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Author Topic: invasion of privacy?
cohe223
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I just went away to college two weeks ago, and I got a phone call from my mother saying that m family is very angry at me because my father went through my closet and found an empty bottle of alcohol. First of all, it's none of their buisness what I have in my room, and just because it was there doesnt mean I drank all of it on my own. I happened to bring it back from vacation because it had sentimental value. Do I have a right to be angry? Doesnt going through my things without my consent give me a right to be mad??
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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by cohe223:
Doesnt going through my things without my consent give me a right to be mad??

Not in their house it doesn't. You can feel however you'd like to feel, but until you're paying the mortgage, you aren't making the rules. And while it isn't necessarily polite to be rifling through ones things, neither is it to store alcohol bottles on your parents' premises if they're not the sort of folks who would appreciate such behavior.


The entire "none of their business" mantra really doesn't apply in this case. Since parents have been granted the legal responsibility to regulate what the minors in their household (and in many cases, even adults in their household) are up to, there really isn't much you can do to convince them otherwise. If you were up to no good in their home, they'd be held legally responsible for it. As such, it is absolutely their business to ensure their home is kept free of things they consider problematic or dangerous.

Which is, of course, problematic for many of us. Plenty of us have had to hide things that our parents wouldn't be fond of. My dear friend Fish had the "wall of porn" for years...until we had an earthquake that sent three full years' worth of Penthouse crashing to the floor. His parents were not amused. But it was a risk he took, and when it came time for the punishment, he took it and moved on. Now he's old enough to legally buy his own pornography...and I'm proud to say his place hasn't changed much!

For you, it's much the same scenario. You hid stuff, you got caught, it's pretty much end-of-story. Besides, you are in college now and are presumably moving onwards and upwards from there. A few short years from now this will all mean precious little, and you'll be able to stock your own apartment with booze bottles galore. After all, it worked for Fish! Take care!

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Beppie
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I agree with everything BruinDan said, but in addition to that, why don't you try explaining to your parents, rationally, why you kept that bottle? They may still not be happy to find out you were drinking (I don't know what the legal drinking age is where you're posting from), but if you behave calmly about it, rather than just getting mad, they'll be more likely to calm down themselves. Eventually, if all goes well, you could ask them (nicely), if they would agree not to go through some of your stuff that you feel is private.
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Nightwolf
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My personal opinion.

No it was not right, and I think they should have (calmly) asked you "why" it was there in the first place.


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ladydexter
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This covered what I wanted to say, so up you go!

Last night, my parents rang me up to ask if I was pregnant, because they went through my stuff and found an (unused) pregnancy test (the second of a 2-test kit).

And while it may be their house and blah-de-blah, this is why it's made me so furious:

TWO DAYS AGO we had a discussion and Mom said she would never go through my stuff, and ESPECIALLY not my bag. The pregnancy test was in my bag when she found it because she was "looking for a library book" (which was on the floor next to the bag in plain view).

I guess I just don't appreciate being lied to. I don't go through Mom's stuff, and I would expect the same courtesy.

Any suggestions on what to do? There's nothing in my room now that Mom can find that would get me in bother, but it's the principle of having a liar as a mother, and not being able to trust her to leave well alone when I go away for a couple of days next week.


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Bobolink
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I guess BruinDan's comments still hold. Yes, your mother broke her word to you and you can call her on that. But as long as you live under her protection, room, and board, she pretty much has unlimited snooping privileges.

Just make sure that there is nothing for her to find.

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I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

- Galileo

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 03-25-2005).]


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JamsessionVT
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I really, really have to disagree...

I don't like thinking that parents have unlimited snooping privileges. It bothers me that some parents have so little respect for their kids, some of whom are adults themselves, that they feel the need to snoop and pry to find things out.

I wonder quite a bit what happened to plain old talking? I was raised on the notion that if it's not yours, don't touch it, don't rifle through it, and if you want something that's not yours, ask before you go rummaging through their stuff. It was never ok, no matter how old or young you were, to go through someone elses personal things, no matter what you were looking for...(there are exceptions to that, but not any present in this case)

Maybe it's my paranoia, but I'd be a little mad if I found out my parents completely disrespected my privacy and dug through my things, and found something that maybe made them mad...(and hey, it's happened; my mom went through my drawers in my dresser, found 2 unused condoms, and immediately pinned on me the "how could you do this under our roof and noses?!" speech...when the condoms in question were handed out in our Sex Ed. class) I've always expected the privacy is a right, and that of all people parents would respect it, whether or not they pay the mortgage and are legally responsible for me.

While I absolutely believe that it's a good idea to not keep things around that your parents might find and not think all too highly of, I feel as though privacy is a boundary that no age has absolute control over.

[This message has been edited by JamsessionVT (edited 03-25-2005).]


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LilBlueSmurf
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I don't like thinking that parents have unlimited snooping privileges

Whether you like thinking about it or not, they kinda do ... They're paying the bills, and until you start paying up or move out, they have absolute say as to what is and is not okay under their roof.

I agree w/ Bobolink ... All you really 'have' her on is that she went against her word. How can she expect you to trust her if she's lying? What was she really looking for, in going through your things? How often does she do this?

