Parents have a duty to check phones

YOU do really have to wonder about parenting in this country when parents are feeling guilty about checking their teenagers’ mobile phone messages.

The vast majority of parents have paid for these pricey little toys and are being harangued every week for money for credit and yet somehow we aren’t feeling confident enough in ourselves as parents to exert authority.

We all know that parents will never be able to control their teenager’s every move – and to try to do so will most likely cause even more rebellion – but surely parents have a moral duty to offer a little of a “rough guide to the world” until their offspring are 18 years of age? And that duty involves doing your best to ensure your very impressionable half-adult, half-child is not placing themselves in danger.

This doesn’t mean we will be able to prevent our teen from getting outrageously drunk, from wanting to take a pull off a first cigarette or getting righteously stoned.

And parents, unless they put their child under virtual house arrest or look for a chastity belt online, have got to face up to the reality that they will not be able to prevent their teenagers from having sex – if that’s what they are looking for.

Parents may cringe as they hear themselves sounding like old Anne Widdecombe or Archbishop McQuaid – or worse still their own parents – but why are parents losing faith in their very important function? Why are parents letting their teenagers plot their compass from their peers or from some low budget US drama series?

The ISPCC says that technology and peer pressure pose much more of a likely threat to Irish teenagers than any Phillip Garrido ever will and that Irish teenagers’ mental health is suffering.

Whether its cyber bullying or pressure from peers to send graphic photographs to some guy they fancy, children have to be made aware of the pitfalls of such supposedly adult activities.

The reality is that teenagers will scream at you, physically block their ears to further undermine you when you try and talk to them. They will probably threaten to move into a squat if they are casually made aware that you sometimes check what’s in their sent box.

But since when did that become something that frightens parents? Since when did their outbursts pressurise us?


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