You Can’t Teach A Child To Respect You By Not Respecting Her Privacy

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little girl wants privacyWhat would you do if your 11-year-old daughter had shut her bedroom door in her mother’s face during an argument? One father came to Reddit Parenting to explain what he viewed as a successful response to the misbehavior from the individual he referred to as his “11-year-old smartass, whoops, I mean daughter“: taking her bedroom door off the hinges.

If it had ended there, I’d be okay with it – losing your door for a day seems like a reasonable response to slamming it in your mom’s face. But of course, that wasn’t the last of it. The dad in question put the door back, but with the door came a set of three rules, as follows:

  • You may close the door if you are changing clothes

  • You may close the door if you are in bed, with the lights out intending to sleep

  • You may close the door if you have been given permission to do so.

Having been a middle schooler myself at a long-distant time in the past, I believe that the standard list of tween girl priorities goes something like: 1. privacy, 2. boy bands, 3. TV/video games, 4. privacy. (Okay, for my middle school self you can replace “boy bands” with “Star Trek”, but the point still stands.) I’m not sure that the lack of privacy I had as a kid (non-locking door, phone-eavesdropping, diary-snooping) made me the intensely-private-bordering-on-reclusive person I am today, but I’m not sure it didn’t, either. And in any case, I find it hard to believe that a stance like “you must ask permission anytime you want to have privacy” is a good way to teach your child how to be responsible – let alone respectful of you. If you’re going for ‘distrustful and anxious but obedient’ more than respectful, though, then by all means.

I’m trying to imagine an 11-year-old girl asking for permission to close the door to try to get a grip on exactly what kind of havoc puberty is wreaking on her tweenage body. Or making her try to decide between closing the door to avoid listening to her parents fight and possibly getting in trouble for it, or interrupting the argument to ask for privacy-permission? Awesome. Of course kids need to see consequences for their actions, but when those consequences are so extreme that they happen a youth’s personal development, discipline fails. When parents go off the deep end, kids don’t learn good behavior or develop intrinsic motivation to do the right thing, so much as they learn to toe the line out of fear for tripping Dad’s hair trigger.

(Image: Blend Images/Shutterstock)