Q: Why do you insist on having the passwords to my Facebook and email?  Why do you check my phone?  Don’t you trust me?

Dad: One of the better kept secrets by us parents is that a lot of our parenting decisions are based on general fear… or at least concern.  Parents hear the horrible things that happen to young people all the time and decide to swath their own kids in bubble wrap and stick them in a closet until they get married and are someone else’s problem.  Every day there is another story in the news about electronic and internet communication playing a part in cyber-bullying, kidnapping, or being used to plan a party so wild people on the next block got pregnant.  A steady diet of that tends to make parents default to, “We need to make sure nothing like that is going on in our little (insert your name here)’s world.”


 And so, they want to monitor.

Do they trust you?  Well…maybe, maybe not– depending on the history of your actions.  But even if you are a paragon of virtue, they certainly don’t trust “other people”… you know, the bullies, kidnappers, and pregnancy-party planners who are lurking out there. What you want to do is help move them from general fear-based thinking to wrestling specifically with your use of electronic communication.  You start that with a friendly, non-accusatory conversation.

Begin with getting yourself into the mindset that you are about to have a conversation with people who love you and who care for your well-being beyond their own.  Then ask them to share their specific concerns regarding your private use of email, Facebook, etc.  Then listen to the answer….really listen, because maybe they have some legitimate issues.  Then ask them what you can do to give them more confidence about the concerns they just voiced.  Tell them you are willing to prove to them you can be trusted to handle social media responsibly… but you need to know exactly what will show them you can do it. Once you find out what it would take to have them loosen the bubble-wrap a bit, you might still have to put up with being monitored for a while as you show them what they need to see… but you are working toward your goal in a mature way that may well be successful… as well as garner their respect.


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