Parenting Conundrums: When is it okay to spy on my teen?

When is it okay to spy on your teenager? Well, let's talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My
name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping
kids, teens, and families to live happier lives. I lead two organizations, Teen Therapy Center
and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills,
California. it. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting
questions. Let's answer today's. My daughter is 16. I try not to be too nosy, but sometimes it
just drives me crazy that she doesn't tell us more about what's going on in her life. She said
she doesn't want us to go in her room ever. I don't think she's doing drugs or anything, but I feel
like it's suspicious. She's definitely become more independent and distant from us recently,
And I'm not comfortable with it. I could go into her phone and check her messages, but I'm worried
I'm going to cross a line. I can't return from

any advice Yes initially your intuition about Crossing a line that you can't uncross I think
you should pay attention to that because if you do go into her phone without her knowing And you
come across things that make you uncomfortable But now you can't talk to her about it because
if you do you have to tell her how you betrayed her trust now get a sit with this thing and you're
gonna get more and more resentful that she's not sharing with you and you're gonna pick fights
with her. It's all gonna be unconscious. It's not gonna go well. I think what you want to focus
on instead of going through her phone or going through her room is focusing on first is she acting
suspiciously outside of pushing away which is a normal part of adolescence. All teenagers
do this. This is normal. If they didn't do this they'd never leave the house, right? But, you
know, is she approaching school with a reasonable amount of effort? Does she have social engagement,
creative engagement, physical engagement in

her life? You know, is she doing okay? Then maybe just trust that she is doing okay. You don't
suspect that she's doing drugs. You don't suspect that she's getting into trouble somewhere.
You just kind of want to be more involved in her life, and she's wanting to push away and be more
independent. And maybe, maybe, because I don't know the details of her independence, maybe
she's developing a healthy sense of independence in her life. That's going to help her launch
into her post -high school life. So it's really important that you find ways to connect with
her without violating that trust. Whether it's saying, hey, let's go get boba together or,
you know, whatever that is. It doesn't have to be exciting or thrilling. And this is not the time
where you start interrogating her about her life. Probably don't talk to her about her life
at all. Talk about current events, music, TV shows, things that are less, feel less vulnerable,
less intrusive in her life. And that is the way I think you're

going to invite her to be back in your life. Now, is she going to show you everything in life? Maybe
not. But I have a question. Do you share everything with your parents? Maybe, maybe not. I don't
know. At 16, did you? I don't know. Everyone's a little different. But it's important that we
give some trust. Now, here's the problem, because parents think, and all of us do this to one
extent or another, is we go to the worst case scenario almost all the time. When we're uncomfortable,
when we're uncertain, we go to that worst place scenario. So your child is 10 minutes late from
curfew, and you automatically go, she's dead, she's been kidnapped, she's been trafficked,
she's lying in a gutter somewhere, which is, I guess these are possibilities. I have to acknowledge
those are possibilities, but very minute possibilities. The more likely possibility is she
lost track of time and she's running late, which is probably generally the answer. And so I think
if we can balance our own anxieties and

not put her responsible for assuaging our anxieties, but we are dealing with our anxieties,
I think it helps us be a more present parent and a more flexible parent in meeting our kids needs
and finding ways to connect with them. I'm not giving you easy advice to follow. I don't want
to acknowledge that. So if you need support with this, reach out, get support, get help. There's
plenty of books about this. There's therapists, you know, talk to your sister, your brother,
your friends, whoever that is. Make sure you're not going through this alone because this is
not an uncommon struggle for parents. But I think the more support you get, the more parents
are able to ride this out and have a little more context perspective. Anyways, that's our question
for today. Thank you so much for your questions. If you'd like me to answer your questions here
on Tips on Teens, email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com, or you can direct message
us right here on Facebook. We love your questions.

Thank you so much. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen
Counseling, and I'll see you guys next week at noon. Bye bye.


As parents, we all want to ensure the well-being and success of our teenagers. However, a challenge of parenting is striking the right balance between respecting their privacy and staying involved in their lives. When it comes to monitoring your teenager’s activities, it is crucial to consider certain factors. Are they still putting in reasonable effort in school? Are they maintaining social connections? Are they engaging in creative and physical activities? 


It’s natural for teenagers to push away and seek independence. If you have no reason to suspect any harmful behaviors such as drug use or getting into trouble, it may be best to trust that they are doing okay. It is essential to find ways to connect with your teenager without breaching their trust, as developing a healthy sense of independence is vital for their future.

Parenting is hard! Respecting your teen’s privacy is a hard line to walk, and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“My daughter is 16. I try not to be too nosy, but sometimes it just drives me crazy that she doesn’t tell us more about what’s going on in her life. She said she doesn’t want us to go in her room ever. I don’t think she’s doing drugs or anything, but I feel like it’s suspicious. She’s definitely become more independent and distant from us recently, and I’m really not comfortable with it. I could go into her phone and check her messages, but I’m worried I’m going to cross a line I can’t return from. Any advice?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.