Please Stop Stalking Your Children

Dear Parents,

How are you doing these days?  I know that you have a lot facing you every day, from work problems to what to make for dinner.  But there's something that we need to discuss.

It's your children.  I know, I know, you worry about them constantly, as you try to learn what they're doing 24/7.  Well, good news - you don't have to do that anymore.  In fact, you shouldn't do that.

As children grow up and turn into pre-teens and teenagers, you want to watch out and help them along the way.  But to do this, you need to know where the problems are.  You don't trust your kids to come to you with problems, so you spend lots of money and time doing it for them.  They should be grateful, right?

Wrong.  By putting apps on their cell phones that spy on them, reading their emails, reading their posts on social media, using a GPS on the car, you are telling them in no uncertain terms that you neither trust nor respect them.

Think about it before getting on the defense.  Your behaviors feel uncomfortable sometimes (or at least they should feel uncomfortable) because you are stalking your own kids.  Yes, I said it.  You are stalking your kids.

Look it up, if you don't believe me.  According to Merriam Webster dictionary, stalking is to pursue obsessively, to the point of harassment.

But you're not harassing your kids, right?

Wrong.  Having to justify every single action, email, and text is more than annoying, it's harassing.  Being asked why you drove an extra block to get home?  Also harassing.

I know that there are a lot of people trying to convince you to stalk your kids, because a lot of people are getting filthy rich by spreading this paranoia and fear.  Think about all the apps sold to parents each day, the GPS systems, the newer cell phones with special parental controls,...  All of these things cost money, so of course the people who sell them will try to tell you that you need to read all of Little Susie or Little John's emails and posts.  How else will you know?

I'll tell you.  Communication.  That's the big secret to getting along with teenagers, pre-teens, and the like.  Talk to your kids, but more importantly, listen to your kids.  Don't start jumping to conclusions, and don't interrupt them.  But none of this communication will occur as long as you show your kid disrespect.

Instead, respect their privacy.  No more reading emails, diaries, posts, or texts.  No more listening in on phone calls.  No more tracking them through either their cell phone or the car.  Trust your kid to do the right thing, even if that means calling for help after making a mistake.

No, you can't turn your kid into someone who never makes mistakes.  But you can be there, have their back when a mistake happens.

But only if they trust you enough to let you know.

So please stop stalking your kids.  In the end, they will thank you for your trust and respect.

Sincerely,
Kathryn

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