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{Poll} Should You Read Your Child's Journal?

Kaela Worthen Gardner - September 13, 2012


Have you ever read your child's journal? Would you? Find out the pros and cons of keeping up on your child's personal life and share your own opinion.

Dear Diary. Those are two words that form the prelude to the spilling of the deepest secrets, struggles, crushes, and drama a person's life can hold.

Usually, though, those words are meant for only that one addressee: Diary. And according to any teenager writing about the injustices of curfews and the hot boy at school, those words are most certainly not intended for their parents.

But does that mean parents shouldn't read them? I can see both sides of the argument: respecting your children's privacy, trusting them to do the right thing, etc. But I've also heard stories of parents learning that their child is experimenting with sex or drugs by reading their journal. And while most journals won't reveal secrets that dramatic, maybe they will let a parent know that the child is feeling neglected in favor of other siblings, or being picked on at school, or struggling with his/her testimony.

These insights can be a huge help in the understanding your children and how to parent them more effectively, but is it worth it if deception is at its root? What about Facebook messages, emails, and text messages? Many parents have policies with their children that they have access to passwords and can check them at anytime; is there a difference between reading a Facebook message to a friend and a journal entry? You tell us.

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Do you (or would you) read your child's journal?

Do you read your child's Facebook messages, text messages, or emails?

WHY or WHEN is it okay or not okay to read your child's journal?

Tell us in the comments below.

© LDS Living, 2012.
Comments 9 comments

conmom56 said...

05:57 AM
on Sep 13, 2012

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If I felt my child was in danger, like if they ran away, or their behavior was changing drastically, I might. But not just to be a snoop. That's private stuff.

mysticmayhem said...

10:32 AM
on Sep 13, 2012

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You should work to have the kind of relationship with your child so that sneaking into their journal becomes obsolete. If you have to do that to find out what's going on, the communication between you two failed somewhere.... and now trust and respect are next.

jfarker said...

03:54 PM
on Sep 13, 2012

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I agree with conmom56. If there was evidence of a dramatic negative shift in my child's behavior or mood over a period of time, I would investigate in every way possible. For the average 'bad day' sort of trouble, I would respect their privacy. I am 'friends' on Facebook with each of my teens, so I have daily access to their online activities. Emails are password protected, but we can override them with our parental controls if needed. Texts are trickier since I don't know their phone passwords, but if they are doing okay I choose not to worry about it. We routinely discuss the principles in the "For the Strength of Youth" booklet at FHE, and our kids are doing well for now. I guess we would depend on the Spirit to warn us if there was a problem with 'sexting' or the like.

mjduley said...

12:03 PM
on Sep 14, 2012

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I agree with the above posters who said it is warranted in situations where the child has shown a dramatic shift in behavior or mood. Yes, it would be nice if parents and children could communicate in such a way that reading their journal was never necessary, but we don't live in a perfect world. As a teen I didn't feel comfortable talking to ANYONE about my feelings of depression and suicide, including my parents, even though I had a very loving, open relationship with them. I just wasn't the type of person (and I'm still not) to feel comfortable discussing the deepest feelings of my heart with anyone else. If I'd kept a journal at the time, my mom could have learned about my suicide attempts much earlier, instead of having to be told by my guidance counselor at school (a friend saw the slash marks on my arm that I'd been trying to hide and notified my counselor). said...

07:07 PM
on Sep 15, 2012

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I wish I HAD read my child's journal when he was in high school. It would have given me a heads up that he was having a problem with drugs. I would have intervened lot sooner and alleviated some very tragic and brutal events in his life. As a youth, he was not aware of the long term consequences of his actions. It's been a long, hard road in helping him to sobriety.

bgtaylor4 said...

01:39 PM
on Sep 16, 2012

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Whatever your views on privacy, which I personally feel is overrated, this is certainly not a right of an adolescent. We have an obligation as parents to learn and know everything we can about our children by any means possible. And in this age, only a foolish parent would opt out of reading what our children's peers (also immature, and not entitled to privacy), teachers and most everyone else in their lives get to read and view in texts, emails, diaries, journals, school papers/writing assignments... to be informed as to what they are thinking and thereby predicting what they will do and knowing when they need help.

bridget said...

11:31 AM
on Sep 20, 2012

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No, you should not read your child's diary. You should pray to the Lord and he will give you all the information you need. Then you must act on his direction as to what is appropriate. People may think their private thoughts are private, but the Lord knows everything. You cannot as a child or as an adult hide anything from Him. Parents have a special connection to the Lord, and he is more than willing to help parents curb their children's naughtiness and keep them from harm. I know when I was a kid, we could get away with absolutely nothing because my parents always seemed to know everything ... in advance. All they had to do was pray and there was nothing we could hide. I was smart enough to see that disobedience didn't pay. My dad had a direct line to the Lord and there was no possibility of getting away with anything. I remember once I had done something (probably minimal, since I don't remember what it was) in elementary school and didn't want to get a spanking. So I "ran away" after school to the woods behind our yard. My dad found me without the least trouble. I know even today that my dad could be given any information he needed from the Lord. I have experienced it myself. You want to know people's innermost thoughts and intentions? Go to the Lord.

uneva said...

08:27 PM
on Sep 21, 2012

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Everyone should know that FB entries are public info, unless personally restricted. That restriction should be an understanding between parent and child. FB's main (but not only) purpose is communication with friends and family. A Journal, on the other hand, is a private place where someone can vent feelings they don't care to share with anyone. Writing in a Journal, and re-reading your entries, helps you get a better personal perspective on your life. It should only be read by someone other than the writer if/when the writer invites that particular someone to read it. Even then, it shouldn't be shared with others. A rare exception to this would be if something extremely tragically unusual has happened in a person's life, and reading their Journal might lead to some info that could save their life...or their soul.

uneva said...

08:32 PM
on Sep 21, 2012

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I like BRIDGET's comment. I wish all parents could be that in tune with the Holy Spirit. Sadly, it seems that most of us aren't.
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