Kid Privacy, Revisited

“I have been very clear in making sure my children have never even gotten the idea that they have a right to privacy in my home.”

I hope I never end up being a parent with an attitude like this.

I stumbled across this post the other day and it reminded me of an editorial that I wrote a whopping eight years ago when a similar discussion topic had come up with regards to what level of “privacy” kids deserve. As you might expect, the original author’s perspective on this one is pretty much “none” and I couldn’t be more the opposite because frankly, I think that everyone has a right to privacy throughout their lives.

“Only entitled assholes demand a right to privacy.”

I don’t know what it is, if people who think like this are letting a fear of technology rule their parenting or a fear of modern society because kids are so much worse today than they were when they were growing up, but it just seems to be like a really bad road to start down so young, teaching kids not to have a basic level of respect and trust for other people. And it’s not about wanting to be the cool parent for me – I just think that giving someone a little personal freedom at a young age is a lot better than teaching them that it’s ok to snoop if you’ve got good intentions.

Besides, some things are just meant to be private and diaries, in this case, are especially one of those cases. I remember having a journal when I was in the 5th grade for about a week, and I would write about how school was and that time when the girl I liked was nice to me. Considering that over the last decade I’ve sort of taken to blogging quite a bit, it’s intriguing to me to look back at when I first started, and yet it’s also a little disappointing because after that week in the 5th grade, it was almost 12 years until I started documenting bits of my life in a similar fashion once again.

And for me it honestly wasn’t even an elusive violation of privacy that ended my 10 year-old self’s diary, but instead, in a very innocent manner, I remember my Mom asking one day if she could read what I had written, and I told her she could. She was curious, and I wasn’t too embarrassed, but I also didn’t really feel as driven to write after that because I didn’t feel as unrestricted now that she’d seen a glimpse into my private thoughts.

Mind you, I don’t exactly hold it against her these days or anything, but I bring this up nonetheless because I’m a firm believer that people need to be able to find the outlet for expression that serves them the best, and over the years since I’ve clearly found that mine is writing. And sure, these days I do most of my “journaling” online and accessible to just about everyone because the medium of blogging itself is special to me, but at the same time I can still respect the idea of someone wanting to jot down a few thoughts on paper to work through them without sharing them with anybody else, either.

Privacy is important in our daily lives. We don’t share our bank passwords with anyone else, most of us even have private e-mail and social media accounts that are kept private from our spouses without our worlds caving in, and we get nervous about the idea of our government snooping in on these things, even if it’s said to be done with the best of intentions. Those foundations of trust and respect for other people are ones that need to start young, and kids are taught to respect their parents over anyone else in their lives, so what sense does it make that those figures in their lives wouldn’t show them the same respect back?

I’m not talking about just tossing your kid onto the Internet and letting him fend for himself. I’m talking about dipping your toes into this great big world of global communications together and then as they get to those points where it’s time to let ’em kick a bit on their own, letting them do it without logging in behind their back every 10 minutes to make sure that they don’t see a dirty word or show any sign that their lives are anything less than amazing.

Or if you’re just dying to know every last detail, why not encourage them to start their own blog so that you, their friends, and anyone else can read and share ideas about the things that they write … seems fair, considering that you’re probably doing the same thing on your mommy blog anyways…

I’m sure it’s got to be very scary raising kids at times, but give them a chance to figure out who they are without rooting around in what little privacy they have out of your own insecurities.


What I Found in My 5 Year-Old Daughter’s Diary

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