I posted a surprisingly conversation producing tidbit on Facebook (you can become my friend to see the full conversation) the other day – “Children don’t need privacy unless they are on the pot or getting dressed.” A lot of Mamas chimed in about this off-handed comment of mine.
For starters, as my comment reads, this isn’t entirely what I meant – it’s only part of my beliefs about kids and privacy. So here’s the scoop, from my perspective.
Young kids don’t need privacy – unless they are getting dressed, or using the potty, or (don’t freak out here) “self stimulating” – you know, touching their naughty bits. When they have friends over, there isn’t any reason to close their bedroom doors. Anything they are doing should be something they could be doing in the middle of the living room.
I know you all remember playing furiously in your best friend’s bedroom with the door closed and 90% of the time it was just innocent fun. Sometimes, the play can be sexual in nature – like looking at or even sometimes touching private body parts. This can happen spontaneously out of another game or, if it isn’t “natural and healthy” can be instigated by a kid who has experienced some sexualized contact or possibly been sexually abused.
This is why I like the door at my house left open when my boy has friends over. And, to paraphrase my friend Leah, “Their brains go out the door when they are in a group and they hatch crazy plans, wreck things, bully and all sorts of not okay stuff.”
Tweens and teens are slightly different animals – I still think they don’t need privacy when they have friends over – leaving the door cracked will still allow them the feeling of privacy, but not the sealed off feeling of the door being fully closed. Diaries, online communication, texting, cell phones, the list is long. And do I need to mention the sex thing? Where and when do you stick your nose in?
Trust came up over and over again in the Facebook conversation. I don’t see this as a matter of trust, per se, more one of practicality. But ultimately, it is up to you – the parent – to decide what is going to work for your family and your kids. This is truly a values issue.
So – I’ll put it to you – how much privacy do you think kids need?