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Reading your Teenagers Diary – A Violation?

Updated on February 11, 2015

There is a lot going on with Teens these days, you just never know what’s going on inside their minds.

  • Many never confide in friends or family.
  • Some are mingling with the wrong crowd.
  • Some are on the edge of contemplating suicide, sadly some actually go through with it.

A lot of parents try to talk with their Teens and understand them but don’t get anywhere. I haven’t got kids yet, however, I do work with Teens. I am well-informed enough to understand parents frustration and I also work with Teens.

For some, the last resort would be to talk with any siblings, close friends or read their diaries – as this is where many write down their intimate thoughts, but Is this a wise idea?

I did a short Survey and some of the responses that people wrote for me, are below.



Peoples responses to reading a Teens Diary.

a) “No, I wouldn't read my child's diary. If I expect my child to respect me, I must treat her with respect. There are other ways to know what's going on with your teen than to betray trust and violate their private thoughts.”

b) “To be truthful, despite all my noble thoughts, I did read it and wish I hadn't, but hey, I was at the end of my tether and thought that I could find an answer to her increasingly outrageous behaviour.”

c) “As as matter of routine, no. Nor, would I read it out of curiosity. I am a big fan of privacy. However, I am her mother, and I am responsible for her welfare and her actions. If there were any indication that she were in serious trouble, danger, or bringing harm to herself; and the answers might be inside.........yes, I would.

d) “No. That's a dangerous thing in many ways. First, most diaries are a mix of reality and fantasy. Just because she writes something, does not mean she will act on.”

e) Most definitely not, that is her private space for me to read her dairy would violate her on so many levels, just like I would never snoop through her room.”

f) “I would never ever read my teens diary. I would have a very good relationship with my children, and let them see that even as an adult, I can still respect them to the utmost.”

(Thanks to everyone who contributed – above)


Do you share any of the thoughts above or do you have a completely different view?

Thanks for reading.




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    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 4 years ago from London, UK

      @Chukwuka - I also share your view. It's good to treat them like an adult but if they are going off the rails, you definitely need to step in and see where the "extreme behaviour" is coming from.

      Thanks. :-)

    • profile image

      Chukwuka Okwukwe C. 4 years ago

      This is real dicey.

      I'd personally say no. But then, if that child starts acting or talking extreme, I need to go to that extreme to save the day.

      What about you, lady Elena?

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      @Midget - Thanks Michelle for sharing your thoughts - I like your level of trust in Teens and hope they respect you too for it.

      @Deepak - Thanks for sharing your views on such a sensitive issue.

    • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

      Deepak Chaturvedi 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      It is very easy to jump in any conclusion but if the main concern is your teen's future then you give the preference to know her act anyhow over privacy.thanks Lady E.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I wouldn't read it...for the facts that it's her privacy and that there are some things I'm better off not knowing!! I would attempt to address outrageous behavior in other ways...having taught teens before, a basic relationship of trust must be established first! Shared, Lady E.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Lisa - Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry, it was an upsetting one. I hope you forgive your mum though and also hope that with time, any bad/bitter feelings go. Now that she knows how you feel, I doubt she would do it to a younger sibling of yours or advice any other Mother to do so.

      Take Care, Elena.

    • profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago

      My mother read my diary when I was 16, also snooped through my room/trash regularly. She also found letters my boyfriend wrote me and read them. We had a very open and honest, trusting relationship. I was raised in a very strict household (my mother was a teacher in our tiny town in VT, everybody knew everything about everyone in our town), never went to parties, was a straight-A student... went on to college and am now a successful woman in her 40's. BUT, I will NEVER trust my mother and I will never get over the anger of her betrayal. I believe she did what she did because she wanted to be a good parent and was worried I was going too far with my boyfriend, but she should have talked to me about it, not go through my things. Parents should be aware that, if they break this trust, there are consequences for years to come. My heart, 30 years later, is still sad that my mother did that to me. The result was that I've never been completely open or honest with her since. I don't trust her!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Lucas

      I feel for your niece. Your sister in law, reacted to the extreme - getting so many people involved. Sometimes, I think it's best not to mention anything and any concerns can be raised by talking.

      I hope your niece is fine now - emotionally and also hope you keep in touch with her. It's lovely the way you can see things from her point of view. Thanks for sharing this personal story.

      Best Wishes.

