Why do parents intrude?
Your parents say they’re just concerned. You, however, see it as an invasion of your privacy. For example:
“My dad will take my phone, demand my password, and look through all my messages,” says a teenager named Erin. “If I get defensive, he thinks I have something to hide.”
Denise, now in her early 20’s, recalls her mom scrutinizing the phone bill. “She would look at each number and ask me whom it belonged to and what I had talked to that person about.”
A teenager named Kayla says that her mom read one of her private journals. “It had lots of my feelings in it—even some things about her! I stopped writing in a journal after that.”
The bottom line: Your parents are responsible for your well-being, and you can’t control just how strictly they’ll exercise that responsibility. Will they seem to go overboard at times? Perhaps. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce that feeling of intrusion.
What you can do
Be open. The Bible encourages us to “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) Make an effort to do that with your parents. The more honest and open you are with them, the more likely they will be to allow you more privacy.
To think about: What is your track record when it comes to trustworthiness? Are you careless about your curfew? secretive about your friendships? elusive about your activities?
“I have to meet my parents halfway. I’m open with them about what’s going on in my life. I tell them whatever they want to know, and as a result, they trust me and give me privacy.”—Delia.
Be patient. The Bible says: “Keep proving what you yourselves are.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) It takes time to build up a record of trustworthy behavior, but it’s worth the effort.
To think about: At one time your parents were teenagers. What bearing do you think that fact has on their interest in your life?
“I think parents remember the mistakes they made and don’t want their teenagers to make the same ones.”—Daniel.
Be empathetic. Try to see things from your parents’ point of view. The Bible says that a capable wife “watches over the activity of her household” and that a good father brings up his children “in the discipline and guidance of Jehovah.” (Proverbs 31:27; Ephesians 6:4, footnote) To accomplish that, there’s no shortcut: your parents need to be involved in your life.
To think about: If you were a parent—knowing what you know about teenagers—would you allow your son or daughter to have total privacy, with no questions asked?
“When you’re a teen, it seems as if your parents are ‘invading’ your privacy. Now that I’m a young adult, though, I can see why parents need to do it. It’s a reflection of their love.”—James.