Posted: Oct 08, 2012 10:00 AM
Have you snooped through your child’s things? Or have you accidentally come across her journal and before you knew it, you were reading it? Whether it was a planned operation or an accidental mission, should a mom be able to poke around in her child’s private things?

To snoop or not to snoop?

How many times have you been putting laundry away in your child's room or grabbing her lunchbox out of her backpack and you see something that tempts you? A diary. A folded up note from a classmate. A text message on her phone from that girl you're on the fence about.

Many parents think their child's privacy is paramount. But it's their safety that's paramount.

What to do?

"I snoop," says Michelle, mother of three boys ranging in age from 9 to 16. "Spying helps parents know where their kids are at and what they're thinking to an extent."

"When putting away laundry I like to go through drawers and when I change bedding I like to lift mattresses and look under. I go through their backpacks as well. When they are 18, they will have privacy."

What about computers? Cell phones?

You might think going through your child's drawers is too much, but what about monitoring what they're writing on social media sites or checking the websites they are browsing? Isn't there a sense of protecting your child by checking on her?

"Two of our boys have cell phones and they were told that at random times we will ask for their phones and we will read their texts. How we justify, not that we need to justify, is because we are the parents and privacy is respected but when you are a kid and living under our roof there is not a lot of privacy unless you are in the bathroom."

"Cell phones and social media is not privacy. They are doing things that the whole world basically has access to, so as parents you have a right to know what they are saying and doing. And if they are putting it out there, it is up to us to teach them and help them learn right from 
wrong," adds Michelle. 

Have you thought about the safety factor?

"There is a thin line between snooping and knowing your child is safe," says Callie Harris of uKnowKids, an internet safety company specializing in everything from cyberbullying to sexting, was founded after one of the co-founder's teenager was targeted by an online predator. "We recommend parental controls to keep your kids safe."

Betsy, a mother of one from Florida agrees. After reading her daughter's diary, she learned something terrible had happened to her. "When my daughter first started high school, she began misbehaving. I went through her things and found her diary. I learned she was sexually active. She was only 13. I was appalled and insane with worry. I then found out she'd been molested by a family member."

"Many parents think their child's privacy is paramount. But it's their safety that's paramount."

Read more about your teen

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5 Independent living skills to teach your teen
When honesty is not the best policy