Sunday, June 12, 2011

Parents Spying on Their Adult(ish) Children

This post is going to be a bit different from what I have done in the past.  I’m going to write my thoughts, and then open it up to my readers to give their input.  Please don’t hesitate to chime in, even if you disagree with what I have to say.  I want all different perspectives.  Thanks in advance!


The Chauvinistic Authority Doctrine (CAD) requires a father to monitor and control their children’s every movement and even their every thought.  If their nose hairs so much as twitch out of line, this doctrine states that there is rebellion in the son’s or daughter’s soul.  This also goes for that man’s wife.   Nothing does, nor should it, escape his careful and searching eye.  In the isolated instance that something does, that individual or inanimate object must come clean immediately in order to continue in the good graces of the god man.

Sometimes, a CAD man will spy on his young adult and adult “children” through hacking into social media that they use.  By spying, we are not talking about viewing their profiles and posts.  Rather, it is the act of hacking into their accounts and viewing their private chats and messages.  

Frankly, unless the parent has initially told the child that they will be doing this, I don’t know that I would EVER condone this practice.   That is none of the parent's business.  This is an adult we’re talking about here – the parent's peer.  Would the parent’s co-workers appreciate it if it was discovered that he was hacking into whatever electronic medium they were using to communicate with others, just to keep tabs on them, having not been informed of this potentiality in the Employee Handbook?  If it WAS in the Handbook, go to town!

But, let’s look at the child psychology that is at play here and then we’ll check in on the parent’s, later on.

If I was a teen or young adult, living in a CAD dad’s house (or even not living there…) and was informed that I was going to be hacked or spied on, every second of every day, it would take a Forrest Gump-like psyche to actually leave electronic tracks that could incriminate me ANYWHERE on the cyberwaves.  And I mean ANYWHERE!  I would do my darndest to hide anything and everything from my overbearing old man.  If he ever caught up with me, I would deny, deny, deny.  He wouldn’t get a shred of truth out of me.  And, if he did happen to beat or squeeze it forth (sadly, a CAD adherer will do this to their “children” of any age…I know…I’m living proof), I would learn my lesson so well that it would take Houdini and six of his relatives to even catch a scent of what I was continuing to cook.  It’s that simple.

Now, here is my take on the parent.  CAD dad, if you have to hack into your adult children’s social media to keep your hyper-religious, uber-obligatory tabs on them, you’ve failed buddy.  Big time!  If you’re adult children need your guiding hand at that level here’s a simple news flash (I’ll put it in caps so it’s easier for you to read):


How do I know this?  Well, it’s quite simple, actually.  If you have held your children’s hands throughout their life so much so that they cannot get breakfast on their own without your permission, where they cannot so much as even take a piss without your say-so, where they can’t even go out on the town for a night without worrying about what you are thinking WHILE they party and what you will think WHEN they return, you’ve failed to rear forward thinking, self-sufficient, successful offspring.  In short, you lost.  Get over it. 

But there’s more at stake here.  Especially for adult children – Why, as a parent, do we want them to be protected from everything?  As an adult who has been on your own for years, you don’t have someone holding your hand, every step of the way, shielding you from impending – many times, imagined – danger.  Why can’t a CAD parent allow his teen, young adult, and adult children to fail?  To fall?  To hit rock bottom?  To get Crispy Creamed?

The fact is, if negative things DO happen to them, the last thing they will do is come crawling home to dear old dad for solace because, after all, they failed him.  If they had only done what he told them to do at every point in their lives, nothing bad would have happened to them.  Thus, the bad thing that caused them to fail was only due to not allowing the guiding hand to do all the work.  What’s worse, what if the bad thing happened WHILE the guiding hand was doing all the work?  Who to go to then?

I want to be waiting to lick the wounds of my children if they ever come crawling back home.  I want them to want to come to me for my advice.  Not out of expectation, but because I’m an insecure loser of a father and I am easily flattered.  They don’t even need to need it.  Just fake it once in a while.  But most importantly, I want to have taught them all the foundational lessons that I think they’ll need when they jump from the nest and fly away – hoping beyond all hope, that they won’t be as much a screw-up as their dear old daddy was.

