DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter has started keeping her door closed when her friends are over. They have just started high school. They used to include me in their gossip, but now it appears that I am not welcome to join or even overhear. I want to make sure my daughter isn't growing up too quickly while letting her keep her privacy. My husband thinks nothing good can happen behind closed doors, but I argue that they're only 14 and can't be getting into too much trouble. -- Door Open or Closed, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR DOOR OPEN OR CLOSED: Stop defending your daughter and establish ground rules. If she was never allowed to close the door before, that rule should remain in effect today. If you want to split the difference, you could tell your daughter she can close the door as long as she understands that you can open it whenever you want to.
It may be true that you are no longer privy to teen gossip, but you need to be seen as the one in charge. Teenagers do push buttons. It is their nature. To ensure that they are safe in their behavior and thinking, let your daughter know that you reserve the right to come in whenever you please. You can knock briefly before entering, in an effort to show them respect, but definitely conduct regular patrolling exercises. Your husband is right.