*I'd just like to do a little preface here to explain that I know that many of the regular methods work for regular kids, but for those of you with ASD, or ADHD kids that are their own person , you might want to consider what I'm saying if you've had a lot of issues with them being argumentative, or "non-compliant". I hear a lot of times where parents see poor, or even explosive behavior from their AS teen, and think that it came from no where. Trust me, it didn't. It's the result of frustration accumulating under the surface. We're very literal, and the language you use matters a lot to us.
Parenting. It's a wide, and often opinionated topic that can turn even the most civilized of us a defensive state when our own methods are questioned. We all have our ideas, and we take our ways seriously, and for good reason. What could be more important, and more serious than bringing a human being into the world that we are responsible for? Contributing to society by being a parent is a big responsibility, and it's no wonder that many parents feel that the way their child turns out is a direct reflection on them, as parents, and as people. That's why the topic of parenting methods tends to become the most heated the quickest.
The other day I asked my my Inner Aspie page, this question:
When is it (or is it EVER) ethical for parents
to do random checks on their teen's phone (that the parents pays for)?
Is it ever okay to read their personal texts?
I was a little taken back by the responses that I received,
especially from the autistic parents. By far the majority that answered said phrases like "Always, because it's your responsibility as a parent..." and the ever popular "My house. My rules." and the other popular phrase, " No privacy until you pay for it."
None of those are direct quotes (that I can recall) from any one person. I don't want any of my page members to think that I am singling them out to passive aggressively argue with them via my blog. I just paraphrased some of the most common answers to talk about this subject more in depth. The reason I chose to do it here was so that I would not seem to be picking on any one person, or seeming argumentative causing people to feel attacked. My blog is much more of a neutral place to express my thoughts on this matter.
Before I criticize the ownership of housing, phones, and such to determine rights I will state my opinion on the matter.
I don't necessarily think there is a one size fits all answer here. Some kids are going to need way more supervision than others due to temperament, habits, and ability to think ahead. I think if a child is generally well behaved, and does not tend to befriend strangers on the internet, then I am not sure you ever need to check their phone. I don't necessarily believe in trampling all over my kid's privacy if they've indicated no reason for me to believe they're guilty of anything.
If they are suddenly getting texts that they never talk about (like receiving texts, but then never asking to go anywhere or telling you about what crazy thing their friend just did) then yeah. Read their texts, and find out what all the secrecy is about. Most of the time when my teen gets a text it's an invitation to go somewhere, and I know who she's talking to. If not, she's not shy about telling me what it was about. Secretive behavior is cause for concern, and cause for privacy breaches. That pretty much covers the what would cause me enough concern to check messages, and phone history. I also limit the amount of time my teen can be alone in a closed room with her phone, and computer. Any small indiscretion with that, and it's cause for seizure of said technology.
So, in my house there are rules. Some would say a lot of rules, and expectations. My rules are clear, and spelled out. They are never about listening to me, because I am an authority figure. Never. I want my kids to be thinkers. I want them to question what they're told, and use their own moral compass to determine their actions. I never want them to do as they are told blindly. I want them to know, and understand why they're being told to do what they are, and the reasons behind it. I discuss that in part in this entry Disobedience or Ethical Noncomformist.
I'm not trying to instill compliance. I'm trying to instill values, and morals that set a good foundation to good decision making skills, and strong character traits. Discipline is needed for this to be a good outcome, but I refuse to micromanage my children's lives. I remember when I was a teen. The kids that seemed to be the most afraid of their parents, and the most compliant were the most awful when authority was not around. They did what they knew was right when they were being watched, but as soon as they weren't their behavior turned ugly, and any morals went right out the window. They smoked, got pregnant, sneaked out, and did every other thing we try to prevent out teens from doing. It seemed that the over bearing parenting style repressed their ability to really think on their own, or make the best decisions.
Furthermore, I think it may be my aspie thinking style, but nothing infuriated me more as a child then the old "because I said so" phrase. I said I'd never use that as a parents, and I haven't. I need a good reason, or I'm not listening to you, and you demanding that I do, because you have some sort of authority over me loses my respect. My parents may have been able to scare me into compliance, but fear and respect are two entirely different things. When you respect someone you earn their theirs back. When you force out of fear respect is lost. Ownership of property or financial means do not buy more rights. If my daughter chose to buy, and pay for her own phone, or car there would still be a ton of rules for her to follow. This is because it is never about money, but about safety. My rules are about her safety, or the safety of others. When I expect them to be followed I explain why, and back it up with consequences that directly reflect the crime. I try to mimic the real world as much as possible with consequences. Don't wanna do your chores? Fine. Don't. You won't get your allowance, and you won't have any money. Hope you like brown bagging it to your sporting events, and field trips. I'm not gonna give you money to watch the games, or any activity, either. I give you the opportunity to earn it, and that's it. That's what it's like in the real world. You don't go to work, you have no money. I'm not hounding you about what you need to do. The same with homework. After a certain age, it's your responsibility to get it done. I check the online site, and if I see missing, or late assignments, then you're grounded until they're turned in, and updated on the site. That's the rule I put into effect early this year after discovering dismal grades on my daughter's report card with a crapload of late/missing assignments. If a C, or even a D is the best you can do, then there's no punishment for bad grades. If you have a B, and not doing all of your work, you will be grounded in my house. I care about effort, not outcome. Effort will carry you further in life, than outcome. We can't always be good at everything, but not even trying is what will hold us back.
So, like many things I am a different type of parent. I have oodles of patience, and a love of logical that when coupled together make my parenting style steady, and effective. Every child is different, but all kids respond to gentle structure, and unconditional love.