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Is it ever appropriate to break the 4 walls of a family and tell a friend a family secret?

(44 Posts)
HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 01:19:56

If a family problem is bothering you, like your sister is having a problem with her husband, or if your Mum is feeling down and asked you not to tell anybody, or even if you have a problem of your own....

Do you trust a friend?

BookieMonster Tue 30-Apr-13 01:32:01

Some "secrets" are a very heavy burden to carry on your own. If you have a trusted friend who can give you support and advice that eases that burden, I don't think it is wrong.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Apr-13 01:34:02

I was not aware that there were walls round a family that should not be breached. Maybe you could tell us more about that because talking to others about a 'private family situation' is exactly sort of thing abusive people tend to forbid.

My view on this is roughly as follows.

If someone offloads to me then this becomes part of my life, my burden, it affects me, and I'm entitled to talk about my feelings on this matter to a confidante of my own. However I should be be considerate of who I talk to.

Sometimes someone will confide a secret or talk about a sensitive issue with me that they would not want me to share with others for whatever reason. If I feel the need to talk about this I tend to choose someone who is unconnected to that person. For instance my sister is never likely to meet any of my mates as we live far away from one another. So I might tell her what is going on in a friend's life and vice versa.

AdoraBell Tue 30-Apr-13 01:36:31

I have two friends I know I can trust with anything. You'd have to be absolutely sure you could trust the friend. If not you might talk to someone like a GP or counsellor.

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 01:43:36

What WafflyVersatile says makes a lot of sense, however I'm curious why AdoraBell mentioned counselling. It's two different approaches completely. I have never considered counselling. Hmm

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Apr-13 01:46:24

Well we don't have any knowledge of the problem you have in mind. Counselling or a doctor (or a priest!) might be more appropriate if you don't feel a friend is appropriate.

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 02:03:22

No no. Its not horrendous. I'm not about to make shockwaves. I was just wondering when/where you feel the 4 walls of a family spills over to your friends smile

Nehru Tue 30-Apr-13 02:05:06

What's this 4 walls crap?

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Apr-13 02:09:07

I don't quite get what you mean by '4 walls' either - do you mean private family matters?

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 02:12:15

Yes sorry, I mean 4 walls as in a family matter.

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 02:12:58

And its not 'crap', everyone has family issues that u don't want others a party to.

ExRatty Tue 30-Apr-13 02:13:29

It depends on whether or not you feel overburdened by the secret.
Examine your need to tell someone. Has it to do with wanting to gain a fresh perspective or to help you process your thoughts and emotions? If so then I'd probably speak to a friend but remove all markers about it being to do with my family.
If it comes from a necessity to gossip. Name change and spill on MN or Twitter

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 02:21:06

I mean in a.....'he is treating me bad, don't tell anyone'.....or.....'I'm unhappy, don't tell anyone'..... Nothing sinister like I think people are taking it. Just.....when do you tell your friends?

If you want them to know all about you, do you tell them all about your family and their family members whose decisions and problems affects you?

AdoraBell Tue 30-Apr-13 02:37:42

Depends what the secret is Hoveringkestral some are simply private info, others can cause the only person who knows huge amounts of stress effecting their life by having to keep it to themselves.

HintofBream Tue 30-Apr-13 06:36:12

If you cannot keep a secret, neither will your friend.

TheRealFellatio Tue 30-Apr-13 06:43:28

My experience, in confiding in people who are close to me is that almost ALWAYS go on to tell someone else. I hate that. I inherently distrust most people and I prefer not to tell things that I need to stay private to anyone now. I just cannot rely on anyone to keep a secret. My mum has told my ex MIL things, my sister tells my mum things, my mum tells my sister and vice versa. I don't even feel I can always trust my DH not to blurt something out that I would prefer stayed between the two of us. I don't think they mean any harm by it - they just assume that as we all care about one another then it won't matter, but it matters a lot to me. If you really, really need something to stay a secret then the only person you can really trust is yourself. don't tell anyone unless you have to.

I am more likely to tell a friend something, as few of my very close friends know one another, so there is less risk of cross contamination! Even then though - I rarely confide in people where the very big things are concerned, and I don't tell Mumsnet either - at least not under my usual name.

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 07:00:55

I think it is a a balancing act.

Partly it will depend on the issue.
Partly it will depend on what sort of friends you have.
Partly it will depend on what your family members are like themselves about talking about their own issues.

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 07:03:47

You mentioned about "if you want friends to know all about you".

I, for instance wouldnt tell them necessarily tell them what colour underwear I am wearing that day, so no, even to friends, you never tell them everything.

MexicanHouseThief Tue 30-Apr-13 07:17:23

Agree with dogsandcats' post of 7.00.55. I would and do talk to my oldest friend about my dysfunctional family and their various issues, and vice versa. People in my family are incapable of having honest conversations with each other, which makes family secrets massively toxic and stressful. If I didn't discuss stuff with my friends I would go bananas.

tethersend Tue 30-Apr-13 07:22:02

It really depends on the secret.

Incest or abuse for example, should be told.

yellowhousewithareddoor Tue 30-Apr-13 07:30:50

Are we not supposed to talk about family stuff then? Oops.

Andro Tue 30-Apr-13 08:18:26

Depends on the secret I guess, but I will talk about most things with my best friend (who I am significantly closer to than my own put it mildly).

Triumphoveradversity Tue 30-Apr-13 08:25:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

diddl Tue 30-Apr-13 08:33:49

"If you want them to know all about you, do you tell them all about your family and their family members whose decisions and problems affects you?"

No, because that's not about me, it's about other people.

AuntieStella Tue 30-Apr-13 08:35:23

If you want to continue to be confided in, then you don't tell.

If you do not want to be recipient of those confidences, tell the person who is seeking your help that you don't want to hear as you feel unable to respect their privacy.

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