If it weren’t for reading my stepsister’s text messages, my dad and stepmother would have not known that their 16 year old was planning on sneaking out of the house to meet up with some boy she knows from school at 2 in the morning for a “good time”. They were able to confront her (admitting that yes, they DID read her text messages) and help keep her from sneaking out of the house for some teenage foul play (at least for now), and though she was upset, embarrassed, and certainly angry, I believe they did the right thing. I believe that parents have the right to read their childrens’ text messages, provided they have reason to suspect that their children are in danger or exhibiting odd behavior that text messages may help unveil.
My stepsister has been acting out lately, lashing out at her parents and my father, ignoring chores, and on her cell phone constantly. Failing to do homework and insisting on wearing far more revealing clothing than she is allowed, the parents suspected a boy must be involved, and after missing curfew more than once, they somehow got to her cell phone and revealed that a number of school buddies were encouraging her to sneak out of the house, attend parties, and basically just run amuck as teenagers are bound to do.
I believe the key to reading your kids’ text messages is to only do so for the purpose of their own well being, and only after exhausting all other communicative efforts. Also, a parent better be willing to fess up to reading their kids’ text messages, explaining why they did it, and that they are concerned for their children and their safety and mental well being. My stepmother had a heart-to-heart with her daughter, explaining that she values her daughter’s privacy but also values her daughter respecting herself and others, and that slamming doors in her face, dressing provocatively and ignoring everything but a slew of random guys at school led her to go through her daughter’s text messages to find out why her daughter was behaving so poorly. She further expressed her love for my stepsister, and let her know that boys are a huge thing for a 16 year old, but values and boundaries must be honored or else the cell phone would be gone for good. She also further expressed that she would not go through her daughter’s text messages again provided her daughter did not give her reason to suspect her of trouble and communicate more often with her elders.
Basically, if your kids are going to disobey you, refuse to talk to you, and exhibit strange behavior, I think it is a parent’s right to find out what is wrong, and kids should not have a problem with parents reading their text messages if they have nothing to hide. On the other side of the issue, I believe kids should have the right to trust that their parents won’t snoop, and respect their kids’ boundaries, but when a child chooses to throw all rules and boundaries out the window, they lose the privilege of privacy. In the end, the parent can do as they want, and should always act in the best interest of the child, even if it means monitoring text messaging and “snooping”.