Please title this page. (Page 3)
America as a country greatly values privacy and individual right,
so it is no wonder that American parents are perplexed by the idea of searching
their child s room. But common sense and attention to normal childhood
developmental tasks should be the basic guides to parenting, not the technical
aspects of American legal justice. After all, the room is part of a home
where the mortgage, or rent, is paid by the parents, and the child is not
yet an adult supporting him or herself.
With development as the guide, it becomes clear that the room and
its contents become more private as the child gets older. Most young children
are so eager for their parents attention that they welcome entry into the
world of their room as long as one is respectful of their toys and other
possessions. It is actually here that the joining with children should begin.
Establishing early an interest in the child and his or her prized possessions
begins the process of trust and sharing that becomes a foundation for later
talks and discussions.
As children become preteens they become naturally more private and
even reclusive. But there is still a need to be interested in their world
and explore it with them. This can take the form of helping the child to
clean his/her room periodically, re-organizing the closet or drawers, and
re-arranging items on shelves or in bookcases. This kind of process naturally
happens at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. While this
is technically not "searching" it allows you as the parent to keep in touch
with your child s world and to begin to develop your own sense of whether
or not to be concerned enough to go further.
The going further, to actually search -your child s room, should only
be done if one suspects illegal substances or behavior that might be physically
harmful. This includes a wide range of things from drugs or alcohol, to guns,
to hoarding of food. If you as a parent suspect such, then your searching
is an act of caring, not an intrusion on privacy.
Your child needs you to care enough to go the extra step and look.
Chances are if you are suspecting something, your child is dropping clues
to see if you care, and in some way wants what they are hiding to be
If you do search, you must be prepared to do something about what
you might find. This requires thinking ahead and planning together as parents
so that both of you agree about how the situation will be handled.
For divorced parents, this becomes more difficult, but nevertheless
must occur. While the thought of having to search your child s room is unpleasant
and perhaps even distasteful~ the more guarded the child, the more insistent
on privacy, the greater the likelihood of potential danger.
When Shakespeare wrote, "Me thinketh he protest too much?" he was
eluding to the desire to be pursued, caught and thus cared for. Active, caring
parenting may require searching.
What do you think about searching
your opinion and then read what other parents have to say about it.
Written by Susan Villani, M.D., Medical Director of School
Programs, Kennedy Krieger
Institute, Baltimore Maryland.