With all that desire, more than likely, they’ll end up asking their mommy instead.


So, what do you think?  Did I miss something?  Am I way off base?  My oldest is only nine.  Am I in for a surprise?  Do tell!


  1. Sadly, there are some "ifs" here. How old are the adult kids in question, and do they live at home?

    The dad is a failure, who obviously gets his strength from controlling his family.

    IF these scenarios are real, then those kids ought to a) move out; b) block their dad from their facebook; c) change their computer password every 15 minutes; d) buy their own computer; e) did I say move out?

    Now here's my IF -
    IF I was a parent with a teen, living in my house, eating my food, unready to face life as an adult just yet, and IF I legitimately believed that teen was engaging in illegal and/or dangerous behavior, and IF I believed this teen was deliberately being secretive and evasive and shifty, and IF I thought he was genuinely unsafe - I might attempt to find out what's going on. But it would have to be major to prompt me to do such a thing.

    But those are immense IFs.

    A teen or young adult, still at home, or even not, has to be trusted, just on the basic fact that we as parents are to believe the best about our children. REALLY! We are supposed to believe the best, not assume the worst.

    A kid/adult OUGHT to have a facebook page with the ability to voluntarily friend his parent and that parent ought to respect the kid/adult enough to be their friend on facebook with their trap firmly shut.

    I have a 15 year old. He bought a computer for his 15th birthday and we said "sure" to starting up facebook. We are friends on facebook. I read his crap, he reads mine. We have an open, talking, trusting relationship at home in real life.

    And there's the rub - the psycho dad above in your scenario? The relationship that dude has with his children in real life must be sick sick sick. Those kids' only hope is to flee, and fly under a pseudonym on the computer :)

    He lost those kids years and years and years ago, probably in the midst of some horrid "training session" when the tots were 2.

    1. My father still spies on me via social media, ez pass, and by finances, as he did us the "favor" of taking out our mortgage to get us lower interest. Recently when we were 2 weeks late with *part of the rent (paid 70% of it on time) he launched into a tirade and accused my husband and I of having spent all of our rent money at a concert. Even told my aunt we'd payed nothing. Real reason we were late- I'd started a new job and my first check was delayed. Husband got layed off with no notice during same time, took 3 weeks to get unemployment money. I'm 40 and married. Before you ask what's up with no savings at age 40. I just completed a career change and obtained my masters degree. i wish we'd never entered into this "rent" agreement. I wanted my own house. The ez pass was sadistic "false help" as well. He gave it to me a few years ago, then when I moved to an area next to a major toll road, started chastising me every time I have a very small toll. Now, normally everyone prefers the non toll roads, but sometimes they're backed up and you need to be somewhere so need to jump on the turnpike. Then you realize you have that darn ez pass in the car. You're supposed to drive all the way home and get rid of it then? I did since remove it from the car but why put an ez pass in someone's car then yell at them for using it. I'm talking like maybe 2-5$ in tolls a month. Not excessive use.

  2. Jill. I agree with you 100%. I was listening to KS95, Twin Cities, Morning Show where the hosts asked the listening audience if they spied on their kids. The majority, actually ALL, the respondents said they did, meaning, they watched Facebook and such to catch any weird patterns. I see a clear difference between attempting to keep your kids safe and religious based control. I'm writing about the latter here, of course.

    Thanks for your insight.

  3. As young of a parent as I am, the fact remains that I am a parent. I have a mother who cannot acknowledge that very fact and move on. I'm actually still the child, in her eyes, who needs such monitoring.

    As a dad, who wants nothing of that for my own children - her grandchildren - I have managed to thwart her conniving, condescending, "motherly"-worried comments and messages with short and sweet rebuttals.

    Let the parent do their monitoring; do everything that you normally would, and at all costs, be a rebel for the cause!

  4. I agree that parents should monitor their child's internet usage, to a point...for SURE not hacking into their private accounts unless trust has been breached, and even then, it needs to be an honest thing.

