To snoop or not to snoop, that is the question. Is it nobler to turn a blind eye or should you become a detective?
In Parents Anonymous meetings, parents had many lively, informative discussions on a myriad of topics. This time it was snooping and whether or not it is advisable to spy on our children.
Two parents agreed that snooping would be wrong under any circumstance and would never entertain the idea. One said she never enters her daughter’s room without knocking first and when putting away clean, folded laundry she leaves her clothes in a basket by the door.
“Do we teach our children to be honest and trusting by sneaking around through their belongings? I don’t think so,” the mom said.
Good point well put; trust and honesty are important values to consider but some parents felt differently with their own views.
Snooping or spying is much like spanking in that parents either support it or they don’t, there is usually no middle ground. Another mom said she does knock before entering her children’s rooms but if the children are not present she will look through papers or peek inside drawers, more out of curiosity than suspicion.
“How else would I know what they are into? Do I respect my kids? Yes. Do I trust them? No, they are only human,” she said, “And they are just kids!”
If there were a middle ground I may have been on it. I was never the parent that says, “Oh no, not my child!” and I felt like I was ready for just about anything when it came to my girls. I was pretty busy with work, the house and our schedules so I really would not take time to snoop… unless there were a red flag and a good reason to make time.
Kids may swear, draw pictures of naked people and tell dirty jokes, that’s normal stuff kids do. Girls chatter about other girls and the ‘cute’ boy in row three. They talk about the teacher they think doesn’t like them and sometimes wish they would get the flu and a substitute would be assigned – all normal. In fact the more you smile reading this, the less likelihood there is a problem.
One day when I was putting away laundry I opened Katie’s drawer and pushed clean socks into something cold and clammy; it felt like a dead animal and I immediately took a step back. Pulling the socks out slowly I was genuinely shocked to find a partially-eaten one-pound block of mozzarella cheese between socks and underwear. Katie loved mozzarella cheese and since I let them choose their own breakfast or snacks, she picked cheese the previous day and forgot it in the drawer – a true eye-roll moment.
Items found in laundry were sometimes a first clue to look further. More often than not my snooping ended there but I would always keep my eyes open. From other members in my group I occasionally heard about drugs, tobacco, shoplifting, having sex and other things in group so I was determined not to be the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand.
When thinking about spying, I always considered their age and my role as a parent – to guide and supervise. If I turned a blind eye to any red flags wouldn’t that be the same as allowing my child to make adult choices like using illegal substances or having sex?
When it was pointed out to me that the room belonged to my child I explained my view, “My child does not pay the mortgage – I do. The room belongs to us but we allow them stay there rent-free until they are eighteen.”
I am also responsible for my children until they are eighteen and I think I have the right to decide if they get a pet snake, join a gang or set up shop as a drug dealer. I would want to know if my child has illegal fireworks, the makings for a bomb or a handgun. Because what my children can do also affects me until they are eighteen that makes me legally responsible.
In the end, every parent has to take into consideration all the pros and cons and to make a decision that works best for their own family. Katie and Chelsey are grown now but as for my family, yes, I would probably snoop again – but only if there were red flags. Trust is one thing being willfully blind is another.
Tell me your thoughts on the matter. I am genuinely curious what other parents do and how they make the decision.