A concerned uncle came to Reddit for advice after a disturbing conversation with his brother.
My (25M) brother- let's call him Rick (38M) - and sister in law told me that my niece (14) is starting to think about boys.
I told them I think it's cool that Emily feels comfortable talking to them about that kind of stuff, when they revealed that she actually does not, but they know because they read her diary.
I was a little shocked by this and I told them I think that's really messed up, and we got into an argument that ended with Rick ultimately saying it's his kid, and while she's under his roof, they reserve the right to know everything that's going on.
They also said I was telling them how to parent when I don't have kids of my own.
While they have a point, in my gut I think it's wrong to invade someone's privacy to an extent, even if it is your own kid. Emily doesn't know they read her journal.
I know I shouldn't tell her, but I'm looking for a loophole. WIBTA (Would I be the a-hole) if I privately gave her a diary with a lock or maybe found a sneaky way to tell her to hide her diary?
Reddit had a lot to say on the matter, but it was mostly NTA (not the a-hole).
Sigh. Kids like your niece can easily turn into the ones who sneak around, lie, and hide everything they do because their parents don't trust them. My childhood best friend was one of them... he would lie to his folks when the truth would have served him better, just on principle. He moved out on his 18th birthday and never looked back.
Maybe his experience colors my answer. But having now seen it from the POV of a parent too, I think that at some point (And under normal circumstances), you have to let go and trust that you're teaching your kids right. Kids need their privacy, and parents need to give it to them.
And I think YWNBTA (you would not be the a-hole) if you helped your niece in that direction. That's actually more than giving her a journal - it's letting her know you have her back, and there's no greater gift!
Thank you. Our parents were like this, which is why I was shocked that they would do this. I became secretive myself and I guess he just repeated what he learned. That may be why my instinct is to give her a way to retake her privacy.
Even though I live alone I still worry about privacy. I even hide my trash. My mom used to look in the trash and confront me about things I'd thrown out, or lecture me about the kind of food I was eating.
No tell her to keep it online, in a password protected journal. Locked paper journals are still very easy to break into.
This. Years ago, we gave a locked diary to my step-son, and his mother just broke the lock, and her control issues toward him got worse. He ended up moving in with us full time. OP's niece doesn't have that luxury.
NTA. I would maybe let it slip to the niece that daddy dearest is reading the diary. They would find a way to break the lock.
As much as I want to tell her, I think telling her would cause her to panic and create a rift between them. It may cause a rift between my brother and me and I worry I won't be allowed over to the house. Then I wouldn't be able to help at all.
Getting her things with locks is going to unfortunately further the problem. If those parents see a lock, they’re gonna be convinced she has something to hide and they’re gonna snoop and grill her more than they do.
Unfortunately your niece is stuck in a tough position, and so are you - cause you’re right, if you do tell her outright that her parents are snooping there’s going to be consequences. Either way, there’s going to be negative consequences for your niece with parents like that.
Yeah. That's a very good point. Someone else said I could suggest an online journal instead. I think that's starting to look like a good option.
Emily's parents are definitely breaching her privacy, but that doesn't mean OP needs to trash their entire relationship.