    But adult "children"? HELL to the NO. There comes a point where they need to LET THEIR KIDS GO and learn from their own mistakes, internet and real-world both!

  5. Oh, and just one other small point that I just HAVE to put in here: whether your children make mistakes in their youth or in their adulthood has NOTHING to do with whether you raised them appropriately or with the right amount of boundaries/restrictions/etc.

    Parents cannot control. I don't care how much of a lock-down a child of 10 or a "child" of 20 is placed under, they WILL find some way to make their own mistakes. That's part of life -- part of the REAL WORLD!

    So when your children are grown, out in the real world, looking to marry/buy a house/start into the professional world, their mistakes are their own. Not yours, not your raising or training going south. It's them now. You sowed the seeds of wisdom, love, and the truth of God. Now for the love of Peter and Paul, let them grow!!!!

  6. Well said. I'll come to you for parenting advice in the future. Much appreciated.

  7. Experience is the best teacher. Dealing with a situation of my own currently where my husband and I are still being "parented" and being told that "we weren't raised well enough" because we aren't making the "right" decisions.

    Not an expert by any means. Just speaking from my own weeping heart.

  8. Regardless. Keep it coming. I'd rather get my advice from real people than purported experts. It is they who have brought most of us to our current condition, anyway.

  9. Being the oldest of 11 here I have a few things to say.

    Up to my parents becoming Christians, I had a somewhat easy life at 10ish, per se. I had friends that I spent time with, hung out with, etc.

    Then my parents became Christians and started home-schooling. At this time there were 7 of us.

    We slowly got indoctrinated (really, they got told it was "God's design" and turned it around on us) to believe "Children should honor (by obeying) your parents". "First time Obedience", "Blood is thicker than water" (no friends really now. Moved a few times and being home-schooled left that part out), guilt trips (You will lose God's blessing. Is this what God wants?), "Ask your father, he is the home's head" (This is also being severely whip-lashed from coming from matriarchal home. Dad was content to let mom run the place.) etc.

    When I finally got a job at 16, with one of my only friends (and a good one at that!), he would constantly be doing something and asking me to come along. My excuse was "I have chores and I need to ask Mom" which usually meant I didn't go (Mom said no...). All the way until I started paying rent at 19.

    I bought a 1948 Farmall H on ebay, sight unseen, for a project. My parents gave their blessing for this. Now I got it running, acquired a John Deere 14T baler (smallest one ever made to be run behind a tractor. Just perfect for this one.) and helped to bale our farms hay so dad didn't have to hire out for it. Anyways, a guy who helped us in this farming endeavor broke his baler when we tried to bale another farmers field. So he asked me to get my tractor and baler. I took my tractor home, got her hooked up, ran in to tell dad, mom yelling at me to stop and talk about something, and off I went with my dad behind me with his flashers going. Now I was 17 at this time. There was a really short section of main highway I had to drive to get to the house. Like 500ft worth. I pull out, dad right behind me and get the tractor in road gear, 15mph TOPS. This place had 2 drives about 100ft apart. I push the clutch in at the 1st drive to start slowing down and look over my shoulder to see if anyone was trying to pass. there was a car coming over a small hill about 300ft behind. So I thought they would slow down enough. Long story short-ish, he tried passing and I took out his bumper. Shaken but I got the work done. I got home and had a very quiet supper as mom was PISSED. Literally slamming things around as the farms insurance was "at stake". You know what was said to me later when I started going to bed? "Jon, you know you could have met Jesus today?" Me, about all that I had bout now, screamed "Yeah! Why are you mad?!?!?! Do you now hate me for costing you a bit more on your insurance instead of dying?" Cooly she replied "Well, if you stopped and got your dads blessing, none of this would have happened." I stormed out of there pissed.

    From then on, my farm chores I refused to do and then I started paying rent when I wouldn't even help bale and put away hay. I was work 10hr shifts and hanging out with a couple friends. I needed to get up at 2:30 AM for work Tues-Fri, and spent my weekends as much away as I could. Since I wasn't helping the farm, I could pay rent. $100/month guaranteed my freedom.