I also agree w/ JamsessionVT, about talking and trust and everything else ... But i think that's an 'ideal', and not everyone works that way. Trust is very fragile, and has to be earned. I don't think everyone just deserves to be trusted, or when you're living in someone elses house, deserves such privacy.


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ladydexter
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God only knows what she was really looking for, but since I've started having sex with my fiance, she's taken to rooting a little more frequently. I don't know why, since she knows damn well I have condoms and lube and such like. She also knows I have small amounts of alcohol in my room, to which she doesn't object otherwise I wouldn't have them. She also went through my bin and shouted at me because there was a couple of used condoms in there, wrapped in tissue, mind. Well where else am I supposed to stick them - up my nose?

(Please note the bin was due to be emptied the next day, which is why they were in there, otherwise I'd have disposed of them in the downstairs bin which is emptied daily. It kills me that she opened a squidged up lump of toilet roll to see what was in it. Hee!)

Incidentally, I AM paying my way here. I pay my share of what I use, even though I'm rarely here because I'm either at work or out with my fiance.

EDIT: Also, re the condoms: my parents have no objection to me having sex in this house, in my room. In fact, they're quite happy for me to do so, because at least I'm inside and safe and prepared here. Provided I don't rub their noses in it (squeak the bed, leave condom wrappers lying about, etc.), they're fine with it. (And no, the condoms in my bin were perfectly well hidden - as far as anyone knew without meddling with the tissue, I blew my nose on it.)

[This message has been edited by ladydexter (edited 03-28-2005).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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I haven't read this thread in a long time, and i just thought of something.

Okay, we've all had our folks find something compromising and we've all goten busted for it. Well newsflash to the original poster and those of you who sympathize: the poster actually broke a house rule. And the poster's mom got mad. And the mom had every right to be mad because the poster broke a rule. The person tries to soften it by saying he/she didn't drink *all* of the alcohol, but that claim also screams "Yes, I've been drinking and I'm underage."

Well no surprises, the person got busted for it. At least the punishment wasn't a big one. I mean, if you break a rule, then suck it up and take your punishment like you're supposed to.

Now, if you've been a perfect angel (and no one is, that's a side-effect of adolescence) and your folks are all in your stuff and your space, then I'd sympathize. But you've really got no case if you've been busted for breaking the rules. Let's the orchestra of very tiny violins play...

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PERVasive
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I thought I'd resurrect an interesting thread...

I'm gonna have to side with JamsessionVT here. Yes parents have the legal right to search through their kids' stuff, but legal rights are not the issue here. The issue is respect. You don't go around telling your friends to STFU all the time because it's disrespectful, even though you have the legal right to do so. The same reasoning applies here.

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- PERVasive

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daria319
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I never really had a problem with my mother snooping until I moved away to college. Now, she snoops when she comes to visit. Mind you, her name is NOT on ANY of my loan papers, and I am 20 years old. I live in a campus-sanctioned apartment with three friends. Financial aid pays for me to live here, for my books, tuition, etc. The only time she shells out a dime is for my food because I'll lose financial aid if I work, and I don't even have a car.

Even according to the student handbook, she,(a visitor on this campus) has no right to poke around through my things (hell, there's not even anything for her to find, unless she's really that interested in the bottle of aspirin on my nightstand!) without my permission.

Is there any real way to get her to stop, short of just saying "Stop it. Get out." and locking the door?


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DarkChild717
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Have you pointed it out to her that you notice? Perhaps she doesn't see it as snooping. I know that when I go see a friend's new digs, I look around, and see what is there. Might it be snooping? I'm not looking for anything, I'm just orienting myself to the place.

So, I guess just tell her that you don't appriciate her snooping. Tell her she's welcome to your asprin, and that there's nothing for her to find, so please stop looking. If that doesn't work, then talk to a counselor on campus and see if they have any suggestions. Shutting your mom out might not be an option, since she pays for your food. There has to be a middle ground.


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daria319
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She only snoops when my stuff is disorganized, or if there's any paper in sight. She picks up poetry, flyers, sometimes even notes from my computer programming class, and yells out "what the hell is this?!" like she's pissed off.

So far, I've managed to at least keep the mess out of sight, so she has nothing to poke through.

The thing is, logic doesn't seem to work with her. Last time, she picked up my Java textbook, started flipping through the notes from class that I stuffed in the cover, went through the usual reaction, and still didn't shut up or put the book down when I told her what it was three or four times. Of course, by the third time, I was damn near yelling.(I get frustrated when I have to repeat myself.) All she did was call me by my full name and tell me not to raise my voice at her. My dad's been helping a little,though. He took the book out of her hand, put it back on my desk, and kind of guided her out of the room.

Still, logic does nothing to this woman..How am I supposed to communicate with her if I don't understand what she's doing?


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Heather
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I would actually try saying directly -- VERY directly -- either verbally or with a leter, the following:

"When you are in my own space, which this is as I am now an adult, I need for you to respect my privacy. If you cannot, I can meet you outside when we visit. I need to be heard on this."

Sounds kind of harsh, but it seems like a big wakeup call may be what is needed.


