Do Teens Have a Right to Privacy From Their Parents? Part 2

In the previous post, I made it clear that the Bible encourages transparency rather than privacy.  I also explained that teens must remember that God gave them parents for the purpose of shepherding them and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  As a result, a teen should welcome his or her parents’ involvement.

It could be argued, however, that I have made the rules too rigid.  After all, parents involvement decreases significantly as their children hit 18 (and thus have the legal right to make many responsibilities) and as they leave the home to pursue education, work, or military service.  Shouldn’t parents prepare their teens for such freedom?  Doesn’t this situation suggest that we should give our teens more privacy?

I believe there are at least three points to help everyone answer these questions.

Point #1:  Christ must be given first place.

Col 1:18 explains that Christ is to have first place in everything.  I find that this little phrase helps me put life in perspective.  Everything I do, everything I say, everything I think, and everything I want needs to give Jesus first place.  So parents have to check their motives about this subject (and all others) and teens need to check their motives.  If Jesus is not at the center of these thoughts and discussions, then it should not be a surprise why they can be challenging. So let me encourage you, if you are struggling with this issue in your home, please run to the cross first.  Ask the Lord to help you desire him above all else.  Ask that Lord Jesus would be seen clearly in your life.  Then, please remember this next point.

Point #2:  Freedom is not the same thing as privacy.

I get it.  Many parents are concerned that if they shelter their children too much, their teens will not be prepared to handle the pressures associated with college, the military, or the workforce. Some of these fears come from knowing other seemingly outstanding Christians who practically gave up their faith after leaving home.  However, before we run to statistics or before we run to secular advice on this subject, let us consider yet another important point.

This article argues against privacy, but privacy is not the same thing as freedom.  We may, for example, allow our teens to go places we might wish they did not, we might have to deal with failures that we wish they would have avoided, and we might have to accept the fact that they like things that we do not, however, this does not mean that what they do is private.  We are raising our children to leave (Gen 2:24).  So, wise parents will grant more freedom as their teen ages.  However, with freedom comes responsibility and part of that responsibility is transparency. So, we might not prevent the fact that our teen takes the car and makes some foolish choices.  However, we can hold our teen, and should, responsible for the actions that he took.  That is freedom with transparency.

We all wish there was a simple formula for raising teens to love Jesus – there is not.  However, parents will exercise due diligence if they wise in giving their teens freedom and equally wise by encouraging transparency.

Point #3:  Transparency and accountability is not limited to parent-teen relationship.

We know that parents are raising children to leave, but the theological concept of transparency is not limited to the parent-teen relationship.  First John 1 is not restricted to parents.  In the church, we have leaders (deacons, elders) who lead us, who shepherd us, who care for us, and who loving lead us back to Jesus.  Teens that have learned to be transparent and accountable to their parents will be in the best possible position to be transparent and accountable to their church leaders as well.

Biblical Christianity was never meant to be lived in a bubble; it is lived in community (see Eph 2).  While transparency may not mean that we have to share every thought (thankfully!), it does mean that others know how we are doing spiritually.

By God’s grace, and by putting Jesus first, parents and teens can develop a godly relationship that fosters spiritual growth and preparation for the adult life.

If you have practical advice on how you have developed a godly transparency with your teen, we would love to hear from you.

Rob Green
Pastor Rob Green oversees Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. A seasoned counselor, Rob also teaches others how to counsel--through FBCM's training conferences and Faith Bible Seminary's MABC program.