Hi there, I’m Aspen! I am a sophomore in high school, and I am here to answer questions from parents of teens from a teenager perspective in my new column “Ask Aspen.”
I recently put out a poll asking parents what things they want to know about raising teenagers today. My first question comes from Marybeth who has two teenage daughters.
Question: “Should parents read texts and track kids on their phones?”
Answer: I don’t think parents should read texts just because they want to.
You can’t just be like, “I’m your mom, so I get to read your texts.”
I have a friend whose dad tells her that he can read her texts any time he wants because he is the parent and pays the phone bill.
This made my friend want to rebel because she was in trouble anyway without doing anything wrong. It also made her dad somebody she didn’t trust with a lot of things she was dealing with at school.
If you force your kids to let you read their texts, or if you read them without them knowing, you will lose the trust of your child, and it will just make her want to hide things more.
If you feel like your child is in danger, follow that feeling and read the texts.
But it’s more important to work on building a relationship with your child where she feels like she can share things with you without you having to read texts.
Trust works two ways. Parents need to be trusted by their kids just as much as parents need to trust their kids. Work on being trusted, and resist the urge to read text messages.
As far as tracking kids on their phones goes, I don’t see anything wrong with it for safety reasons so you know where your kids are. But it is kind of the same thing as reading texts.
If you have a trusting relationship with your teen, then she will most likely be honest with you about where she is going, or let you know if she went somewhere she shouldn’t have.
Teens like to talk when they have a safe place to talk. Parents need to be that safe place.
If you’re tracking your teen just to track her because you’re a controlling parent, that’s a problem. But if you’re tracking them for safety reasons to know where they are, if you feel genuinely concerned, that’s a good thing.
Try to find that balance and work on building a trusting relationship with your teenager. (Serve Daily submission.)