Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Do You Know Who Your Children Are Talking To?

Parenting is, no doubt, one of the most stressful, difficult jobs you will ever do. But, it can be the most rewarding as well, if you are diligent. The world, unfortunately, will do more to make the job harder than it will to help you. Sometimes, raising children feels more like being a bodyguard as we keep our eyes open and our head constantly swiveling looking for potential harm or danger. We never want to let our guard down, because it's so easy for our inexperienced kids to wander into trouble before they realize what they're doing.
Some parents have run into important ethical questions in the course of raising their children, and have had to decide where the line must be drawn between their kids' privacy and their own duty as parents. We know the importance of raising a child to make his or her own decisions and to learn from his or her own mistakes, but we also know that some mistakes can be too costly to allow our children to make them.
For example, what would you do as a parent if you stumbled across some unknown and unexplained number on your child's cell phone? You've tried to maintain an open line of communication and you think you know all of your child's friends. They all come up on the Caller ID with their names and pictures, a feature your child is especially proud of.
So who is this mystery caller? Is it possible your child is mixed up in something he doesn't want you to know about? What if it's serious? Is it drugs, or cheating at school, who knows? Now what do you do? Well, the ethics of the situation leave room for deciding, and could paralyze you from taking action. But, if your gut decision is that, in this instance, your child's safety is more important than their privacy, you have a few choices about how to proceed. You could confront your child and demand an explanation. But this puts them in the position of needing to either reveal something they don't want to (and wondering how many other things you've snooped into,) or lying to you, growing the problem.
Another choice you have is to check out the number yourself. Go to the Internet and visit one of the many websites that now offer reverse cell phone lookups and plug the number in. For a reasonable price, these sites can tell you whose number it is, and some impressively detailed information about the individual who has been calling your child. Maybe it's nothing. What a relief that is, when you realize your child is making good decisions and wasn't intentionally keeping anything from you. But, if it's not, and if you now need to confront the child for their own good, at least you have the details you need to reach the child on his own level. Yes, parenting can be a difficult, stressful job. But, when it's done right, the rewards far outweigh the effort, and your kids will thank you for putting forth that effort.

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