    • profile image

      Lucas Naidoo 5 years ago

      My sister-in-law read my 16 year old niece's diary and she was extremely angry, she even got the entire family involved after discovering that my nieces has a boyfriend, she also stated that she would go to the social worker to resolve this matter. Lets take into consideration my brother and sister-in-law had divorced each other some time back and my niece lives just with her mother and little sister (11 years). This child does not have an active father figure and this is can be even more effectivevon the childs mentality. My thoughts: Psychologically the child has found a solution to manusript what's in her mind than just bottle it up. The mother was rude to invade the childs privacy and get some many people involved, now who will the child turn to? This is one of the related suicide cases were the child feels trapped in this world and all doors begin to close on them. The mothers reaction is way too extreme as she will demolish the child self-esteem, the matter is being handled in an unethical manner. Even if the mother read the child diary she needs to evaluate the severity of the case eg. Finding out that her child in pregnant, child is on drugs, child is feeling suicidal etc. Then only can the mother act upon in a much stringent way. Parents need to understand 1 thing, not every child is going to live upto their parents expectations, children have their own minds and dreams which are handled by them NOT ANYONE ELSE. Thank You

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK


      That's so sweet. You have a beautiful relationship with your mum. I love it.

      Thanks for stopping and Good Luck with your studies.

    • profile image

      AngelTeen 5 years ago

      I'm 16, but I really don't care if my mom reads my diary. I just write how I feel in there. But, some teens really don't like it. My mom and I trust each other, and so I let her read my diary. I don't even put a lock on it. I know that what I write doesn't go anywhere else but between us.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks so much Nichole.

      Best Wishes. :)

    • NicholeRLovi profile image

      Nichole Thomas 5 years ago from Illinois

      I totally agree with Person(B). in your hub!! Hands down and good Hub!! vote up

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Mobilemoll

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this issue. It's nice to give Teens some space... or freedom to grow as you wrote. Best Wishes.

    • Mobilemoll profile image

      Mobilemoll 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      To me it's def a violation of trust. My daughter will become a teen in afew weeks and these are the years where teens start to form their own opinions, have their own identities and such. There's alot going on in their minds and as much as my daugter tells me things, I know that there's going to be things she'll feel arkward sharing with me. I have to respect that and allow her ease of mind to express her thoughts in her diary. Heaven forbid she starts showing troubling/dangerous behvior then and only then I'd search through it for answers. As frightening as it is, you have to give your kids some freedom to grow and grant trust

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Adara

      Thanks for sharing your story. Maybe, she was worried about you, Sorry you feel upset. I hope when people read your comments they will see one of the disadvangages. (I think it has both pros and cons)

      Take Care. Enjoy the Easter Hols.

    • profile image

      adara Finch 6 years ago

      i will be 18 in 2 weeks, and my mother went rhough all my handbags and read my diary. her tell of the story was that she was " making my bed, and my bag fell open and a vodka botel roled out n then she knew she had the right to read my diary" for a start i make my own bed everyday, i will be of legal drinking age in 2 weeks, and she knows that teens start drinking at the age of 14 here in australia. to all parents, if you find something in your childs room, just be upfront and ask them about it. dont go snooping looking for more, it will only make your child rebel and hate you. my mother has grounded me for the whole school holidays (3 weeks) and iv been punished in other ways. but did she never stop to think that yes, i disrespcted her trust, but she also disrespected mine, so why isn't she being punished too.?

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for sharing that Entourage-007. I hope as you do, they open up sincerely. :)

    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 6 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      I agree, its a code of respect. You earn respect by showing respect and I think that reading their diary would be a violation of privacy. I would much rather have a heart to heart talk.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      ** Hi Nicole, please feel free to give me the links to those related hubs so I can add it in this hub. ;)

      ** Hello Support Med (I wish I knew your first name) :)

      Thanks for these comments. Reading their diaries has it's advantages - I understand your point.

      Glad you stopped by. x

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, you have to be respectful in order to gain respect. However, as a parent I think you should leave no stone unturned when it comes to your child (or children). Especially if you are having problems with your child and/or they are demonstrating behavioral issues. Really, I do not think it's wrong. Just like I do not think it's wrong to go through their drawers and closets if as a parent you feel like you have to get to the bottom of an issue. Our children, even when they are teens are our responsibility and if something goes wrong parents can be legally liable for it (including fines and jail-time). Parents must do all they can to help their children and be the best parent possible. You don't have to tell them you went through their things or read their diary, but if you do oh well. If the child is having a problem and demonstrating problem behavior, no doubt you have already spoken to your child about it and depending on the situation there may have been many arguments as well. Therefore, I do not think it is a violation. It is a parents' right. If things turned 'legal,' the authorities would definitely question you as a parent as to why you do not know what is going on in your childs life. Although reading their diaries and going through their drawers and closets may not resolve all issues, on the other hand it just may. It lets your child know who the real authority is and there are consequences when they feel they must have their freedom. There is not that much freedom in the world, not even in the United States, so parents, if you feel you need to go there, by all means do so. False freedoms for children and teens can bring on real detrimental consequences for both parent and child, so finding out what is going on in their lives, and then establishing a goal and plan on how to improve the childs life as well as your own as a parent is absolutely necessary and warranted. I respect the thoughts of those who feel it is a violation, but a parent has to do what a parent has to do. Bottom line. I know parents who after going through their childrens things found out their children were involved in things that could have gotten them in serious trouble and may even hinder them in becoming an honest and responsible and respectable adult, with the ability, intelligence and self-discipline to be socially acceptable in society and not a menace to it, or a victim to it.

