Practical Dad

Whose Room Is It?

Dad, it's my room.  Why did you open the door?

This came from one the kids who arrived home from school to find the bedroom door open.  And it begs the question, just whose room is it, really?

Teens are acutely aware of their privacy, especially as their bodies change and they become more aware of their privacy.  I get that and recall the days of walking in my bedroom, shutting the door, turning on the music and turning off the world.  While it appears to be lazy - especially as I wander through carrying laundry or stuff - it does serve a purpose.  That however, is a different article for a different day.

The question arises because of what occurs behind the doors, at least in terms of unacceptable behavior.  Yes, I also know about self-stimulation and unless it appears to take center stage in life, my view is that it's normal sexual development for teens.  But unacceptable behavior in this instance pertains to actions which damage the property.  I know one family whose son had an Air-Soft gun, a high-pressure air gun that can shoot plastic pellets at a high rate of speed, and he'd periodically load up the gun and shoot the walls of the room.  Did it knock holes in the walls?  No, but it did leave the walls with an interesting dimpled effect from the high-pressure impact.  It's a conversation that I've had on multiple occasions with one of the kids as I've had to (re)explain my stance.

  • I reserve the right to open up the room when the child's not around to permit air to flow and stuffiness to dissipate.  Teenagers' rooms can get rank in a New York minute if permitted.  When the kid gets home and chooses to shut the door, I'll honor that.
  • If damage occurs within the room - and I mean the damage that arise from brain-dead anarchy - then the door will stay open as the child has shown himself incapable of behaving in such a way as to deserve privacy.  Sorry, but the Justices don't live under my roof.  It might be your room, but it exists inside of my house and will revert back to me when you've grown and moved on.
  • Privacy is also a privilege that can be removed in the event of outside misbehavior so egregious that it warrants it.  And there have been instances in our household when the bedroom doors have been removed because of major-league issues.  While we sometimes permit the kids to earn back removed privileges - note that I didn't say rights - the loss of privacy is something that we've let run the full course.
  • I periodically make the statement that I reserve the right to search a room if I deem necessary.  I don't know that that will occur but I don't want the kids to claim that they were ever unaware that it could occur.
  • To the extent that it's possible, any damage within the room will be fixed or cleaned up by the offending child.  That includes scrubbing the floor and spackling and painting damaged walls.  I can talk until I'm blue in the face but having to sand a recently spackled wall will send a memorable message - and teach the kid another life skill.

The last point that I've occasionally had to make, especially as the kid ages and matures, is whether they'd like someone to treat their property as they might have treated mine.  Some kids will never quite understand the point, but others will and amend their ways accordingly.

And to finally prove the point, not only do I open the door to the bedroom but I even open the window.

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