Privacy is always important for young people. So too, though, is having the protection offered by parental oversight. As your children get older, it’s important to think about how you’re going to balance their need for freedom with your own need to keep them safe. Doing so isn’t always easy, but it’s a necessity. Below are a few things you’ll need to do.

Have the Conversations

The first step along the path to finding balance is talking with your children. Be sure to discuss what your expectations are and ask your child what they expect from you. Try to find a personal balance so that you can both feel comfortable. Let your child know that you might not have to call them every time they are out if they promise to text you first, for example, or let them know that they won’t be locked out of electronics if they can be used properly. Letting your child exercise restraint is a great way to help him or her grow while still keeping him or her safe.

Know the Difference between Protection and Prying

There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to monitoring your child’s electronic communications. On one hand, you want your child to be able to interact with friends freely and appropriately. On the other, you want to keep your child safe. Always try to err on the side of overall protection rather than prying for specific information. Think about using cell phone monitoring apps or computer programs that show you what your child is doing instead of providing specific information at a glance. You should know what’s going on, but you don’t necessarily need to dig into the specifics until doing so becomes a necessity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Adapt

It’s also important to remember that your approach can and should change over time. You should give different types of freedom to a teen than a small child, and you should exercise more trust for children who have earned that trust. Don’t firmly commit to one plan and see it through when it isn’t working—consistently look at your strategy and figure out if it is working for both of you. If you need to change, it’s not a failure—it’s being a good parent.

Finding balance in terms of privacy is a matter of paying attention. Talk to your child, use tools that help you accomplish your goal, and don’t be afraid to adapt. In time, you’ll find an approach that is right for you.

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