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How much privacy should be given a 17 year old son? He has had a cell phone that I pay for, but lately has been acting so secretively and now I find he is locking his phone. I know I shouldnt be looking but I am so bothered that the son I was so close to now appears to be shutting me out. I don't fear drugs etc but I long for the closeness we once had. I am tempted to take his phone but feel that closeness and trust cannot be forced nor gained by this action.


Lou Longo Replied: This is uncharted territory for so many parents of teenagers today as few of us had cell phones ourselves when we were teens so most have very little points of references or experience to turn to. I remember vividly the things I was exposed to as a teen and at age 17, although we were not hellions, my friends and I were not choir boys either. Kids as early as 10 years old now have cell phones and are taking pictures and sending messages and jokes that they may not even know how inappropriate they are. 17 years old is a very unique age as you are approaching adulthood by age standards but from a maturity level, very few kids are ready for it (and I mean no disrespect to you or your son). With many kids and their cell phones, it is the privacy reason for them being so secretive as odds are there is some flirting going on with some girls and texting between their guy friends that they would not want their mom to see. I am not sure if your son's dad is part of his life but I recommend you ask him as well as any other trusted male friends and family you have to get their perspective on what is was like to be a teenage boy and some of the stuff they did, witnessed or had access to. None of it means your son is doing it but the expression "boys will be boys" does have some significance. My advice on this one is to try to talk as much and as openly with your son about your worries and that it is out of love for him and always wanting to be there for him. Who does he look up to as a role model? An uncle, coach, teacher, etc. and maybe they could help too but be careful as you do not want your son to feel like you are running to others because you don't trust him. Sometimes my oldest son and I do not connect but if I know that he confides in or has someone else I trust that he turns to, as much as it will hurt my heart, I will still feel better knowing that he is ok. Stress to your son that you are not doing it because you do not trust him and that he truly will understand (just like you, me and millions of others) when he becomes a parent some day. Good luck!
Posted On 2009-08-03 09:12:49
Ashley Hammond Replied: As our children grow older we may change our approach to parenting but regardless we always use a wide varietry of tactics. All children are "designed" to test, but it is our resolve, experience and love that enables us to make better choices than our children. At 17 years of age you have a young adult but nevertheless a young adult that still depends on you for boundaries. Confrontation is not the answer but it sounds like over the years you have built a terrific relationship with your son. Rely on this and TALK with him but have very clear boundaries and rules. An example might be: "I understand why you want to lock your phone to stop others gaining access but moving forward if you want to lock it you will need to give me the password as I know we have nothing to hide from each other". In the event that he does not want to do this then ask why and seek an explanation it might be that he is shy about a new girlfriend which is normal. If it is for other reasons, you will see through him, as you love him. It is then ok to enforce it with taking the phone away or whatever discipline that you normally use. I assume that you are the contract holder with the phone company therefore you should be able to access all records online or at least see calls made. Speaking to the HS guidance counsellor is also a very good idea to see who he is hanging out with and what his group of friends are up to. Trust the strong bond that you have but be firm, fair and remember who is the adult. Good luck.
Posted On 2009-01-31 16:08:51
Gary Pritchard Replied: Having three boys, my youngest being 17 (the others are in their 20's) I empathize with your concern. As a parent I would want to know why he is locking his phone too. And it's okay to ask. You are paying for the phone… you have a right. You hit on something we have always felt strongly about …trust. As a parent trust was part our responsibility too. We tried to respect their privacy, and as my son would say "not too much snoopin"...(however if we got that "gut" feeling something was going on we'd be all over them with questions and start digging) We always approached it from how much we loved and cared about him and reminded him that his well being is our most important priority. Being open with each other is important. As a parent there is no greater gift than a son and in turn no greater responsibility. Yes they tend to be a little less "close" in the teens . Don't worry they come back around in a couple years. Just keep hugging him and telling him how much you love him no matter how much he squirms(smile) . All the best Gary
Posted On 2009-01-25 17:32:40
debbie mandel Replied: Teenagers are forming their identity and questioning the values they grew up with. Sometimes when they feel close to you, dependent on you, they shut you out in order to separate. For example, many incoming college freshmen pick a fight with their parents when they move into the dorm in order to express their separation anxiety. Interesting, you choose the term "secretive" implying that your intuition might be alerting you that your son might be involved in unwholesome relationships. You didn't write that he is locking his phone for "privacy" - rather it's "secretive." Time to have an open discussion with your son as the phone is just a symbol of communication. Question the root cause during a family meeting. Listen to what is said and not said.
Posted On 2009-01-25 15:48:15
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