Dealing With Parent/Child Personal Space

By Mindie Barnett

Author and motivational speaker Mindie Barnett answers your questions about life, navigating these stressful and uncertain times, while steering you down a more straightforward path.
We welcome your questions and invite you to reach out to Mindie at mindiesmusings1@gmail.com

Dear Mindie,

I have a dilemma. My teenage daughter has been struggling with her friend group recently. They are a friendly group of girls, but she always has trouble with one friend in the bunch. This girl is not a bully, nor is she a “mean girl,” but she tends to get very tense if my daughter texts her back in a way that can be confusing or doesn’t reply to her fast enough. I often see that my daughter may have ten unanswered text messages from this girl within a matter of minutes, which makes me inclined to reply on my daughter’s behalf. I haven’t done that yet, but would that be the worst thing to do? On the other hand, I think having a breadth of knowledge and life experience may help cut the confusion if I were to create a text reply which is thoughtful and clearer. Can you help me?


Dear Wordsmith, 

I understand your predicament. I, too, have a teenage daughter, and so many issues come up which leave me dumbfounded, not to mention the obstacles technology brings to the proverbial table! That said, I strongly advise you to walk away from your daughter’s device. One of the worst things we as parents can do is to cross over that often-blurred line of parent/child personal space. However, giving your daughter the autonomy to make mistakes on technology or otherwise and learn from them will do much more to serve her overall. We all grow from life’s good and bad encounters, and your daughter is no exception.

While as a parent, one always wants to rescue our kids and smooth out the wrinkles; sometimes it’s essential just to let them maneuver any fallout. Adolescents must develop coping skills, including the bandwidth to manage anxiety, conflict, and hurt feelings. When we step in and try and ease some of that uneasiness, even with the best intentions, we rob our child of the growth opportunity. In addition, the rhetoric used by teens and lingo trends is difficult to manipulate. Teens talk in quite a different dialect that is almost impossible to comprehend, let alone duplicate if you’re not from their generation. So, whether you like it or not, the recipient on their other end will know the sender is not their friend. Her friend may opt to cease texting your daughter altogether for fear others are reading her messages and her conversations are not private.

I advise you to offer your daughter some insight regarding what is appropriate to convey over a text versus an in-person conversation.

When issues get heated, and they often do when it comes to teens, it would be best for her to understand a face-to-face conversation, even if it’s just on Facetime; it will be much more impactful, beneficial, and cut out any confusion a text message may create.

Your daughter may wish to share with her friend that she doesn’t always have her phone in hand when at home and if there is a longer delay in a response, which is why. That may help ease some of her friend’s frustration or upset regarding the delayed reply. Your daughter may also wish to share that others can view her messages when she is away from her phone at home, so it would be wise to wait for her to reply before sharing additional details. That move will protect your daughter and her friend’s privacy and create a sense of respect between the two.

Parenting is tough! It’s challenging today with the ongoing advancement of technology and its importance in the social lives of the youth. The best gift you can give your daughter is her independence but with a heavy dash of your knowledge and guidance