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Is it ever OK?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Your teenager isn't acting "right." You feel certain something is "wrong," but you can't get him/her to talk to you. You know that your child keeps a journal. Is it okay to snoop in hopes of finding something that will help you to understand what's wrong and, possibly, help?
post #2 of 19
If you suspect drugs, illness, sex without protection, or anything else that could destroy your child's life, I think you would be justified. You could be saving your child's life. Otherwise, I think a journal is absolutely private property.

The principal of my son's school said he had made it clear to his boys that he would examine their rooms and lockers at any time he chose. He had seen too much to do otherwise, and advised the parents of high school people to do the same.

A lot depends on the child. You have to know the danger signals, dropping grades, too much time alone, a change in personality, unwillness to communicate, unwillingness to get up in the morning, different friends, and belligerence. Some of that is normal. You know your own child, however
post #3 of 19
Wow! What a tough question. Have you tried specifically saying, "I have the feeling that there is something wrong. I'm really concerned about you and want to do whatever I can to help you through whatever is going on." and if she doesn't respond, it is fine to ask her point-blank, "are you using drugs or alcohol?" If she still denies that there is anything going on, and you truly believe down to the core of your soul that something bad is happening, it is okay to look. must KNOW in the deepest part of your soul that there is a problem. It definately would not be okay to look just in case there might be something happening, or just to see what your daughter is up to. Because this is a HUGE violation of trust, you don't want to do it on a whim. It will take a lot of time to undo the damage of violating her trust, so you must do this ONLY if it is the last way possible to protect your child.

post #4 of 19
No, I don't think it is ever right. There has to be privacy and trust issues. If you think there is a problem that can hurt other people you need ot inform someone. But I don't think it is ever right to snop. If you don't find anything and they found out you did it they would never trust you again and think you have no trust in them.
post #5 of 19
Take this child out for a drive. Keep the radio off and talk about anything that comes to mind. This is a neutral place and some kids feel less inhibited there. Good luck.
post #6 of 19
No, do not betray your childs trust. If they ever find out that you went through their belongings the trust that you took many years to build will be shattered. They will only try harder to hide things from you. Instead you should reinforce the idea that you will always be willing to listen to them without reprocautions.
post #7 of 19
No, I don't think it's okay. I would be really mad if my parents went through my journal or my poem notebooks. They know that. If I feel the need to show them, I will. If I don't, I sure hope they have the courage to talk to me about it before snooping. My life is in between those pages. And with my poems -- my mom thinks I'm a freak for writing them, but they help me cope a lot of the time. I write them for myself, not anyone else. Besides, a lot of my writing happens "in the moment" and I don't really think about it. (For example, I might write "I hate mom!" but I really don't hate her, I'm just mad at her, lol.) To me, it just makes more sense to talk to the pages rather than get in big fights. I mean, a day after I write it, I realize how dumb it sounds so I change my mind a lot.

I don't keep locks on my books, and my parents know where they are. I trust they haven't read them or they'd have sent me away long ago.
post #8 of 19
My mother always read my journals. No matter where I hid them, she would search until she found them. There was never anything in them more than pre-teen (and later, teen) angst, and I never was the kind of kid to get into any trouble at all. She just felt it was her right to violate my privacy. I have never completely forgiven her for it.

What is worse, she continued the habit with my younger sisters, and actually once had the unmitigated gall to correct Katie's misspellings with red ink!!! In her own private journal! I'm sorry, but that goes waaay beyond parental privilege.
post #9 of 19

I have kept journals since I was ten- I still keep them today I would of been very upset if my parents or my siblings ever found them when I was growing up. They were safe for me, like books I read, I could escape within the pages.