    • Cathyrin profile image

      Cathyrin 6 years ago from Philippines

      I believe that if you want to gain respect, then you must also respect others, since respect is not mandated but earned. It is also the same with parent-teen relationship. The privacy of an individual especially the teens is a need. This is a sense of freedom and independence for them. Reading their diary is just like taking away their freedom and bringing them in chains.

    • profile image

      Kelly EHB 6 years ago

      I'm curious what your readers would think of reading what has become the equivalent of kids' online diaries - their Facebook pages! One article dealing with this issue can be found at:

      Thanks for the great site and posts!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Wow.. very indepth comments. Thanks so much dear readers for commenting and sharing your personal experiences. The points you make are interesting and I am also learning a few tips for when I become a Parent.

      Best wishes to you all.


    • tysanders profile image

      tysanders 6 years ago from Atlanta, Ga

      This is a good question. I don't have children yet but when I was a teen my mother snooped through my things and even confronted me about several of her findings. I think I was more embarrassed than I was angry. In our home the rules made by our parents were law and not to be argued. If you want your privacy you can have it once you grow up and get your own house. Knowing my mother was a snoop kept me from making a lot of bad decisions.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      As a teen I kept a diary and it was a mix of what happened at school and what i would like to have had happened. More of a story and I think parents who read such a story may not get the true picture.

      I don't think I would read my son's diary if he chose to keep one (he's five right now and tells me everything)

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I'm sorry this comment is so long:

      I wrote a couple of hubs that touch on these very sensitive subjects: one on internet safety for kids, and another on teen dating... I agree with many of the parents / teens who've said that they had no reason to read / no reason not to talk to their folks...


      I'm a firm advocate for parents. It is our job as parents to steer our children in the direction that is best for them. In that vein, yes, I believe in reading your child's journal. However, once you have read it, the real challenge is to take the information gleaned there and put it to productive use.

      At my daughter's age, I straight out ask if I may read her journal. She let's me and we talk about things in a very non confrontational manner. She's eight. I'm very lucky at this point that she's an open trusting child who shares everything with me. The teenage years won't be so fantastic.

      I *need* to know, if my daughter is having sex, experimenting with drugs or hanging around with the wrong crowd. I think it's a little naïve to say that by raising your children right none of these things will happen. The best way to ensure I *know* what's going on in her life is to talk to her every day, the second best: read her journal.

      I don't think there is any shame in this as long as you're supportive, non accusatory and firm with your kids.

    • profile image

      Jess 6 years ago

      My mother never read my diary and she never searched my room. She also made sure I understood at a young age that if I needed to talk to her without worrying about getting grounded, I could. When I was in high school she told me that she knew I would go to parties, that there would be alcohol and possibly drugs. She told me to use my best interest, and if I ever needed to call her in the middle of the night because I did not feel safe I could.

      She fostered a trust that most parents do not take the time to create, and because of this I had nothing to hide or to rebel against.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image

      DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Unfortunately yes, I've found myself in the horrible position where I felt like I was forced to read my daughter's diary. Thank God I did is all I can say, because it helped me at times steer her toward a better alternative. What if your child is having sex and they won't tell you and they end up pregnant? I'm all for privacy, but children still need to be under parents' control. There are so many parents that are just not aware of what is in their chldren's in point, the Arizona shootings.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      My mom read my diary when I was growing up. She also fished notes out of my garbage can and read those. I felt like I had no private life! Then again, she also found the cigarettes I hid in my bookcase and thankfully never smoked them because I was grounded so badly!

      When my oldest son was struggling a few years ago, I got him a private book in which he could write his thoughts down. I would never violate that trust. I hope that I am in tune enough as a parent not to have to cross that line.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I still remember when a roommate read my journal as an adult, I have never gotten over it and to this day I don't completely trust that person. A journal should be kept private.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When I was a teen my step-mother read through my diary and I was horrified. I believe in privacy but on the other hand I think if you have any inkling that your child is in danger or doing something illegal then you may want to cross the line and read their diary.

    • Treasuresofheaven profile image

      Sima Ballinger 6 years ago from Michigan

      Parents need to do whatever is necessary to help their children! Some kids do not know how to express themselves to their parents.

      I have heard of situations when kids were in trouble and it was later discovered that the kid did not know how to tell their sad.

      I think the main thing we should do as parents, guardians, keep the lines of communication open.

      As challenged as our kids are these days in America: Getting involved in illegal activities like Sex, Drugs, Crime and the like we have a right to look in Diaries, Drawers, Purses, Backpacks, etc.

