Individual privacy is sacrosanct, but most parents don’t think twice about intruding into their teen’s personal space. Here’s why and how you should respect your teenager’s privacy.
By Arun Sharma
It is ironic that while our awareness about our right to privacy is increasing, so is the struggle to protect our personal space from inquisitive intruders.
But, what exactly is privacy?
The definitions of privacy, propounded by various intellectuals, are many and diverse. However, the Psychology Dictionary (psychologydictionary.org) defines it as, “The right to control other's access to one's personal world, whether psychologically of physically.”
According to Alan F Westin, Professor of Public Law and Government Emeritus, Columbia University, and author of the book, ‘Privacy and Freedom’, “Privacy is the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.”
In simple terms, privacy is all about having the right to regulate how much access others have to us and to our personal space.
While our prosocial traits encourage us to share with others, maintaining a realm, or demarcating a sphere of our life, that is off-limits to others also comes naturally to us. And, this desire for privacy is critical, as it pushes us to create an unobtrusive zone for ourselves. Within this space, we feel safe – from being criticised or judged, to give vent to our feelings, to live without conforming to established rules, to preserve our darkest secrets and much more.
As children reach teenage, they begin to express a desire for greater independence and the need for privacy. According to *Arundhati Swamy,
“A teen’s need for privacy is expressed in subtle, devious or forthright ways. She may ask for a separate room for herself, to knock on the door or seek permission before entering or insist on locking the door from the inside. Common strategies include setting a password for access to their phone and computer; using the easiest and quickest ways to close a gadget window, moving away when receiving a call or using code words during phone conversations, code names to conceal the caller’s identity. Sometimes, a straightforward message or accusation can stun the parent during an argument.”
Now that we know how deeply teens yearn for privacy and how protective they are of it, let’s look at some simple things that we, as parents, can do to respect our teen’s privacy.
Giving your teen his privacy may make him feel more comfortable and accepted, but, it can also backfire. Your teen may misinterpret the new-found freedom as the permission to do whatever he likes. So, while you maintain a distance and give him the freedom from interference, also draw a line which he shouldn’t cross.
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