Parenting Your Teenager: Of Course You Can Search Your Teens Room

Q. We recently caught our son smoking pot, and we wonder whether he's doing more stuff. We have reason to believe he has been hiding drugs in his room, and we're wondering whether we should go into his room to see whether we can find anything. Some parents we've talked to say yes. Others say, "Don't invade his privacy because you will lose his trust." What do you think we should do?

A. Based on more than 25 years of working with teen-agers and families, I suggest:

Absolutely, yes, go check out his room.

I say this for at least three reasons:

1) It's your house.

You bought it. You pay the mortgage. You can go anywhere in the house you wish to go.

End of story.

2) You have reason to believe that there is something dangerous in your son's room.

If you knew there was a poisonous snake or a ticking bomb in his room, would you want to go in and get it out?

Of course.

You have reason to believe there is something both poisonous and explosive in his room.

Find out and get it out.

3) While you are correct to believe that trust is a crucial issue here, the trust between you already has been broken.

Your son broke it when he began to smoke pot and keep it from you. And in my experience, there is usually more that you do not know behind what you have already discovered.

Your first job is to get him safe, and then you can work on rebuilding the trust.

You can look through his room and then deal with him about whatever you find. Another way to look through his room is to do it with him, and then you get to deal with whatever you find as you find it.

Either way, he certainly won't like it much, but that is not the issue.

Visit for tips and tools for thriving during the teen years. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 5 day e-program on The Top 5 Things to Never Say to Your Teenager, from parenting coach and expert Jeff Herring .

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