      Haven't we heard the news - a child takes a gun to school; a child takes a knife to school.

      The list goes on LadyE. Thanks for bring this concern up! I do have children.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Every individual is distinct and different. Protection of privacy is a respect to self. It is not wise that Parents should indulge in the teenager’s privacy. It may be other means to win the heart and to know the secrets.

    • Jane@CM profile image

      Jane@CM 6 years ago

      My mother read my diary - I'm sure it pissed off even more than she already was at me, because I needed that journal to write my thoughts down about here as I had no one else to talk to.

      I would never read my teen's journals or diary's, just as I do not expect them to read mine. I'm lucky that both of my kids sit down and talk to me when they need to and want to. jane@cm

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Neverletitgo 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Discussing and giving advice is something you bridge the gap between you and your teen kid but getting their privacy and reading their diary is not good idea. Let them have their privacy and be friendly parent that is smart way that your teen can trust you. Thanks Elena.


    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks everyone for the recent comments.

      It's nice to read different views.



    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 6 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      A good job on a rather delicate issue that always floats in each parent's mind. Reminds us how taxing parenting can be. Teenage kids value privacy. I believe in striking an intimacy with them that will make em confide in me in most issues. We have to respect boundaries though.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a really good thought provoking topic, I would respect their right to privacy.I would think,do i want them to read mine and the answer is "NO" I never had a daughter, so perhaps I would feel different if i did.


    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 6 years ago

      I raised 3 teenagers and when behavior warranted I read the diary. There were at times dangerous issues that were necessary to address. I have no regrets about it whatsoever. I did not do this unless red flags were going up in other areas. I don't think its right to read just to be snoopy.

      This went for room searches as well. I informed them that if they wanted that kind of privacy they would have to go rent an apartment or buy their own home. Until then I maintained the rights to my own home as to what was taking place in it. Again I did not search their room randomly or without cause but when issues of self destructive and harmful behaviors arose the privacy ended. These kinds of issues grow and fester in the dark and need to be exposed.

      Privacy in my home was an earned privilege similar to trust. It is not just dispensed as an entitlement. it is given through trusted behavior.

      They are now all grown up and doing well and I wouldn't change how I handled that.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Sons don't keep diaries but If they would I couldn't be bothered because what I don't know I don't need to worry about. I also respect their privacy.

    • Becky Puetz profile image

      Becky 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I believe in respecting my teens privacy to a certain extent, but I can tell you that if they were deeply upset, disturbed or troubled about something and not talking about the issue or if I suspected for one moment that they were contemplating suicide; I wouldn't hesitate to look anywhere I could for a clue to the problem, including but not limited to their diary. We just lost a beautiful young man, a friend of my granddaughters and mine, 17 years old to suicide. His last entry on his MySpace was to his girlfriend that stated "I'll love you til the day I die" they had been having problems and had "broke up" that afternoon. What an awful waste. My heart is broken. Yes, I would read the diary, talk and talk and talk, listen and listen. Check their myspace and facebook post. Advise but never judge.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      I think paretns have that right, esp. if they suspect their child is engaging in destructive behavior. I remember as a teen, my mom snooped in my drawer where I kept some of my notes from my best friend. I got into huge trouble and of course I was very angry and of course I got over it! As a parent, I would do the same - we're to be parents of our child, not their best friend.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks so much everyone - for sharing your views on this sensitive issue.

      Best Wishes


    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      A person's privacy is a sacred thing and to sneak behind their back and invade their privacy is unlawful and immoral. It is like opening their mail or as recently was discovered, even their private E-Mail which is now protected by law.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      I have never read any of my children's diaries, and I think as was stated in your hub that it could cause so many problems because I'm sure thatr some written thoughts in my children's diaries would have shocked me but so many of these are fantasy and we are not supposed to impose on their innermost thoughts. To gain trust and respect we must also show these traits ourselves.

      However I can understand some being tempted especially if there's worrying behaviour being shown but I think we should stay strong and not give in to temptation.

      A great thought provoking hub.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      I agree--it wouldn't be right and further more, we could lose our credibility as adults.

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

      We do honor privacy and freedom. But teens are not adults. We are responsible what they do and what they think. Some people have goofy ideas of freedom: freedom without responsibility.

      Those who defend freedom of young people then we see what troubles we have with majority. I do not say read diary or not. But Bible (Jesus) said if ox fall into the well are you breaking Sabbath just for sake to keep the law? This is about life.

      We are leading nation of having troubled kids.

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 6 years ago

      It is a violation. Teenagers are also individuals who deserve their own privacy. I think it would be better to talk with the child and let him or her open up to you wholeheartedly.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      The respect for to obtain respect rings true,though in my dark museings,a person has want to be,no,no,respect must outshine.;)