Why not ask your daughter to write you a letter? If she journals, she must love to write, and I know I am more comfortable with writing than I am in conversation. Plus not having to face the person I am talking to when there are issues and stuff, would also make it easier.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
I just want to let you know know whoever things this pertains to me and my IRL situration it isn't....I just thought about asking.,,,I don't have a teenager anyway...I have a step daughter who will be turning 11 years old June 24..and have found papers just laying around and I happened to see them due to her never cleaning her own room, and I am the one who will do it..the papers say stuff like how her "real" mom left her and her dad(this isn't how it happened), and then how she wishes she could somehow make me and her dad get a divorce..
we have doen counseling, and nothing ever seems to get out in the open...thing really never get talked about, and it is just always the same when we get home.I don't want to go into detail with her just yet..but all I can say is this question is just a question I have been thinking of, and I am not sure what you all think about it...How could I not read something that is on a notebook piece of paper laying half under her bed and half not with other papers strung across her room.....anyway.I just wanted to clarify that this isn't a real life issue, 'yet' that is so, I just wanted to ask to see what everyone's opinion was on it.
post #11 of 19
Not to stray too far off the topic, but I think all children of divorce have a secret little fantasy that their parents will get back together. I know I did, and I think my kids did. Perhaps she left that paper in a place where you would readily see it on purpose, at least subconsciously.

You and your husband have 3 of your own children together. Perhaps that is why your step-daughter feels a bit insecure. I don't know how long you have been her stepmother, but she may have the feeling of not quite belonging. When my father remarried, my brother was the only one of us still at home. My stepmother had 3 kids, and my brother often felt "outnumbered" between himself and her 3 kids in the house. Merging families is never easy. Has she been to counseling on her own, instead of in a family situation? Maybe she'd feel more free to open up.

And now, back to the topic..... I can't swear I'd never read a journal if I suspected something really bad already, but I know that my mother pried into my teenage journal for no good reason, and I have always resented it. I try very hard to keep communication lines open with my kids, not be judgmental about their choices, and always supportive. The reasoning is to build the trust now for when it might truly be needed in the future.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Deb~ It's ok for asking....Maybe she did leave the paper for me to see..I don't know..I showed her dad and he tries to avoid the subject as much as possible,,,it is a very sentisive issue around here..when we did our counseling, they counselour would take her to another room and talk to her for a little while, but nothing was ever said to us about what was talked about,,,,,
her dad has always let her get away with things that the 3 other kids never get away with...I try so hard and she tels Steve stories about how I never treat her the same as the other kids....we have had this discusion before, but if she falls and hurts herself, she has always ben the type to exaggerate and scream bloody murder over nothing practically, but in my eyes, I get her a wet towel, bandaid, and doctor her up and she is alright...well with her dad around..she keep screaming, won't let anyone touch it, and acts like she is just completely dying.....
our problem we have always had is she acts like 2 totally different people when her dad is home vs. when he isn't home..still to this day.....she will be nice(most of the time) and even if her and her sister Amber are playing together and something goes wrong, she turns it into something it isn't and has always had this issue with anger....her dad doesn't deal with her the way I think he my eyes...I am not perfect, I am no professional, but she will put on a show to get attention over nothing if they were playing a game and noone was doing what "she" told them to do , she just calls it quits and everyone else gets upset because she storms off in a tiff since noone is obeying her command....I know I am rambling now...I'll quit..I cold go on all day.....Just wanted to let you know a little bit about our story..there is still more to it,,,,,I think I would bore all of you to death...Steve and I have been married for 6 years..7 in November...she was 4 years old when we married...Steve took her away from her mom when she was a baby...he would NOT let her see her....but what sd has in mind is her mom left them..this isn't the case......
post #13 of 19
Well, it sounds to me like she definitely has some issues about her place in the family, and probably also questions about her natural mother. If she is treated differently than the other kids by her father, she has to pick up on that. Personally, I think further counseling is in order.
post #14 of 19
I say no, take them to a 3rd party to whom they may be able to talk. Counselor, priest, teacher, whatever! Your kid may not be talking to you because they're too embarrassed. It's hard to be completely open with a parent because you usually want to live up to their standards and if you've failed.....
post #15 of 19
Has your husband explained to her WHY he took her from his ex? If the child was in danger or being neglected, she needs to know. Twelve is old enough to understand these things.

