Dear parents: no, you don’t “give” me my privacy.

Posted by Aanchal Sethi
July 7, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Fourteen. The age that is still at the beginning of your teenage years, and is one where you are just starting to experience many new things in your life, are starting to have many doubts and confusions. At a time like that, its very important to have people around that you are close to and can trust completely, especially your parents. Now imagine having that trust being violated by your very own parents. My mother never understood the concept of privacy, always barging into my room and checking my school bag to satisfy her ever-suspicious mind. While this would annoy me to no end, it never hurt me as much as the time when my mother went through my phone and, on seeing that I was texting a boy, which is apparently a crime, gave me an earful about it. I never trusted her with my things after that.

This raises two very important questions:

  1. Why is it so wrong for a teenage girl to have conversations with a boy?

2. Why do parents never understand that their children require privacy as well?

I’m going to lay emphasis on the second question for now.

“What do you mean, I don’t give you your privacy? You have all the privacy you want!”

“You kids and your need for privacy. Always locked away in your rooms.”

“Why do you always close your bedroom door? What do you keep doing in there?

If you’ve ever been anywhere between the ages of 1419, these sentences will sound familiar to you. These are the words that every teenager (especially an Indian teenager) hears at least once in their teenage years. Privacy is a concept that seems foreign to most adults, especially when it comes to teenagers and young adults. Barging into their rooms and sneaking a peak into their texts is something that is extremely normal to them, and god forbid we try and question them about it. The answer is always the same- “I am your parent. What do you have to hide from me?”

To which I wish I could respond- yes, mom, dad, I have things I don’t tell you, because I am a growing person, I will not be telling you everything that’s going on in my life. No, you don’t need to know why I am smiling at my phone screen. I will not always give you exact details down to the hour of where I am going and what I will be doing. You can always try and knock before coming into my room.

Unfortunately, any response revolving around that is considered disrespectful, and “we are your parents, we know what’s best for you.” is the answer that’s given to us before they go back to trying to make themselves present in every part of our life.

Now, I understand that this isn’t something everyone has to deal with, as is the case with most problems around the world, but the number of teenagers who have to live with this on a daily basis is very, very high.

I also understand the main, and most common reason for why parents do this. It’s because most of them want to make sure that their child is safe, and telling them the important things, and not making any bad decisions. We get that, we really do.

Real life experiences of many people, however, have proven the opposite to be true. Many people have said that the more their parents try to infuse themselves into their life, the more they become wary of telling them about the important things that happen. Instead, people talk about how when their parents stop trying to actively (and sometimes forcefully) be a part of their life, they were more inclined towards telling them about the big things that happened in their life. Moreover, it helped to build a mutual sense of trust between themselves and their children.

So this is how you can go about trying to make this known to your parents, without having them dismiss you or yell at you: (hint- yelling and whining will never work. Ever.) Its going to be very hard, but I encourage you to sit and talk to your parents yourself. Let them know about the little things that happen in your day. You can tell them as much as you’re comfortable with sharing. It will take time, energy, and it will frustrate you to no ends, but in time, the results will start to show. Your parents’ trust will grow, and will also start respecting your words when you tell them to knock before entering your room, or to not look into your phone.

Unfortunately, though, this method might not work for everyone, as some parents are fixed in their ways and don’t want to mend them. If your parents are like that, this is what you can do:

  • Find yourself a place of refuge- either a friend’s house or that of a close relative. Somewhere you can go when things become too much for you at home.
  • Try talking to an adult who you know will understand you, and ask them for tips on how to work around your parents’ habit.
  • Try and make sure to not leave your things such as your phone lying around in plain sight. Since you know they won’t change, you don’t want to make it easier for them to invade your space.

I understand that this might not seem like a very big issue to many, but for the people who deal with this on a daily basis, going through a day is like an endless round of being extra careful of their things and having to answer unnecessary and many times, extremely personal questions, and hence, it is an issue that is worth being brought into light.

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