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Dad Slams Ex for Tracking Teens’ Phones After They Drink Alcohol — Invasion of Privacy or Good Parenting?

A divorced couple with opposite rules about underage drinking are deadlocked about their children’s behavior. So who is “strict” and who is “negligent?”
The father, whose children are 18, 17, and 15, wrote to Reddit’s “Am I The A**hole” section to describe his ex-wife’s reaction when he allowed their kids to remove tracking devices she placed on their phones as a consequence for drinking alcohol.  “Linda is a far more strict parent than I am. That’s why the kids choose to live with me most of the time,” he wrote. “Linda has never liked that fact. She calls me negligent and accuses me of spoiling them to steal the kids away from her.”

However, he insists, this is not true. “I have rules, just fewer of them than Linda does, and I hardly ‘spoil’ the kids when I make them get jobs to earn their own money. The kids are great kids. They’ve all got over 4.0 GPAs, the boys are varsity athletes, and my daughter is on the dance team. They’re humble, respectful, and exactly how I’ve raised them to be.”

Recently, his children went out partying “as teenagers will do” and consumed alcohol. “I don’t care if my kids drink as long as they’re safe about it,” he said. “Don’t get arrested, never drive drunk, always know you can call me for a ride, or I’ll pay for your Uber.” The teens normally drink on weekends however, “There has never been any issue with the kids getting out of control.”

But Linda has banned the teens from drinking and installed tracking devices on their phones which were paid for by him. “She even threatened to call the police on any party they’re drinking at if that’s what it would take,” the dad wrote. “….That obviously pissed the kids off. When they told me about it, I gave them permission to delete it. I pay for the phones after all.”

When his ex-wife found out, “She went ballistic on [me] for the rest of the night. After I stopped responding, she went back to texting the kids. I finally called her, and I basically told her she’s not putting tracking apps on phones she doesn’t own, and can drop it.”

The father asked Reddit for advice.

“I swear in the U.K. it’s basically a rite of passage to wake up in a field after night of drinking at SOME point before you turn 18,” a person responded. Someone added, “Australian here! Yeah mate, if she’s worried about your kids drinking [one or two] times a week on weekends…she’d have a heart attack six times over if she knew how Australian high schoolers operate outside of class time.”

“New Zealander here! I was allowed to drink from around 14 at home with my parents and then from around 16 I could have small parties at home,” a person recalled. “I learned how to safely drink in moderation and can say now as a 27 year old, I’ve never gotten so drunk I needed help.”

“Elder millennial here from the Jersey shore,” one user wrote. “I was drinking during the summer by 15-16.”

Other Reddit commenters didn’t have that sort of childhood. “I am around your age as well, and my friends and I did not drink in high school,” one said. “I’m sure there we people who did, but it’s not the norm for everyone.” Another said, “I’m horrified anyone thinks it’s normal for high schoolers to drink even that much.”

But there was support for both the father and the mother. “Tracking apps and knowing the passcodes for high school aged kids? That’s a bit extreme” and “Your ex shouldn’t be putting tracking apps on your kids’ phones no matter who paid for them” were some responses. One agreed with the dad’s rule: “…Better this than having the kids drink too much and crash because they are scared that their parents will be mad.” And someone called out the mom for her “total invasion of privacy.”

“I realize your parenting style is not saying no to them, because that just encourages teenagers even more,” a person wrote of the father, “but it really seems like you’re setting your kids up to be alcoholics. Your ex-wife recognizes this and is desperate to do something.”

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