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aliyeva87
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There is no right of privacy for the kids in my house. The first time my mother heard of it, she laughed.

As for the alcohol, your mom not only has the right to be angry because it was in her house, but because you also broke the law.


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JamsessionVT
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(Hey aliyeva87, welcome to Scarleteen! As a user on these boards, we ask that you do a few things that are laid out in the Guidelines (you can find them at the top of the page in the blue tool bar next to the "Sound Off!")...we also ask that when you are posting, that you post pertinent information that isn't just basically repeating what 5 other users have said. You've pulled up some threads that are a few months old and are no longer active to repost what other users have already pointed out, so in the future, please try to post only when you have something new to add to the thread. Thanks!)
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aliyeva87
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Hi Jam,

I appreciate your welcome.

As far as what I posted, I think only one other person made reference to the fact that this is not just a question of house rules but of *breaking the law*. That makes it pertinent. Also, if there is a time limit on responses shouldn't you close topics that have not have any activity for awhile? Just my 2 cents.


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wobblyheadedjane
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We keep threads like these open because they often contain good information for people asking similar questions, and we can direct them here to continue the conversation so to speak. Jam's comment was more in reference to the fact that the original poster is likely not reading this thread for advice any longer - but new users might come here to ask for new advice about a related topic to parents and privacy.
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papou_fruit
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In my opinion, you'd have every right to be mad at your folks for invading your privacy, no matter who they are.
But... what are they going to do about it?
The obvious right thing to do is admit that you were drinking underage, or whatever your case is, and accept the fact that what you had or did under your parents roof was wrong just because...well...they're your parents.
If you have parents like most people have, it's usually the "What I say is what goes" rule. It's hard to accept, but that's how it is.
If you're still not satisfied with that answer and seek more justice... then be mad.
I know I can be a brat like that, and so can any other teenage or college student. It just depends on what kind of person you are.
If I was in that situation, if my parents let's say... found the empty alcohol bottle in my closet.
I'd usually ask what they were doing in there the first place... because my room is very very messy. My parents know my room is MY ROOM with my stuff in it. Then I'd atleast try to chew them out, but most likely, I'd still get yelled at.
But for stuff like... if they found a condom in my own car that I bought, what would the rules apply there? Pre-marital sex is frowned upon greatly in the religion my parents raised me as... but I told them I dismissed it recently.
If you really want to get technical, there is some sort of age law about having sex in states and countries, and I'm over that age.

I might be rambling a bit, but it all comes down to "if you know it'll upset your parents and if it's illegal, DONT DO IT."


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Michelle Ravel
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I know this is an old thread, and that the people we're originally advising probably don't need any help anymore, but I have a bit of a trick which might help anyone in a similar situation to Daria's. It helps me get along with any/all of my family members and friends. (Daria's mother had a penchant for randomly looking through her stuff in her dorm room, and commenting angrily for no reason.)

Mums like to snoop. It's what they do. Yelling is another thing they like to do sometimes. In fact, if your mother is just visiting you now, instead of living with you, she probably has to get in a good yell every time she visits to make her feel better. Do you get that sense? So why don't you just let her do what she does and stop reacting like a defensive kid?

I know you feel like yelling at her, or confronting her, or giving her ultimatums or boundaries. But you're a grown-up now. Why not try: LAUGHING. It might dispell the whole situation.

Next time she rifles through your stuff, and asks, "What the hell is this?" take a deep, calming breath, laugh, and answer, "Those are my notes for class, Mom. Why, are you checking up on me? That's sweet of you." Then just sit there and watch her open your notebooks. Do not panic. You are the one in control here. They're your books, and your life, and your dorm room, and you're not ashamed of them.

If you really do have "nothing to hide," like you say, then what are you afraid of her seeing? Just calmly watch her reading your stuff and act amused/touched. This really works. Parly because it allays her fears. If you don't care what she sees, and act like it, she'll be less likely to want to snoop. She'll feel more comfortable letting you have your own life, because she'll understand you don't have anything to hide. The laughing trick also works because your initial amused reaction might embarass her. If you simply watch her go through your desk, she may start to see how silly she's being.

This may take a couple of tries before she feels calm enough to stop. But on the upside, if she's reading your notes, she may learn something about computer programming!

I know this is a long post, but I feel strongly about this. Often large blow-ups can be avoided by dealing with them humourously instead of angrily. I'd be happy to see if this has worked for anyone else.


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daria319
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I have a hard time not reacting when she yells because at home, the yelling usually came right before a slap across the face. My mother and I don't have a normal parent-child history.

Also, I've been living away from home for three years. She agreed to quit snooping/cleaning during my freshman year. I'm a junior now. If she can't keep her word after she keeps promising to give me my privacy and space, it's kind of hard to stay calm.

I don't appreciate being lied to by anyone -- especially a parent.


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Michelle Ravel
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Well, of course it's different if your previous relationship involved violence like that, and she seems determined to be hysterical.

I'm so sorry.


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daria319
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Thanks. My dad tries to keep her under control when they visit, and I try not to be under their roof very often. That generally keeps me pretty safe lately.
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