I had to sit Mark down and explain to him why his brother had a father around and he didn't. Mark finally caught on that the people who love you and take care of you are your "real" family.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
She doesn't even know he took her away...he has never sat her down and told her the truth.....He avoids the subject by all means and I have told him that someday she is going to find out all by herself and she may end up hating him for keeping it from her....It isn't my place to tell her, but I have come so close to saying it though.
post #17 of 19
Perhaps it is time your husband begin to deal with these issues, for his daughter's sake. She obviously has questions, and in lieu of the truth, is drawing her own conclusions.
post #18 of 19
Originally posted by Rock&Fluff'smom
She doesn't even know he took her away...he has never sat her down and told her the truth.....He avoids the subject by all means and I have told him that someday she is going to find out all by herself and she may end up hating him for keeping it from her....It isn't my place to tell her, but I have come so close to saying it though.
Why isn't it your place?? From what I gather, you two have raised her from four years old together. I think it is totally in your right to talk to her about things that her father won't. By segregating the responsibility to talk to her about something that is so important in your family or at least to the three of you, she may think that you don't want anything to do with raising her and by her father not wanting to talk about it, she may think that he doesn't want her too and so is doing the actress routine to get that attention she craves.

From experience - My mom left my dad when I was one yrs old. My dad has been my dad ever since. When my mom would refuse to talk about what happened, but dad was left to do it. He has the 'outsider view' so to speak so I can trust his story. My mom's version is "he wanted boys, he wated to name you after him, he was etc etc etc'. Personally I believe it is yours right to tell her the truth, otherwise you're not really accepting her as your daughter.


(good luck)
post #19 of 19
Maybe this will help a bit...
I'm 24. And my mum re-married and i had to deal with a step dad when i was quite young.
We're all good family now but we went through some very very bad patches where we didn't talk and stuff like that...

From an ex-teenagers perspective...
(she sounds like angelica from rugrats)
No matter how much you try, so long as your step-daughter still has thoughts that her parents will get back together, there's literally nothing you can do to change her mind...

I don't mean that in a bad way. I just mean that there's sort of no point beating yourself up about it because she's young... and she's entitled to her opinion no matter how far off the truth it may be. So long as you and your husband always act as one when she's around she'll get used to the idea...

My parents made the mistake of playing good cop bad cop with me and so i knew that if my step dad said no, mum would always say yes... This is a serious NO NO even for families where there are no step kids involved. I just read your post about the jeckyll vs hyde personality.... It's really important that you have one set of rules for everyone. You and your husband have to agree on what is acceptable and what is not and stick to it. This is so that your kids know the bondaries and if they cross them there will be repercussions.

also It's never too young to start anger management lessons.

Also, i don't know what your normal family life is like, but maybe she's feeling a little distant from her dad.

I used to get really jealous that my mum spent so much time with my step dad and take it out on him. Maybe the two of them need to form a space for themselves and that will give her a bit more emotional security. Because it really sounds like she's a bit insecure about herself...and has no idea how to deal with her issues.

Also, I was a bit of a drama queen myself when i was a kid so i can relate to the whole falling down and thinking i'm going to die scenario... I think she's testing you... Testing you in the sense of... this is when i need you the most... are you going to be there for me...?? within reasonable boundaries i think it's okay to fuss over her a bit more, just until she feels secure... i'm pretty sure once she feels secure she'll be okay...

and the other thing is that since you've been there from such a young age (4) it's pretty safe to say that you're the mummy... on the other hand at the age of 4 what do kids know about separation and divorce... so she's probably just working all these terms out in her head, maybe at school certain things have caused her to think about it more etc etc etc... so you know....

but don't panic.
it's all just part of being in a patchwork family.
and patchwork families are always more fun.!!
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