We got in a pretty heated discussion during an iMOM meeting the other day. The topic: should you spy on your kids. One of our iMOM writers had written about three ways that she spied on her children. A couple of the younger people in the room thought it wasn’t right for a mom to snoop. I disagreed, and here’s why.
One of my children went through a very, very tough time in high school. I could tell this child was struggling but I had no idea to what extent until God dropped a gift right into my lap. For some unknown reason, all of my child’s texts started showing up on my phone. Did I run to my child and announce, “Hey! Your texts are showing up on my phone!” No—I did not. I read the texts, lots of them. And I learned a lot of things that as a parent I needed to know. I learned that this child was in a very bad spot and I used the information I gathered to guide my child to safety.
Then, after about three weeks, those texts…they stopped just as suddenly as they started. But I had seen what I needed to. I pray all the time for God to show me how to parent my children to grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. And sometimes He literally shows me!
So why do I think you should spy on your kids if you think something is not right?
For safety reasons.
One of our primary jobs as a mom is to keep our children safe. That goes above our child’s “right to privacy.” Think about a mom who’s lost her child to drugs, or found out too late her child was sneaking around with someone who would eventually harm her or discovered that her son is addicted to pornography. Would a mom in that situation ever say, “Well, I might not have known what was going on, but at least I respected my child’s privacy.”
Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Kids may think they can take care of themselves, but in reality, they need lots of help navigating this world.
Children are immature.
Even the most intelligent child can be emotionally immature. Kids don’t think about the long term effects of posting a compromising photo or sending an angry text. When we don’t check on our children’s texts and posts we are expecting too much of them. We’re expecting them to maturely handle freedom they’re not ready for.
It is natural for kids to act like kids. That is why God gave them parents to teach them along the way. If you don’t know what they are doing you won’t know what they need to learn.
They need the truth.
A friend of mine was talking to her young teenager about vaping. During the course of their conversation, she learned that her son had gone online to research the dangers of vaping. “It’s really not bad, Mom,” he said, “as long as it doesn’t have nicotine in it.” My friend went on to guide him to the right information online that taught the risks. Now, why did my friend even bring up vaping to her son? She had read a group text of her son’s where some boys were talking about it. She didn’t want him to get guidance from 13-year-olds, she wanted to be the one to guide him.
If your kids don’t feel that they can come to you with something, anything, where will they turn? They will turn to their friends and Google. Be approachable. Don’t react. And when you give your child a phone, let them know that you will monitor it. Your kids will come to you if they know you will love them through whatever it is they are struggling with.