Teenagers tell their friends everything. Every detail of their day, their dates, their moments. Shoot most of Facebook knows when you have peed and what color it is. As we grow older and wiser we learn boundaries. There are certain things we tell our friends and certain things we just keep to ourselves. We also set boundaries for what we want to hear. I say no to crude sexual jokes from anyone and I really don’t need to know the sexual positions of my friends. So my girlfriends and I know each other’s boundaries. Sometimes we go outside the norm if we have a female issue, maybe medical in nature that we need advice on. But that is what we choose to tell our girlfriend about ourselves, but what is okay and not okay to discuss with your friend about your children?
I think the only way to answer that is what would we NOT want our parents to tell their friends about us. My mom had a best friend since elementary school. My mom told her everything including personal and private things about me. I don’t know what my mom’s intentions were other than she needed her friend to listen and wanted someone to commiserate about her daughter’s various situations. I found it odd, the things my mother chose to tell her friends. She did not tell them I was abused. Had she told them, I would have had adult female support. What my mom chose to share were embarrassing things about my personal self. She did not tell them about what men had done to me. It was okay to tell them things I would later find humiliating that others knew, but not things that could have helped me. I find this bizarre. But the point is, she chose to tell her friends things about me. When you choose your circle of trust in your friendships, be sure those friendships will be lifelong. I cannot be mad at my mother, nor point the finger at my mother for the things she chose to tell her girlfriends. But one of those girlfriends felt it was necessary to let me know she knew these intimate details about me. I was incredibly embarrassed. Who knew what I told my mother privately, she would tell her girlfriend, and would come back to hit me in the face 20 years later? I’m sure my mom didn’t think about it when she told her!
Abuse seems hushed. Yet girlfriends, no matter what age, find it perfectly acceptable to discuss the size of their husband’s penis or how many times a week they have sex. I am not here to judge what anyone chooses to pour out to their girlfriend. I am here to tell you that if you are going to pour out your secrets to your girlfriend, make sure that secret is in a sacred trust circle. Make sure that if that friend poof disappeared from your life tomorrow, that secret being spread would not mortify you or your child.
I am here to bring to light the secrecy of abuse and the protection of our children and their privacy. Many important topics, all needing to be spoken.
What is okay to discuss about your child? First, what would your child be okay with you discussing? What would your child want kept private? Your child deserves to have their privacy respected. But all parents need advice at one point or another whether it is a physical change or an emotional one, we need our girlfriends. “Jimmy is biting again.” “Susan is still eating her boogers,” ” Janie is still wetting the bed,” “Johnny is still sucking his thumb.” All childhood issues that we have sought advice from our friends about. But as Janie gets older is it so important that your girlfriends know she started her period? Is it important they know when she lost her virginity? Is it important for them to know that Johnny gave her a sexually transmitted disease? Where do you draw the line?
You ask yourself one question: Is this in the best interest of my child for me to talk to my girlfriend about this?” If talking to your girlfriend will help your child then you weigh that out. If you are merely gossiping about your child’s personal life then that is a boundary that should not be crossed.
Should my mom have told her friends that I was sexually abused? Should they have known I attempted suicide? Should they have known I was put in a hospital because of that? I would answer yes to all of those. She could have used advice and support. She could have used guidance. She could have had her girlfriends weigh in on what she should have done. Would that have been in the best interest of me? Yes. Would I have said yes? At the time, I don’t know. But sometimes parents have to make adult decisions based on their child’s best interest. It would have been in everyone’s best interest to know about the abuse. Instead there was this insidious secret that eventually blew up and destroyed my family.
You have to decide who you let in your trust circle and why. What you choose to talk to your girlfriends about in regards to yourself is completely different than what you discuss in reference to your child. It deserves reflection and contemplation. Sometimes, we have to unload the burdens of our worries about our child. We just need to be accutely aware of who we unload those burdens to so that one day it doesn’t come back to our child and slap them in the face. My mother was only human. She needed her girlfriends. Some of those girlfriends have betrayed her by hurting me. I don’t blame her for that. But as parents, we are accountable for what we choose to share. Lets make sure we share the important things. Silence in abuse will only hurt the child more. Break the silence. If it’s the only thing you talk to your girlfriend about, talk to her about that.