Friday, January 04, 2013

"I Will Always Know The Password"

Here's something that has bothered me more every time I see it on FB, and yes, I am probably wrong, but I saw it again today, and it's down my neck again.

It's one of those posts where a parent is held up as a great example to us all because she (or he, but it is usually a mother) announces to the world (well, okay, FB) the exact degree to which she allows her child (who is usually actual an adolescent) no privacy.

His (or her, though in this case it's a boy of about fourteen) internet or phone or FB or computer is open to Mom, and must be.  "I own it, I paid for it, you're mine," Mom says.  "I'll read every file, I'll see everything you're doing, I'll browse your every chatline, I will always have your passwords."

And everyone on FB cheers her on.

Because sexual predators or whatever.

And yes, I know sexual predators and horrible people exist online.  I was involved not that long ago (a couple years ago) when the kid's best friend talked to some filth while playing online games.

OTOH: Is the solution actually to give your child no privacy whatsoever?  To make her live in a Panopticon?

I suppose some kids might need such an approach, obviously -- if your kid won't tell you anything, even when he is approached by a child-rapist...but yow.  How did you raise a child who distrusts you that much?

I guess my point here is, if you don't make your child into your enemy, if you don't create an adversarial relationship between you and your child, if you don't create a household in which your child is afraid to come to you about problems because you'll react like he's a criminal, then he will come talk to you (my kid does) when he has questions about whether this person's reaction is okay; about how he ought to react to this comment on this site; about what he ought to tell this person.

I mean, that's how my kid handled the event two years ago: she came to me about her friend.  She knew she could come to me about her friend, is what I am saying, that she could trust me to react in a useful, rather than in a punitive, manner -- to be on her side, to help her, not to harm her.  Imagine if she had not been able to do that.  (Her friend, notice, did not approach her mother about it.)

This is why I dislike so intensely the authoritarian approach to parenting -- the policeman approach, the I've got the big stick and I can make you do what I say because my stick is so big.  From the time my kid was little, and I mean tiny, we've always been Socratic parents.  Come, let us reason together.

And guess what: she's a reasonable child.

Okay, okay.  End of rant.

For now.


kel said...

For me, particularly where my oldest is concerned (mostly because of his woeful lack of impulse control and general inability to see the big picture), I will have the passwords. I will reserve the right to troll through their phone, email, or FB.


I will promise them that I won't do it unless they give me a reason to invade their privacy. Does that make sense?

JP recently made a series of spectacularly bad choices regarding the internet, conversation topics at school, doodles at school, Google searches, and a not-so-sneakily starting a Pinterest board using foul language. Frankly, I don't trust him where the internet is concerned (SG...not sure about her yet. We'll see.) We password protected every device that has wifi and established an account for them on the computer with seriously restricted internet access.

Once they turn 18 and I'm no longer legally responsible for whatever idiotic choices they make AND they're paying their own phone bill? They can change all the passwords and don't have to tell me anything. Frankly? I'd rather not know.

delagar said...

Dang. I meant to include a paragraph about that -- special cases excluded, etc etc -- because, yes, certain kids there would be reasons you would need to keep a closer watch on, obviously!

It's just the general idea I see pervading the culture that children don't have any right to privacy, or any rights at all, frankly, that is making me go all psycho-liberal, I think.

Drew C. Releford said...

You're a great parent, Kelly. And think you're the model of a perfect person because of the way you handle your students and raise your kid. I wish my parents had taken the Socratic approach to parenting. It makes so much more sense!

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm not the only one who thinks a 15-year-old living under this level of absolute parental control is a desperate shame rather than something to be tooted around the news cycle. But they encourage him to listen to their choice of music too, so they think that makes them exemplary parents.

We're all glad "The Kid" has a very different household to grow up in. --L