One of the most difficult parts of being a parent…
Dear Dr. JPL,
I have access to all my daughter’s texts. I recently saw a conversation between her friends that made me so proud. My daughter’s friends were trying to pressure her into attending a big party where alcohol was going to be served. My daughter, however, held her own. She not only told her friends they could go without her, but also told them that she didn’t “appreciate the pressure” they were putting her under. She ended by telling them she thought a party with alcohol was very “uncool and stupid.” I would like to give her a big hug and tell her how proud I am of her. My problem is that she does not know I have access and can read her texts and social media posts. I am afraid she will be furious that I am doing this but I really want to validate her choices. What should I do?
Look at this situation as an opportunity to come clean with your daughter. It is good that you are monitoring your daughter, however, your question highlights a common dilemma. If you tell her that you have been monitoring her interactions, she probably will get upset. My experience is that most teens feel that this is an invasion of privacy when they suddenly find this out. You are better off telling her now because you also want to reinforce her good choices. Imagine if you read that she was going to engage in a dangerous behavior. You would most likely talk to her immediately. Monitoring is important. When teens know they are being monitored, it actually makes them feel safe. I advise parents who make the choice to monitor their kids this way to let them know this from the beginning. This encourages honesty and trust.
Start off by telling your daughter that you have access to her texts and social media. Explain that you only monitor the content for safety. Tell her that you are so proud of her. Let her know you think she is making smart decisions. Initially, she may be upset to learn you have been monitoring her interactions. Your positive reinforcement, however, will not go unnoticed. Your affirmation about her positive choices will encourage her to stay the course.