reading teens email

philmont_2006November 8, 2006

Hi, I have a question my son is 14 almost 15 and yes he is into girls... it seemed to happen so fast. Give you a little history, I was a good kid my wife was a bad kid so my wife doesn't trust him at all. So she reads his email that he writes and gets back from his girlfriend. He doesn;t know this. I'm not thinking this is the right thing to do, I don't want to read it. Another thing, I have a very good relationship with my son, very open, when he has a new girlfriend he tells me about her first. I would say my wife and him get along o.k. but there have been times when they haven't. Any advise on what to do if anything... I trust my son, until he gives me a reason not to I will continue to trust him....

but then again he's a teenage boy

Thanks Dave

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Look at it from your son's point of view ? How would he feel if he knew what your wife was doing ? I imagine that to betray his trust would be pretty damaging. Its an invasion of privacy, in my mind.

If she checks his email now, what will she do when he is older, will she check up on everything ?

If he thinks that he is not trusted, then he will probably start thinking, "I may as well do something sneaky."

Start out how you mean to go on, with trust, with open communication. What is there to check up on anyway ?

I like your approach, very open, keep going down that road, Philmont.

I have a son the same age.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 12:24AM
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My opinion - Your trusting an open relationship is a wonderful thing that you should work hard to maintain. But at the same time, it would be highly unusual for your son to continue to tell you everything you would want to know. Keep having these discussions as often as possible, and be sure your son knows your values. He should know what type of situations he might face and the two of you should discuss how he might handle them, to the extent possible. The one thing we know for sure - At some point in your son's life, someone will offer him sex and/or drugs, and it will be at a time that you aren't there to guide him. He needs to be prepared.

Now, while I don't condone his mother's reading his emails, I understand her motivations completely. But as long as your son continues to do well in school, act responsibly, and confide in you, I think she should stop snooping. That said, if your son's behavior starts to change, and you have reason to believe some 'bad stuff' may be happening -- then I'd have to agree that an occasional peek to stay up-to-speed might be in order. The potential consequences are just too serious.

I like your attitude Philmont - That you will continue to trust your son until he gives you reason not to. Just be sure you aren't looking the other way --

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 10:31AM
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much thanks to both of you... it was when my wife was 15 that she made some real bad choices and it took her a few years to get back on track. That didn't happen to me so I can understand her concern. With this (seems to us) very needy girlfriend who is older we are concerned. I talk to him everyday. Next weekend we go up north together (my son and me) and we will work have fun and talk.... I am building a cabin in the woods with my kids. I dream for me and I hop them too.
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 4:27PM
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Dave, I have a problem with your comment that "until he gives me a reason NOT to I will continue to trust him". I believe that doesn't communicate the basic idea that trust is earned. Let me explain...

I've told the story already but here goes again. When my ds graduated from high school he sat in the kitchen and we talked til about 3 a.m. I prize that conversation above everything! He said: "Mom, you did it right. All my friends started high school and their parents said, 'Well, you haven't done anything to make me NOT trust you so...' and they had everything to start out with. They had nowhere to go but down. YOU said, 'O.K., let's try this little bit. If you can handle that we'll see.' And if I didn't mess up I could proceed to another level. If I DID mess up I only fell back to the previous level...not all the way to buck private."

My mouth fell open. He GOT IT!!! He actually GOT IT!!

"Mom," he said, "I felt that I could actually work my way to the light. I could become an adult. You really did that right."

Well, I can't tell you how good it feels to have a child actually praise your technique. It's awesome! But I do think it is important for a child to realize that trust is NEVER automatic. You don't get it for NOT having done anyting bad when you really haven't even had the only get it for behaving properly in real situations.

That said...I don't think I would be snooping in the emails. You want to be modeling trustworthy behavior. If your kid were snooping in your private things he wouldn't be earning YOUR trust, would he? It's generally a good idea to hold yourself to the same high standard you apply to your child.

All this to one side...if your child is showing clear signs of 1)drug use, or 2)criminal behavior, or 3)suicidal or other mental health problems...never mind trust - do what you must. Save the child.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 9:32PM
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When we gave our daughter an e-mail account we told her, she's 12, that mommy would be reading her e-mails and if she changed her password I would delete her account. She wasn't bothered by it, most aren't at 12, but when she turns 14 this won't change.

I have already had many talks with her about earning our trust, she has earned and lost our trust at times, but is now leaning more toward earning it through her actions. We make it a point to let her know when she has earned more of our trust or has done something to lose some of our trust based on a decision she has made. With more trust comes more freedom and it works the opposite.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 12:56AM
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