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Is It Okay to Snoop on Your Kids?

Journal/Bookbag/Room What the Experts Say
mother snooping through backpack
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Tom Nick Cocotos

There's a huge temptation to look at journals, rifle through backpacks, or snoop in kids' rooms for the inside story. But the pros say resist. "Going through kids' things is impolite, offensive, and could seriously damage your credibility if they found out," warns LeBow. And it probably won't ease your mind anyway. In fact, reading the musings of a moody teenager may cause you unnecessary worry.

What Parents Do

While almost every parent is in theory against reading private materials, when it comes right down to it, several moms I talked to have done it. "When my daughter minimizes a diary entry on the computer, I sometimes justify looking at it because, well, it's right there on the screen," says a mom of two from upstate New York. "But I don't think it's a good thing to do and I'm not proud of it."

The Verdict

Unless you see evidence of trouble -- drug paraphernalia or sneaky food behaviors that could mean an eating disorder -- don't even think about it. Instead, look for aboveboard ways to get the 411. Anything you learn from a diary could probably be teased out with honest conversation.