Why Do Teens Need Privacy From Their Parents?

Privacy and trust go hand-in-hand

Smiling mixed race teenage girl writing in journal
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When their children reach the teen years, many parents wonder why their kids suddenly need privacy. Learn the relationship between privacy and trust, why parents should usually respect their child's privacy and when it's appropriate for parents to snoop.

The Link Between Privacy and Trust

Privacy issues stem from trust issues. Our teens want to be trusted to do more and more things. They want to be thought of as mature and capable of handling independence.

It is wonderful when we can give our teens their space and privacy. Time alone, their diary and conversations with friends are examples of private areas we can offer our teens.

Sometimes teens may have private conversations with their siblings that need to be respected as well. Sons may feel more comfortable confiding in their father about certain matters , while daughters may feel more comfortable confiding in their mothers. This is especially the case if romantic relationships or the physiological changes they're experiencing at this time are the subject at hand.

Other Reasons Teens Need Privacy

Teens not only strive to be independent during adolescence, they also endure physical changes that make privacy during this age imperative. A daughter who always felt comfortable changing clothes in front of her mother may no longer want to disrobe in front of her. She may also lock her bedroom door or the bathroom door to ensure that her wish for privacy is respected.

The Benefits of Giving Teens Privacy

When we give our teens the privacy they need, they become more independent and build their self-confidence. Balance between knowing what your teen is doing, trusting your teen to have some private matters and knowing when to step in is a fine line that parents walk every day.

Trust your instincts.

When to Invade a Teen's Privacy

Sometimes a parent may need to decide that it's time to snoop on their teens. Parents shouldn't take this step to find out why a teen had a fight with a friend or for another seemingly innocuous reason. Instead, they should reserve snooping if an adolescent shows signs of depression or of hurting himself or someone else.

If your child sleeps all the time, has lost interest in the hobbies that he used to enjoy, has become withdrawn, stopped socializing, or is showing other red signs, such as drug or alcohol use, it may be time to snoop. Snooping should never be the first move a parent makes under these circumstances, however.  

First try to communicate with your teen about the changes in his behavior. Ask why he no longer wants to play on the basketball team or hang out with his best friend since kindergarten. Then, listen to what your child says. If all you get in response is a shrug or "I don't know," consider having your child see a therapist.

If the teen directly states that he wants to harm himself or someone else, forget snooping and get medical help right away.

Wrapping Up

Respecting a teen's privacy is an important move to make if you want your child to believe you trust in her or that she's capable of some forms of independence. However, if your teen is showing major signs of acting out, it is likely necessary for you to invade her privacy to get her the help she needs as soon as possible.

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