While I'm not a parent to any teens, I do vividly recall being one, and I'm self-aware enough to realize I was probably a nightmare. Most teens are. They're not yet adults and not yet children, and they're all about pushing boundaries to assert their independence. However, I would argue it's necessary to loosen the reins a little as your young adults are growing into adult-adults, even though they may try their parents' nerves and patience.
That said, I don't fault parents for wanting to institute some safety precautions to ensure their teens' safety as they navigate new responsibilities like driving. But where does one cross the line between reasonable parenting and abusive control? A recent post in Reddit's "Am I the A-hole" community went viral for just such a debate.
Though the post has since been removed by moderators, it has been preserved on Twitter. The original poster, "mysteryparent," has a 16-year-old daughter who has her own smartphone. As she lists the rules she has in place for her kid, she initially comes off as perfectly reasonable. She has to keep Find My Phone enabled, respond to texts and calls promptly, and keep it charged.
But where things go off the rails is when this parent confesses they also keep a secret iPhone always charged and hidden in the car on silent to track the vehicle's movement when the daughter is out and about. And in using this sneaky tracking solution, they recently caught the teen in a lie.
Though she said she and her friend Brett were studying for "an academic competition and an oratory event," it seems the two teens had other plans. "Mysteryparent" checked the location of both phones and initially found them both at Brett's place as expected, but after dinner, the secret iPhone showed up "clearly in downtown near all the bars and nightlife."
Now, here's where OP parts way with reasonable parents. Rather than using the information to grill their daughter when she got home, Mysteryparent drove to the secret phone's location and found it near "the LGBT nightlife area." Then, OP alerted Brett's dad, too. Turns out, Brett is gay and OP's daughter was trying to help sneak her friend into a gay club in the area. And now poor Brett has been outed to his parents against his will.
However, "mysteryparent" has no remorse for how their obsessive need to catch their daughter in a lie has affected Brett's life. "She continues to think I am the biggest villain in her entire world but really, if I hadn't installed an emergency phone in the car, I wouldn't have known the shenanigans these two were up to under the guise of studying. Sure, I violated her and Brett's privacy, but I feel it's justified."
Even in the best case scenario, Brett has been deprived of the opportunity to choose how and when he came out to his parents, and in the worst case, Brett's safety and security in his home could be compromised. There's just no knowing where his parents stand on LGBT issues. But even setting aside how this incident affects Brett, Mysteryparent's kid has plenty of people on reddit defending her, too.
Was she dishonest with her parents? Sure. But show me a teen who hasn't lied to their parents about where they were going to be at some point and I'll show you a teen with a life half-lived. There can and should absolutely be consequences when a teen gets caught in such a lie, but as many commenters pointed out, Mysteryparent's actions reflect a complete lack of trust in their daughter's ability to make good decisions even while defying her parents.
And there can be very real consequences to this parent's instinct to tighten the reins on their adolescent, as many commenters pointed out. "But all this has done is shown your daughter that you never trusted her, and will likely cause her to have severe trust issues with you for a long time to come. I'm 30, and still am overly secretive to my mom because of her always snooping around my room when I was a teenager," writes "bumbleluv."
Many commenters wondered about the legitimacy of the post given the author says their teen picked up her phone when they called. However, teens are pretty tech savvy and frequently find ways to disable or fool parental controls, as "mysteryparent" basically confirms in the comments. Sadly, they seem more interested in being right than in acknowledging the damage they've possibly done to their daughter's trust and the damage they've certainly done to poor Brett.
They mostly seem concerned with finding new ways to ensure they can confirm their daughter's whereabouts 24 hours a day. In the comments they reveal the new plan is, once she has her phone privileges back, she can expect surprise Facetimes while she's out with friends.
Good luck to "mysteryteen" dealing with this crap for the next two years.