    I would have gladly paid $300.

  10. Comment from Permission To Live. You can find her blog at

    I was one of those monitored kids. My dad did not allow any of his children to be online at all, much less be on Facebook or MySpace etc.

    At 19 years old I was allowed to get my first email address for job purposes, but it was fully accessible to my dad, who read every single email that came through it. Pretty hard to trust your parents in that environment. I did not have privacy until I got married at 20 years old.

    Another point: Although I was the "obedient" oldest child, and just wanted to please my parents in everything (didn't realize that was impossible) My dads obsessive control did not prevent my siblings from getting secret Facebook and email accounts. The fact is, you cannot control your adult/teenage children, you can only influence them.

  11. The sad thing is that this P/QF/CAD movement purports that they have such "godly" kids. If they're so freaking "godly" then why do men have to control everything, even down to their children's and wife's (wives'?...hehe) thoughts.

    Funny thing is, those who disagree with this stupid movement mostly allow their children the freedom to listen to God by themselves and act on it.

    Who's happier? Not even close. Oh sure, they'll swear that they're happy, but it isn't hard to train the mind that a new norm is the norm. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is the unquestionable worship of man.

    I can't handle being in that movement for a very small reason. I'm not perfect. And I cannot live the lie every second of every day that I am. My kids continually remind me of that and I am very grateful for it. The damage I would cause them if my faults were covered up with "I am your freakin' dad so shut-up!" would be irreparable, in my opinion.

    I see it all the time.

  12. IC,

    I made a good friend from reading a post dealing with this at Quivering Daughters. The gist of the post was how all this control teaches one lesson very well- the necessity and successful application of secrecy and deception.

    This adult daughter was posting under a pseudonym. When her father found out, she had to get a new blog under a new name, and finally, she left under a blanket of secrecy and a year later she has still not told them where she lives. The location of her home (hundreds of miles away) is too sacred to trust with people who have shown no respect for her as person.

    I have a teenager at home still. I occasionally look at his text messages, but only in front of him and with his permission- mostly cuz I'm friends with a lot of his friends. Other than that, he has a phone and a laptop and I am quite sure I don't know all the trouble he might possibly have come close to or will in the future investigate- but I do expect he'll come out okay in the end.

  13. That is so tough. I completely kicked my mother out of my life a few months ago. She never learned to see her adult children as independent entities. We will forever need her "loving" (yeah, whatever) wing to hide under, according to her.

    Thanks for sharing and for reading.

  14. My 17 yo brother is dealing with this right now. He has challenged my parents' beliefs on issues like dating and in his career choice and they have responded with emotional manipulation. And he's nervous about them hacking his stuff on the internet. I didn't think he was, until he asked me the other day "did mom get on my facebook account?" Poor guy. He should NOT have to worry about that!

    I'm pretty sure my parents haven't actually done any of that - yet. And let me tell you, if they do, there will be hell, because he won't stand for it. He's not brainwashed in the least at this point, although I can't for the life of me figure out why (fifteen yo sister, for example, is planning to be a stay at home mom because that's all women should be, and god forbid anyone wear a swimsuit that doesn't look like a burka). Anyway, if my parents try that, I have no doubt that he will leave.

    My view: breaking into your adult children's accounts is NEVER okay without permission. Period. If you think they're doing something illegal and they're not being open with you, you have way bigger problems.

    My daughter will have the freedom I never got. Trust is incredibly important.

  15. Liberty. I agree. Right now, my kids care more about Looney Tunes than anything else. Their current social media is to befriend every kid in town.

    Just the other night, at 11PM, my bride and I walked into our oldest son's bedroom (he is 6) and he was laying at the foot of his bed, staring at the wall with a dreamy look plastered on his face.

    We asked him what was up and he said that he wanted to have a play date the next morning, but NOT WITH CHARLIE! So, we asked him who he wanted to do it with and he told us that he got every one of his classmate's (kindergarten) phone numbers in a notebook but he didn't know where the notebook was.

