I just got a my phone back after a long period of confiscation, about 5 days ago. It has a pattern lock on it, and my mother doesn't know the pattern.

She says that the only reason I'd put a pattern lock was if I was doing something wrong. I say that I'm not, but then she insists that I remove the lock.

I refuse, and now she says that she'll confiscate it again. I've had it for five days, and that only because I had to travel.

I do not want to remove the lock, but I do not want her to confiscate my phone either. It has several functions which my mother's phone doesn't and can't, and I use it for studying.

What should I do?

  • 4
    Do you have the lock on your phone with the intention of keeping your parents out, or is it to keep strangers out? Roughly what age are you? It can be a big difference for the answers if you are 13 or 19. Apr 25, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    Is her lack of trust specific and/or justified? -- Are you doing something wrong with it? Was losing the phone previously about the phone or some other issue?
    – user26011
    Apr 25, 2018 at 18:10
  • as @BartvanIngenSchenau said: WHY do you have the lock on it? If it is to keep strangers (or siblings?) out, then the answer to your question will be very different than if it is to keep your parents out. Similarly your age (or aprox age) is relevant to the answers too. Apr 25, 2018 at 20:38
  • 2
    I am 15. The lock is to keep strangers, siblings, etc out. Apr 26, 2018 at 0:40
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Apr 28, 2018 at 17:27

4 Answers 4


It has a pattern lock on it, and my mother doesn't know the pattern.

She says that the only reason I'd put a pattern lock was if I was doing something wrong. I say that I'm not, but then she insists that I remove the lock.

Depending on your age and the purpose of you having a phone (some parents of children of 10-15 do it more for "personal safety" than anything) I would say there's a workaround to this.

Assuming that you don't have anything on there that you think your Mother would find questionable, offensive or would disapprove of- why not let her know what the pattern is, or change it to a PIN that she also knows?

This gives you two benefits- firstly for security's sake, nobody but you and her know the code, secondly it lets her access it if she really wants to so it eases her mind.

However there are two other important factors here- firstly, is it your phone, as in bought with your own money?

If it's your phone that you have bought, with your own funds (or paid monthly, however it works out)- it's your phone, plain and simple. Your mother has no real say over you having it, but obviously it's causing friction- was this why it was taken before? Depending on where you live, it's worth noting that some mobile carriers won't enter into a contract with you depending on your age- so arguably there's a legal issue here as well- as if your parents pay for it, well, it's entirely down to them.

Secondly if your age is in the region of 15+, this enters into the territory of just plain invading your privacy.

In terms of age, if 15+ we need to start talking privacy. All parents worry about their children and who they're talking to- depending on gender as well, Girls tend to be even more worried about.

The best you can do is be fair- depending on the above: either try and work with her by letting her have acccess if it isn't paid for by you etc, or if it is yours etc then she needs to accept you're growing up and that you need to be your own person, with your own responsibilities and to be trusted.

Unless there's a good reason why she's taken it before and is apparently quite controlling over it, this shouldn't be a problem- but at the end of the day this is your mother and presumably you live at home with her, so it's "her rules" unless you're old enough to be paying rent and to be considered a young adult.

Perhaps it would be worth your trying to have a reasonable conversation with her and explain why you have the lock on, that it's due to siblings and strangers- is this a similar situation to your siblings as well with their phones?

Discuss trust, giving you responsibility etc and that you're old enough to be given the chance to be an adult as unless there's a good reason for you having it taken off you, it's fair to say you deserve a chance.

It's all very well to say that as parents they have XYZ rights- but being a parent isn't always as simple as a black and white view, especially as kids age you have to allow for a certain margin, with "wiggle room". You're a teenager, it's widely accepted this is a period where people start to begin to "find" themselves and it's tumultous at times. They may percieve what you're doing as bucking authority, but what- do they expect to beat you down the instant they disagree with you on any point?

A time comes when some freedom is something they'll need to give you- they may not like it, you don't like things at the moment- it will either come at the point you move out in the future, or sooner if you can both come to an agreement.


I'm not going to beat around the bush.

Your mother has an obligation as your parent and caretaker to have access to the phone you use. If you want to be emancipated then that is your choice, but until you are an adult she is responsible for you.

