Invasion of Privacy


As a parent I do a lot of things for my kids. Laundry is one of them. We have all found money, legos and lollipop sticks, tissues etc that all have somehow made it through the washer and drier intact. (well not the tissues – that’s just a huge mess). An acquaintance of mine once washed his passport by mistake!!


I don’t always remember to check pockets in the 20 pairs of pants I get to wash each week, but have told the kids it’s their responsibility to make sure their junk is out of the trousers before they get put in the hamper (it does happen occasionally). Once the clothes are in the hamper, they are fair game, right? So if I find a note in the pocket – I can read it, right, because there is no expectation of privacy. Or not?


My boys are growing up and need more privacy and want me to respect boundaries, as they respect mine. I want to. But….what if I am cleaning up the room and find pants on the floor that need washing. I pick them up to put them in the hamper and come across a bulge in a pocket. Am I invading his privacy by investigating or just doing my mommy jobby? What if, and thank G-d this hasn’t happened, I came across an illegal substance, or even cigarettes, in the pocket? Once you know something you can’t unknow it, but does the child have a right to keep secrets in his pockets until those pockets and their legs need to be washed?


What do you think?

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  1. David says:

    OK, >> YOU << are the adult in the house, not the kids. As they grow older, you need to make that abundantly clear to them, that you have the right and the obligation to know what is going on in their lives.

    Now as you point out, they are growing and maturing, and there is a corresponding need for privacy, as part of their growing sense of self and confidence. So while you have the right to do something, you may not be right in doing it.

    Dirty laundry is fair game regardless of locale. Just make this clear to the Princes. Repeatedly.

  2. Tom says:

    the kids have NO expectation of privacy once the laundry is in the “public” washing machine or even if they don’t clean their room and you have to. I knew this when I was a kid and my kids knew and know that if their room isn’t lean and we clean up – too bad.

  3. With a 13-year-old daughter, I can sympathize. I agree with Tom and David that once it’s in the laundry, it’s public domain, as is it should the necessity arise of picking up their room for them. However, I do think it’s only fair to have a sit-down (if you haven’t already) to clearly state the expectations and where the lines are drawn when it comes to that expectation of privacy. Anything in the pockets – especially money – is always finders-keepers.

  4. batya says:

    hey, you’re washing their laundry-whatever they leave in their pockets is your business! i personally have no qualms about snooping when i feel it’s necessary. these are my kids & i feel it’s my responsibility to know what they are up to as much as is possible so that i can do my job of keeping them in the straight & narrow…

  5. Jewish Side says:

    I’ve never really thought of this before. But I admire your respect for your children. I think so long as you are not snooping and looking for things they are hiding, then its okay. Plus with the relationship you seem to have with your children, I don’t think they would be hiding anything from you. They seem like good children, so you shouldn’t have to worry. It seems like they know they can confide in you, so that if anything was up then they would talk to you about it.

    But yea, I think Laundry put in the Hamper is fair game for being looked at.

  6. ladylockandload says:

    This Ladylockandload’s daughter. You all are a bunch of fuddy duddies giving false assurance. If you want a young person’s perspective, here it is: If clothes are in the hamper, they are fair game. Feel free to snoop and inspect all you want. However, if clothes are draped over a chair or otherwise NOT in the hamper, they are still private property. As much as it is your house and you paid for it all and blah blah blah your kids will hate you unless you give them a reasonable amount of respect and privacy. Your age does not give you the right to treat teenagers like two year olds. Newsflash: they’re no longer in diapers.

  7. frumgoth says:

    I think that it depends somewhat on the age of the child. If he/she is a teenager, 13 and up, then they should be given enough privacy, and trust, that you would not look at what was in the pocket.

  8. Ari says:

    I was doing my own wash at age 13, after I begam dorming at a yeshiva. Never too young to start. If they want pants privacy, they should do their own wash. You can still stay in tune with your kids’ lives without knowing the contents of their pockets.

  9. Rifki says:

    Ari: Agreed. The best policy for offering them that privacy is having them turn into responsible young adults: there’s nothing like doing your own laundry that gives you a mother’s perspective (because you’ve left so many things in your pockets!) My sons have been emptying their pockets/sorting their clothes/turning their socks the right way around/washing/drying/folding/rolling their own for many years now, and they are only 10 and 12 now. Boys will be boys, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be taught how to do their own laundry!

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