Teen phone privileges

Rory Browne
Rory Browne, former Unix Admin at Ryanair (2007-2009)

Please confirm if I got this right:

  1. You secretly monitor your daughter’s phone.
  2. She found out.
  3. She got very upset.
  4. You removed her phone and grounded her in response to her getting upset.
  5. You fear she may be hiding something from you. Do you (after having secretly monitored her phone) have any evidence of this?
  6. You’re wondering if you did the right thing.

Am I correct so far? If so here’s my interpretation.

  1. She was led to believe that she had some basic privacy when it came to her phone. That nobody was spying on her without her knowledge or consent.
  2. She felt betrayed, when one of the two people she should trust most in the world proved that wrong.
  3. She’s grounded and has had her phone takes away for being upset. Is she not allowed to feel emotion? Are you some kind of Vulcan like person who insists that your daughter suppresses or abstains from feelings?

You’re being completely unreasonable. You’re punishing her for having feelings, and an expectation of privacy, and you think there’s a chance you may have done the right thing. Based on what you’ve told us, you have not.

Now; what can you do about it;

Firstly you need to apologise to your daughter. This will have the added benefit of her knowing that when she does something terribly wrong (and she will occasionally; it’s called having a life), that it’s ok to apologise, and is not a sign of weakness.

Recognise that there are some things that are none of your business. There’s no such thing as having nothing to hide (if nothing else the PIN number for your bank card should be hidden). After you’ve apologised talk to your daughter, about the things that concern you, and see if you can come up with together something where you know about the specific things which concern you (like is she doing drugs, for example), while allowing her some basic privacy on things that are none of your business unless and until such point as she chooses to share them with you.