On one side of my family all of the older female relatives literally celebrated, via phone calls, every related teen-girl’s first menses (kind of ala The Red Tent). The other side of my family keeps things so private that even emergency hospitalizations aren’t shared outside of the immediate household until there’s a casual conversation after the release of the patient.
There has GOT to be some middle ground.
I truly believe that families have the right to know about serious health issues and semi-major family crises. You certainly don’t need to share bedroom “stuff”, salaries, spats between household members or things that are told to you in confidence by another family member (unless of course someone’s safety is involved). And when things go awry in life it definitely helps to talk out your angst with someone you can trust.
It was even suggested that if you really need to talk about something that is making you lose sleep, pay a therapist to listen instead of calling your sibling or a close cousin! While there is a time and place for therapy, most worries just need to be aired, a chance to vent, a chance to be coddled for a few minutes. I am not talking about calling a relative to overrule something the spouse wants to do, getting permission or plotting — I’m talking about keeping yourself from being tied up in knots with worry and upset.
I know of couples who won’t allow their spouse to even go to the doctor’s waiting room with them for an appointment, and I also know of couples who will only make appointments when their spouse is available to go with them to talk to the doctor together. Sadly I also know couples who won’ even share the results of crucial medical tests with each other. I used to ride an ambulance as an EMT and a few times I responded to a call where the other household members had no idea what medical conditions the patient had or why they were taking medications… undeniably sad and even a bit scary.
How much sharing is comfortable for you? How much privacy do you need?
I’ve often wondered how many of the “emergency contacts” on forms and in our phones actually have information about the person they are supposedly able to answer for. And why for gosh sakes would someone’s offspring think that mom and dad no longer worry about them even when they live out of the house?
Yes, I do agree that there are things that needn’t be discussed, but there is so much more that should be. Families especially need to be able to rely on one another even if they are under separate roofs. Even unrelated roommates need to know somethings about each other such as where they work and if (and where) they are headed off for a weekend of fun so that is SOMETHING, ANYTHNG unexpected happens, at least the police can get in touch when they need to!
To quote John Donne, “No Man Is an Island” and we cannot create walls as complete insulation between us. We each live, work and play with other human beings and there needs to be just a bit where the lines we draw around ourselves actually overlap and mingle. Honestly you shouldn’t surround yourself with folks that you can’t even trust enough to share who you are with.
I’d love to hear your opinions about privacy…