Photo credit: CC user Anna Salvatore
As a parent, it’s natural to be curious about what’s going on in your child’s life – especially what they’re up to when you’re not around. Sometimes this curiosity leads to some unorthodox ways of finding things out – like ‘stumbling upon their journals’ while cleaning their room or ‘accidentally’ browsing through their Facebook page when it’s left open on their computer desktop.
Think about it: how many television shows have had an episode where the secretive teen accidentally leaves open their incriminating diary only to have their concerned parent face a moral dilemma when they read it and want to confront their kid? The outcome normally doesn’t go over very well. (Unless it’s Full House – that Danny Tanner always had a way of turning a negative situation into a positive learning experience).
Friendships and secrets are very important during your child’s teen years. They’re experiencing many things for the first time and trying to make sense of it all. They’re exploring and figuring out who they are and what they want to do, and it’s normal for them to want to keep some of these discoveries private – including diary entries, Facebook status updates, and even yearbook messages from their friends.
Your teen’s yearbook is essentially another form of a diary. It’s a place where their close friends and confidants can write, doodle, share inside jokes, and reminisce over everything that has happened during the school year. Entire pages might be devoted to one friend with cryptic messages and references to things you’ve never heard of or can even begin to understand.
But don’t be alarmed. While you’re just as excited to pore over your kid’s finished yearbook as they are, make sure you get their permission before you pick it up and start reading away.
I’ll never forget my own awkward yearbook message conversation with my mom. My best friend and I had made up our own secret code during the school year so our teachers wouldn’t know what we were talking about if we got caught passing notes in class. (I was in high school long before texting or Instagram or Facebook were even a sliver of an idea). We didn’t want to run the risk of our teacher reading who we were crushing on in front of our entire English class (which included said crush), so we spoke to each other in movie quotes.
Pretty harmless stuff looking back on it (and to be honest, reading the messages now, I don’t even know what the heck we were talking about), but my mom’s red flags came up when she stumbled upon a jumbled message referencing Clueless, Heathers, and Dirty Dancing. I think she thought I was going to run off to the valley with a dance instructor who looked like Christian Slater or something. She was also really curious about a particular rager we had gone to (unfortunately that story wasn’t in code).
When she confronted me and wanted to have the “talk,” I was mortified. Thankfully I was able to brush it off and tell her it was just inside jokes about our favorite movies (and not a secret code into the inner workings of our hearts). She left it at that and didn’t ask about it again. I think deep down she knew she had stumbled on something that wasn’t hers to know.
Be honest – have you ever read a message in your child’s yearbook and asked them about it? Did it lead to a healthy discussion or did they get defensive? Feel free to discuss in our comment section.