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Carolyn Hax: Mom snoops on her teens’ texts – even those by her 19-year-old

Published: Monday, May. 26, 2014 - 10:20 pm

DEAR CAROLYN: My phone plan allows me to see the texts of my kids, 19, 17 and 14. I monitor their chat occasionally. I don’t let them know, and don’t plan on intervening unless something gets completely out of control.

Selfishly I like to see chats from the oldest, who is away at school, giving me some assurance he’s alive! Thoughts?

– Seeing

DEAR SEEING: Plenty of thoughts, but none as important as what your kids would think.

The eldest especially. Wow. The “selfishly” says you know you’re crossing a line with him. Stop reading his texts immediately.

Snooping on the youngers also crosses a line, but I don’t recommend dropping that habit completely.

While I believe strongly that kids need some private spaces, I also think Cyberia has different rules, because it’s a mistake to foster an expectation of privacy online.

For that reason, I support the parental snoop – but with one important condition. Tell your kids. Warn them you have access and aren’t afraid to use it. Provide them with the following context:

You’re not interested in checking often; you’re not going to say anything about what you see or get involved unless absolutely necessary; and you’re not in this to get anyone in trouble. You’re doing it solely to get them used to the idea that “online privacy” is an oxymoron.

Fringe benefit: Watch them get off your plan as soon as they can produce the cash.

DEAR CAROLYN: So, the guy I’m seeing has requested that I lose weight. I have not gained weight since we started dating, but I would like to lose weight and could certainly afford to lose 20 pounds.

This is strictly about attractiveness from his perspective, as far as I can tell. There was no verbiage about unhealthy habits or concern for well-being. I do work out regularly, though probably not enough, and I love my evening wine. So, there’s room for improvement. I don’t know what to do while I lose weight or even if I can. This has affected my self-confidence.

– Weighty Question

DEAR QUESTION: This isn’t (just) a weight issue. You’re dating someone who dents your self-confidence vs. enhancing it. What’s the point of his companionship if brings you down?

You got to your current shape not by being sick, apparently, or self-destructive, or depressed, or ignorant of self-care; you got there by being your workout-dabbling, wine-enjoying self. Logic dictates bypassing years of anguish and holding out for someone who adores your natural state.


Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax.



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