Stay Out of Teen’s Personal Journal

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Q: My aloof fifteen year old son carries around a personal journal he is constantly doodling and writing in. Lately, it has been like pulling teeth to get him to talk to us about anything. My husband and I have tried to establish a more communicative relationship with him. Last weekend, he went out with some friends and attended what he called a "dance" but we suspect was more like one of these raves you hear kids talk about. This worries us, we don’t know the kids that hang out there and I hear there are drugs that get used. I know it’s not a great idea, but I think it may be justified given the circumstances to sneak a peak at his journal and see what this is about. Is it so wrong to do that? My husband thinks it is. What do you think?

A.L. Delta, B.C.

Teresa and Saleema: We agree with your husband. Although, you may indeed get more information out of the journal than your son, (at times it seems like verbal expression in fifteen year old boys is rigidly limited to " no; it was OK; fine; I don’t know," or worse only short grunts) reading his personal journal is a invasion of his privacy and will most likely be seen by him as a huge violation and betrayal. Besides getting some information, what you will also establish is greater disconnection between you. We are curious what you have tried in attempt to foster more open communication. Have you tried just spending time together doing something the three of you enjoy? What about regular time put aside where the three of you always sit down together, like at dinner time. If you are worried about the possibility of him attending raves, ask him directly and voice your concerns about them specifically. Don’t forget to let him respond with equal air time. Your worries regarding who your son hangs out with and the drugs are valid. Peers are powerfully influential at this age. You would be wise to be familiar with his friends and their families. From what we hear, the most common drug floating around raves these days is ecstasy, otherwise known as E. Keep a look out for small white pills.