AS parents, the last thing that you want to do is violate your children's trust. However, your first priority is always to protect them. And while you want to trust them, ensuring their safety sometimes requires snooping into their belongings.
What has your child been up to? Below some parents share the worst thing they discovered when they snooped on their children.
Allison, 47, seamstress:
I was working on some pieces for my customers and I decided I needed a break. I love reading and that is all my daughter does; she has a mini library in her room. I decided to go in search of one of her new interests and I stumbled on porn-type romance books. I was devastated. At the time she was only 13-plus.
Nadine, 42, consultant:
I went on my then 14-year-old son's computer while he was at school to make sure that he wasn't communicating with people who were dangerous, too much older, or was generally getting involved in anything that I didn't approve of. I realised my worst fears — he was not only smoking, but he was also using weed (ganja) and he had become involved with a group of boys who were known to be involved in illicit activities. I had to send him to live with his father for a while, and to camps in-between to help straighten him out. Two years later he is much more responsible.
Kenrick, 47, truck driver:
I went into my youngest child's phone (she was about 15 or 16) about two years ago and found out that the “mother” of the friend who had recently had a party was actually the older sister of her boyfriend who was having the party. I don't know what happened and she insists nothing did. One other thing that really got to me was some stories of sexual adventures. She said that she had written them based on some books her friends had lent her. I made her mom handle that part of it, but you can imagine how I felt because she was my baby daughter.
Lisa, 38, teacher:
I found close to nude pictures of my 15-year-old daughter on her phone and on a further search of her room, lingerie-type undergarments. While I had no proof she sent or intended to share them with anyone, I was mortified. I was in shock for several days and while I deleted those and spoke to her strongly about the possible repercussions of sharing them, I was scared she was going to do it again, she would share it, and it would end up in the wrong hands. As for the undergarments, her best friend who had travelled to the States the summer before said she has gifted her them. I told her neither of them was ready for that type of clothing.
S, 35, stay-at-home mom:
My first daughter, from as long as I can remember, always had a tendency to get into trouble and so I always had to keep a keen eye on her. We always tried to provide her with all that she wants because we take care of all her needs. I was sorting through her stuff one day, you know the whole spring cleaning, and found expensive jewellery under her mattress that we didn't give her and no other family member had. It turns out she stole them when she went for sleepovers. I returned them to the parents and I got her counselling, but our relationship is a little strained because she said I embarrassed her even though the women did not tell their daughters what she had done.
Christopher, 54, insurance agent/business owner:
My son was acting out at school and I took his phone as a punishment. Three nights later I decided one night after work to scroll through the phone. It turns out I never did know him and my 15-year-old son was biting off more than he could chew. From boasting how he could get my licensed firearm if he needed it, to sex videos of him with as many as three girls, to notes in his phone with passwords for his mother's and my debit cards... He was also lying about attending extra classes and using our money for projects. The money was to fund “braffing” and he lied about classes to get extra time with friends on weekends.