Spying On Our Kids, Ethical?

Question and answer details
L (35_female_Afganistan)
My daughter has been caught doing sinful things with boys. She is a teenager and despite any interventions (Islamic and otherwise), she would repent for a short while and go back sneaking behind our backs. Since our precautionary measures were not enough, we have become a bit fearful and paranoid. Last night, my husband was looking at my daughter's messy room and found a paper she wrote to a former classmate. It was telling him that she would like to chat with him. My sister said that it is spying and haram. If she goes through with what she wrote, then it will wreak havoc on the family. Please tell me if it is indeed haram and if a person should just let their child do things though that child is obviously not in any mindset to care about consequences to herself and family due to her negligence.
Attia Zaidi

Wa ‘Alaykom Salam,

Normal Interests

She is at an age where she is interested in the opposite gender, and due to Islamic rules she is not allowed to engage in her interest.

Firstly, as parents we must understand that her interests are normal and she should not be punished for her interests. Her actions are against your family values and thus it is her actions which should be the focus of your discussions. 

It is important for us to realize that it may be difficult for her to keep her distance from boys, especially if her peer group does not follow the same values as your family.


Motivation is Needed

Secondly, we must understand that when anyone does something or does not something there is always some motivation behind it.

Your daughter is not internally motivated to follow these rules of Islam. This way, regardless of how many interventions you place she will find a way to engage because she doesn’t see the importance of it. 

The only way she will refrain is to deeply understand the reasons behind the rules. If you simply enforce certain rules, she may obey them temporarily but as she gets older she will find her independence and do as she pleases.

Religion should come from a place of love not of fear. It is important to inculcate a love for her religion and a love for its rules, despite them being difficult. If she feels loyal to her religious values, she will strive to obey them regardless of how difficult/tempting the situation may be.


Spying Breaks Trust

Also, I discourage parents ‘spying’ on their children because it breaks down trust and once trust is broken it takes a long time for it to rebuild. 

I am assuming that you want a relationship with your daughter where she can come to you for problems and guidance. To establish this you must treat her like a young adult and give her due space. 

Spend time with your daughter where there is no criticizing or teaching. Build your bond with her by taking interests in her interests, praising her accomplishments, creating memories and having fun. When you disapprove of her, say it gently and tell her in a manner that will not make her feel judged and defensive. 

After she feels that she is emotionally safe with her parents, she will begin to take your opinions and views into serious consideration.

I hope you find success with your daughter.


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