Is It Wrong to Want Some Privacy?
Put a ✔ next to your most likely response in each of the following scenarios:
1. You’re in your bedroom with the door closed, and your sibling barges in without knocking.
□ ‘No problem. Sometimes I do the same thing to my sibling.’
□ ‘How rude! What if I’d been getting dressed?’
2. You just got home, and now both parents start plying you with questions. “Where did you go? What did you do? Who went along?”
□ ‘No problem. I usually tell them everything anyway.’
□ ‘How frustrating! My parents just don’t trust me!’
WHEN you were younger, privacy probably wasn’t such a big deal. If your younger sibling barged into your room, you welcomed the company. If your parents asked you a question, you answered without hesitation. Back then, your life was an open book. Now you may wish you could close the cover. “I like it when I can just keep some things to myself,” says 14-year-old Corey. Let’s look at two areas where trying to get some privacy might pose a challenge.
When You Seek Solitude
There are a number of valid reasons for you to seek out solitude. Perhaps you just want to “rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:31) Or when you want to pray, you may, as Jesus advised his disciples, “go into your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father.” (Matthew 6:6; Mark 1:35) The problem is, when you shut the door to your private room (if you have one), your parents may not think you’re praying! And your siblings may not understand when you simply want to be alone.
What you can do. Rather than turn the privacy issue into a battle, do the following:
● When it comes to your siblings, try setting a few reasonable ground rules so that you can have some time to yourself. If needed, see if your parents can help in this regard. *
● When it comes to your parents, strive to understand their viewpoint. “At times, my parents check up on me,” says 16-year-old Rebekah. “But to be honest, I would check up on my teenager if I were a parent—especially knowing all the temptations young people face today!” Like Rebekah, can you perceive your parents’ underlying concerns?—Proverbs 19:11.
● Ask yourself honestly: ‘Have I given my parents reason to suspect that I’m up to no good when my door is closed? Have I been so secretive about my personal life that they feel they must resort to covert tactics to learn about me?’ If your answer to those questions is no and your parents still seem untrusting, then calmly and respectfully tell them how you feel. Really listen to their concerns, and make sure there is nothing you are doing that is contributing to the problem.—James 1:19.
When You Make Friends
During adolescence, it’s normal for you to form friendships outside your family. It’s also normal for your parents to wonder who your friends are and what you’re doing when you are with them. But at times you may feel that their concern borders on paranoia. “I just want to have my cell phone and my e-mail without my parents’ looking over my shoulder every ten minutes to ask me who I’m talking to,” says 16-year-old Amy.
What you can do. Instead of letting your friendships create a barrier between you and your parents, try the following:
● Bring your friends out into the open, and make sure your parents are acquainted with them. After all, you might not like your parents’ playing detective, but what choice do they have if your friends are a mystery? Remember, the more your parents know about the people you’re spending time with, the more comfortable they’re likely to be about your choice of friends.
● Be honest with yourself: Is the issue privacy, or is it secrecy? Brittany, 22, says: “If you’re living at home and your parents have a concern, your thought should be, ‘What I’m doing isn’t bad, so why should I have to hide it?’ On the other hand, if you need to hide it, then something else is going on.”
Privacy and You
Now you’ll have opportunity to brainstorm some solutions to a specific area of privacy that concerns you. On the lines below, write down your responses to the questions that accompany the following steps:
Step 1: Identify the issue. In what area do you feel that you would like more privacy?
Step 2: Consider your parents’ viewpoint. What do you think could be their underlying concern?
Step 3: Work at solutions. In what way might you inadvertently be contributing to the problem? What changes could you make regarding your answer above? In what way would you like your parents to address your concerns?
Step 4: Talk it out. Describe how you might initiate a discussion with your parents about privacy.
Has one of your parents fallen asleep in death? If so, where can you find comfort?
“Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of.”—2 Timothy 2:15.
When talking to your parents about privacy, don’t express complaints. Express concerns. The difference? Complaints focus on what you think your parents are doing wrong. Concerns help all of you focus on finding solutions.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
The more open you are with your parents, the less suspicious they will be.
To gain (or regain) my parents’ trust, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why do your parents have a right to be inquisitive about your life?
● How might your efforts to build skill in communicating with your parents help you to communicate with other adults later in life?
[Blurb on page 108]
“Parents don’t want anything to happen to you, and at times they may seem to intrude on your privacy. It doesn’t seem fair. But honestly, if I were a parent, I would probably do the same thing.”—Alana
[Picture on page 109]
Trust is like a paycheck—it must be earned