This Is Why I’m Not Tracking My Teens

I’m on the cusp of so many things involving my kids I can taste my anxiety. Next year my oldest will start driving, my youngest will say goodbye to elementary school, my daughter will be in her last year of middle school and about to enter into the land of high school and sharing hallways with 17- year-olds.

It smells like teen spirit up in here and the temptations and pressures are only going to get more tempting for them, and in turn, making us all feel more pressure. There are ways for me to know where they will be every damn second. All I have to do is install a few tracking apps in our phones, and I can see what speed my son is driving, if he’s unlocked his phone while driving, if he is at the location where tells me he is, and the exact mile marker he is on the highway.

They sound great in theory, a good way to set my mind at ease and reassure me my kids are playing by the rules, right?

Only wrong. I know what will happen the moment I start tracking my kids. Tracking devices are a gateway for me to become even more overbearing than I already am. My anxiety will go through the roof and I won’t be able to not let these apps rule my world.

Why this mom is not tracking her teens

After all, what’s the point of having them if I’m not going to obsessively check and let them distract me from living my life? While some parents may be able to use them responsibly and in moderation, I am not one of them.

But the bigger picture here is I just don’t see how these will show my kids I trust them. As a teen, if I was watched all the time I’d think my parents didn’t believe in me enough to trust I would drive the speed limit, or go where I said I was going, or have any kind of freedom whatsoever. Freedoms I believe our teens deserve until they do something to prove otherwise.

We all know parents have a way of finding stuff out without these apps the good old- fashioned way. I tend to like these methods better as it catches our teens off guard and they don’t have time to make up stories or excuses.

I want to keep my kids safe. But you know what I want more? For them to keep themselves safe. If I start tracking them now, where does it end? I know many parents track their kids while in college. Isn’t that when you are supposed to be letting go?

People aren’t meant to be tracked. Teens need to learn responsibility, and how to fly solo independently– they deserve to be on their own when they leave the nest.

I feel if I monitor them in all the ways technology will allow, I’m not just hindering their growth as they turn from kids into young adults, I’m hindering mine, too. It would make it harder for me to let go if I know their every move.

I’ve spend enough years tracking them—like when they were toddlers and learning to walk and they couldn’t go anywhere without me trailing behind lest they fall and hit their head, or try to climb on something.

I listened to them in their room breathing while they were napping. I’ve waited outside the school every day since 2008, watching to make sure they made it in the school safely. I’ve stayed up all night with them when they were sick. I monitor their texts and what websites they go on. This is what we do— we micromanage, we teach, we show our kids the way.

We stress, we lose sleep, we put all of our energy into raising decent human beings. Our work is not done just because they gain some more independence and start driving, working, and spending more and more time away from home. But it is time to loosen our grip a bit. And while this feels like the scariest time to do it, it truly is time.

So, no tracking devices for me and my family. I am going to rely on trust, faith, nosy neighbors, the fact my kids suck at lying, and the other mothers out there who will let me know what’s up if I miss something because I do the same for them.
And I know we will all be just fine.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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