Do you pick up your childs phone and go through it any time you want? YOU SHOULD BE! I hate hearing about kids thinking they have privacy. The only time kids have privacy in our house is when they are getting dressed. Do your kids have their own computer or tablet as well as a smart phone? Do you know how to get into it?

We have a 12 year old and a 14 (almost 15) year old in the house and they are reminded every once in a while that they do not own anything in our home. Of course now our son, the 15 year old, has gotten himself a job so I am sure we will be having that argument again soon! I read text message conversations. I interrupt video chats and plop myself right on the bed and embarrass them with my funny faces and kisses! I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I do not go around butting into every conversation and embarrassing my kids at every opportunity. Their friends like us. We are the house to come to for great snacks, fun music and supervised silliness.  But we stay in the loop of what they have going on in their social lives and we try to do it without hovering. I never want to be labeled as a helicopter mom. I do want to be labeled as the mom who knows what’s going on in her kids lives.

Remember that your relationship with your teenagers now will change on, perhaps, an hourly basis. Try and reach back into your own history and feel your own teenager feelings. It’s like being bi-polar just for a few years.

I have found that if I am kind with my words (I am not perfect at this) and I speak to my teenagers like adults they will (mostly) give me the same respect. There is always a little eye rolling huffing and puffing but I give it back so they know how silly they sound. A lot of “Ugh Mom”! I really love it, because it means I am doing my job. When I put my hand out and ask for their phone while they are in the middle of a text conversation they just look at me, “Really, Mom! Right now?” Yes now. Because I want to know in real time what is happening in your life. And it’s my phone not yours.

We also have an honesty rule about not deleting any kind of messaging string. It still happens from time to time (our son does it not our daughter. this is a symptom of the older teens.) We have tried to express to the kids the understanding that if you don’t want it to be read by anyone else than you shouldn’t be typing it into an electronic device. The internet is a place that should be handled with care. We remind them that everything that gets sent from their phone can be screenshot and put out into the world. So if they have something important to say that they don’t want others to hear or read they should say it in person. Now that our son has a girlfriend this brings on a new kind of connotation as well. So as not to embarrass him to the ends of the earth I will let you all take that train of thought where you want.

The tricky part of picking up your child’s device and surfing through it is that you start realizing that they are using apps that you didn’t know existed. And they are messaging with their friends from more than the text messaging app already enabled on the device. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to ask my children to teach me how to use an app that is on one of their phones just so that I could navigate through it and check up on them. This is a scary, social media fueled world we are living in, and in order to pay attention to what the kids are up to we need to be informed.

Stay tuned for continuing info…this is the topic that keeps on giving!