Being a nosy parent is good parenting

Published 11:56 am Monday, September 19, 2016

Now that my children are 29, 27 and 26, I am enjoying being friends with them finally. They’ve earned it. Two have their own families now and one has served in the Peace Corps and is a teacher in a failing school district.

There’s a time when our children can become our friends — and it’s not when they’re under 18 years old.

I was far from a strict parent. I learned early on that my three children, who were all taller than me by the time they were 12, weren’t going to listen to me out of fear. I had to go the respect — and sometimes guilt — route to get them to do as I asked. It didn’t always work as is the way with most children, especially when they’re teenagers.

I do not agree with some of today’s “professionals” who promote being friends with your little ones. Sure, you can have fun and play and get down on the ground and wrestle, but they need to know who is in charge and taught respect. You can respect their feelings, give them choices and ask for their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s our job to hopefully direct them down the right path to the best of our ability.

They also need to be protected. I will openly admit, despite knowing it’s not “PC” these days, that I was a nosy mom and I don’t regret it one bit.

I didn’t religiously read diaries — but I won’t deny that I did once or twice when I was concerned about how one of them was acting, and in those cases, I was able to intervene and stop a few bad things from happening.

When the internet went mainstream and the kids wanted to browse the World Wide Web and have MySpace pages, they were allowed — as long as I had their passwords. I browsed the computer’s history often. I once found my daughter had told someone online what school she went to. That opened the door for some serious internet safety talks.

Last week, the Oxford Police Department arrested a man for attempting to have sex with a minor. The parents read suspicious text messages and reported it to the school and OPD. That same day, the man was arrested when he showed up at Oxford High School to pick up the minor.

The suspect will have his day in court to determine his guilt or innocence; however, I applaud the parents for being concerned enough about their child to stick their nose where it did belong.

If those parents were more concerned that their minor child’s “rights” were invaded if they read those messages on their phone, who knows what could have happened?

It is our job as parents to protect our children in any way necessary. It doesn’t end when they’re out of elementary school. Teenagers are just learning their way in a grown-up world — in many ways, faster today than ever. Professionals say children are entitled to privacy. Sure, in the bathroom or their bedrooms.

I would expect the same from them as well. If I ever started to act out of character, I would hope they would care enough to try to find out why and perhaps pull me out of the destructive behavior.

I still resist the urge to open up a serious-looking letter that may have been mailed to my house in error for one of my adult children because I still worry about them. But now I have to trust that if they need help, they’ll ask.

However, that doesn’t stop me from asking 100 questions about the new man one of my daughters may be dating. I am still a mom, after all.

alyssa schnugg is city editor of the EAGLE. Write to her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com