    So, we told him we would find the notebook the next day and he declared loudly that he needed to rip out the numbers list page and keep it in a safe spot.

    I walked away on cloud nine, floating down the 35 foot hallway to our bedroom. I ramble on about this because I was never allowed to have any friends outside of other patriarchy families (yes....families...not kids my age) AND WE WERE PUBLIC SCHOOLED!!! We didn't even know our own neighbors.

    To see my wife's phone filled with mom's numbers from our kid's school and the many many friends the squirts are making is a great joy to me.

    I'm loving life right now and looking forward to the day when they learn about electronic social networking. They may be more creative than their dear old dad.

  16. Also I just realized if your oldest is nine, that means you had six kids in nine years. I was the oldest in my family, and I was nine when baby number six was born. Memories. Life was so much more sweet back then, before the crazy train sped up and my parents drank the rest of the koolaid.

  17. I would do my darndest to hide anything and everything from my overbearing old man. If he ever caught up with me, I would deny, deny, deny. He wouldn’t get a shred of truth out of me. And, if he did happen to beat or squeeze it forth (sadly, a CAD adherer will do this to their “children” of any age…I know…I’m living proof), I would learn my lesson so well that it would take Houdini and six of his relatives to even catch a scent of what I was continuing to cook. It’s that simple.

    That's what I did. Not that my parents snooped using my passwords, but like they did require all my facebook friends to be friends with my mom, and they always wanted to know who I was talking to online. (I was 18+, by the way.)

    At age 20 or 21, my dad told me not to talk to boys online. I had some really great guy friends, and instead of getting rid of them, I hid them, lied about them, denied everything. I'm not proud of the fact that I did that; I'm extremely angry that in order to keep my friends I had to do that.

    Same with my secret relationship with my now-husband.

  18. Anne. I'd let it go. BE PROUD of the fact that you got through the control and came out on the other side in one piece, no matter how burnt out and broken that one piece might have been. The system lives on your guilt ("I'm not proud of the fact that I did that...") as validating your rebellion and their way of life as the ONLY righteous way of life.

    You are ALMOST free. *waves his hand. Your sins are absolved. Mwahahahaha!

    Seriously though, no need to feel guilty. As I tell my children, if a man kidnaps you and one of your siblings and says he'll kill your other sibling if you don't tell him something that you know is a lie, you better tell him that something to save your sibling's life.

    There are times in life when lying is absolutely necessary and noble. I am convinced you found one of them.

  19. Thanks, IC! You're right. I feel much better. ;)

  20. Wow! I'm going to wave my hand of absolution more often!

  21. "I want to be waiting to lick the wounds of my children if they ever come crawling back home. I want them to want to come to me for my advice. Not out of expectation, but because I’m an insecure loser of a father and I am easily flattered. They don’t even need to need it. Just fake it once in a while. But most importantly, I want to have taught them all the foundational lessons that I think they’ll need when they jump from the nest and fly away..."

    So exactly what I believe-I appreciate your honesty too- the thing is, (though I disagree with a lot of their methods and they made their mistakes) my parents were pretty good parents until I became an adult- then it was like they didn't know I was meant to leave! I want my kids to WANT to come home, not have to fend me off all the time because I don't have a life of my own.

    My parents made their kids their world, but both their kids- my brother and I- decided to marry people they initially didn't approve of, and my parents felt they had the right to tell adults of over 25 years of age who we should marry. That was helpful for family relations, let me tell you.

    Thankfully we've all gotten over it, but it took me setting some pretty tough boundaries with them to make them understand I have flown the nest for good. They are NOT permitted to come between me and my hubby or son, and if anything ever happened between me and my hubby, they are NOT the people I'd come crawling back to- there is no "back" in THAT case, I'm an adult, there's only my life lived forwards.

    What's sad is that I should WANT to spend time with them, and be free to go back home. I sure hope I can learn from their smothering and let go of my kid and respect his boundaries as he grows up to fly the nest. That's the goal of parenting- letting them go, and BEING there so they can come back- to visit, to enjoy each other, but not to stay. It can really hurt you when your parents won't let you grow up.