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Teen Space, Teen Privacy?

Can your teen shut you out of her room, claiming privacy? No. While certain elements of your teen's life certainly are private, her room isn't really one of them. It's your house, and it's perfectly appropriate for you go in and out of her room occasionally (daily or weekly). What if she's left candy bars on the floor and now has mice? These are issues you need to know about.

If you've kept the computer, TV, and sophisticated sound system elsewhere in the house, you may want to consult a professional if your teen is spending enormous amounts of time in her room alone. But put this in context—if your teen is an avid reader, she may simply be shutting out the household noise in order to enjoy her latest book. That's a good reason for checking in on her now and then—if she's reading, you'll know it.

Should you snoop while you're in the room, and she's not there? No. Would you want her snooping in your room? Respect goes both ways. Does this mean you should never snoop or ask questions? No, not at all. Here are some guidelines:

  • If you overhear your teen talking about doing something forbidden (drugs, beer party, “doing it,” someone being beaten up, etc.) 'fess up to your teen that you overheard. You may be right to be concerned and will want to get involved.
  • If your teen leaves something in your path (a letter from a friend, a diary, or personal notebook) more than once, you can assume she wants it read. Sometimes teens purposely want you to “find” something because they know no other way to bring up a sensitive or troubling subject.
  • While your teen's room needs to be open territory, he ought to have the right to a private drawer or area of the closet. This private area should be investigated by you only if you observe some type of worrisome behavior: He's suddenly hanging out with a very different group of friends whom you don't know, his behavior changes drastically (he's become very secretive, for example), or he's acting in such a way that you fear he might be hiding drugs or alcohol in his room.

Every teen needs privacy, but if your teen walks into the house, strides to her room, and slams the door, check on her in a little while. She may actually want to talk. (Knock before you go in, just as you would want her to knock on your closed door.)

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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