I knew that my teen's life would be complicated and full of moral quandaries but I didn't expect that I would also have ethical questions to consider as the mother.
Sharing information about the ins and outs of your kids is common practice on the schoolyard and for years it has helped me, and other parents understand what is going on in our kids' lives. But what happens when the kids start wandering into teen territory and privacy becomes a concern?
I am one of the lucky ones right now because my son tells me what is going on (or at least he tells me bits and pieces). For instance, I know the big thing is 13-year-olds trying the vapourless e-cigarettes.
Another mother and I were talking about it, when she asked me if I could find out if her son had tried smoking. My first reaction was a big NO, and so was my second.
I am not going to spy on the other kids through my talkative child. I have no guarantees that he would tell me the truth, nor do I want to break whatever fragile trust I have. So I told her that I would not do that. Obviously, I would tell her if her child was engaging in risky behaviour but I am not going to ask my kid to be the snitch unless I absolutely have to. (Goes without saying that if I thought a kid was at risk for harm, I would be on the phone in an instant.)
Another mother was telling me that a school mom was bragging that her grade seven child wasn't on Facebook. But my friend knew otherwise because the girl had friended her on Facebook under an alias. But she didn't tell the other mother at the time, nor did she tell her on the schoolyard. She said she was tortured by the guilt. What if the other mother found out she knew?
She should call her and tell her now? I said no, stay out of it. (Not sure about friending a kid with an alias on Facebook, but can't go back now.)
Teens are not wired to trust adults and the example you set before your own kids about how you handle information is very important. I want my kids to trust me; I want to know the gossip, and the hard stuff. It is against my nature to be an information vault -- but it is the only way to get more information.
So don't ask me to spy on your kids, I won't. But I will admit to a little bit of Facebook creeping...
Do your kids talk to you? What do you do with the information?
Want more chaos? Last year, I was very anxious after the Eaton Centre shooting.