You may not like it, but you are still a child. Funny thing is that one day you'll be happy your mother looks out for you. The older you get the more you realize you won't get through life very well without people helping you, looking out for you, and cheering you on.

Even if you don't like it now I strongly suggest you submit to her request. When you behave with respect to those in rightful authority over you then your life will work out better than otherwise.

Of course this does not mean your life will work out better than what you wish, but that is not something any of us gets.

There is a pattern in life which you can go against, and if you do it will be to your pain. Following rules of those in power is simply required. But that isn't even the main thing here. This topic is following the rules of those whose life goal is to care for you. If you go against that, and turn away the people who care most for you then you are really just harming yourself.

For your own best interest listen to your mom and don't give her a hard time.

EDIT: further thought.

Authority exists for a reason, and we are all better off with it. There are guidelines for people who have authority and for those under authority. When we operate inside those guidelines and take responsibility for our roles everything works out better.

In general I fully believe that a parents role of authority includes being part of their kids lives without secrets in the way. Parents won't be perfect, and some will abuse this power or even worse avoid it completely. However, imperfections offer the chance for communication and understanding. When a parent remembers to focus on their love for their child, and provides strong love based leadership then amazing things will happen.


Is your mom working at the CIA?

Joke asside I absolutely dissagree with the answers here. You have your right to not tell everything to your mother and it doesn't matter if you have school work or porn on the device.

In general I would seek the direct confrontation with your mother. Tell her that you have your privat things, the same way she does, that you simply want them to stay private. And that you don't see any reason why she needs to know everything.

Especcially the last part is important. Don't say that there is no reason but that you don't see one, on that way you may lead her to give you some information on why she wants to know. That way you can on one side, argue with the deaper reason, wich is often way more effective to change someones mind. Or to maybe see that she has a good point on why she wants to see what you are doing.

However there are some cases where confrontation is a bad idea. Mostly if your parents are strongly religios. In that case arguing won't lead anywhere exept in getting thrown out or some "mental healing" nonsence.

  • If OP refuses, the phone is confiscated again. How does that help? Apr 30, 2018 at 21:06
  • She has no rights at that age, unless she's bought the phone with her own money, but even then isn't considered old enough to be a "responsible" adult, so her parents can act in her best interests. It also does matter what's on it- if she's being groomed or dodgy pictures are involved, it's against the law. Her confronting her Mother as you're suggesting is confrontational and will lead to an argument. Trying to discuss it levelly and with respect is far more likely to get a positive repsonse. May 1, 2018 at 10:30
  • @FeralSquirrel 1. Even if her rights are limited, because she is young, doesn't mean she has no rights, quite the opposite. Now what rights she actually has, is a state by state question for the law part from this side, not parenting. 2. Her mother clearly isn't acting in her best interrest when she forbits her, her privacy. It seems more that this is just another case of a mom, that can't deal with their chidlren getting older and making their own decisions. 3. There is no law, forbiting chidlren to have porn, it just isn't allowed to give them porn.
    – Etaila
    May 2, 2018 at 18:05
  • @FeralSquirrel 4.If she is groomed, bullied or otherwise attacked, the last thing that helps is finding by digging in her privat space. Usually people tend to not ask for help in such situations, when they are ashamed or don't trust people arround them enough. So the mother already screwed the whole thing up. Now to just contiune, will just lead further into disaster. I mean, even if she would be 100% right, what kind of parrenting is that? Just force force force as long as you can and the moment you can't anymore because you kids get legal, their just on their own with no help or...
    – Etaila
    May 2, 2018 at 18:18
  • @FeralSquirrel ...any expierince how to deal with problems and life.
    – Etaila
    May 2, 2018 at 18:23

Your parents have power in this situation. They can take the phone at will, as they have demonstrated. In order to reduce conflict, and still maintain your privacy, I suggest the following:

Give them the pattern lock to your phone, and instead select apps that put your private media under protection via passcode. For example, Signal could be used as your primary SMS app as it is lockable. Depending on the operating system of your phone, there may be a "Private Mode" (Android) or iOS apps that have a similar function. Delete your browsing history. It is likely that you know how to use this technology much better than your parents, so make use of that.

  • I am doing that already. Apr 28, 2018 at 11:02
  • 1
    @MalayTheDynamo sounds like you've got it covered then! Apr 28, 2018 at 16:30

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