What can and can’t be talked about

Have you made the rules clear?

I find this is a step which many families skip.  It’s the invisible, unspoken piece which adds or detracts from our comfort with each other.  It’s the “culture” and “common sense” that we expect people to intuitively know.

What can and can’t be talked about

Things like: What’s public and what’s private?  What’s taboo?  What’s ok to be upset about, and worthy of discussion?  What cries will be disregarded?  What will be shamed if revealed?

We ALL have something in each of these categories

For me, most topics are public, but the details of family conflicts are private, and it’s taboo to discuss sex or excretion while we’re eating.

It’s ok to be upset about anything, and I’m game to talk about it.  I’m naturally a caretaker, over-giver type, so cries that I haven’t been generous enough will often be disregarded, because I’m actively trying to lean the other direction.

I try not to shame anything, but I admit that I don’t have a high opinion of unproductive leisure time. Excessive amounts of web surfing, video gaming, or TV watching might be the target of a glib remark.  I’ll struggle not to shame if my partner reports being attracted to someone else, or being careless, but I’ll try to handle it without the shoulds creeping in.

“Just respect each other”

Some people call all of this “respecting” each other.  Gosh, there’s a lot bundled into that word! Unpacking it is soooo useful.

Has this happened to you?

I’ve had close family tell me that I’m over reacting, making a big deal over nothing…and clearly I disagree, or I wouldn’t be insisting on talking about it.  It feels like an impasse, when someone minimizes my perspective.

Rather than re-explain my stance, I’ve found it much more useful to discuss what’s ok to be upset about, what’s worthy of a talk.  Creating a common vision for maintaining the relationship is a key step.

Shine the light on these dark corners

This is the work of opening the communication, of boundaries and consent, of safeguarding the next generation from more #metoo stories.

Are the rules clear in your family?  Do you agree with which topics are public, private, and taboo, and what’s worthy of discussion?

If this is an area you’d like to work on, because the rules aren’t clear, because your concerns are disregarded, because there isn’t enough safety for important conversations to happen, let’s talk!  I’d love to help you clarify and shift.  Grab a spot on my calendar here.

In support of you,


P.S. These conversations and skills are a big part of the Attuned group program!  If you’d like that community and safe space to grow, join us and learn how to open the communication in your family.  Regular registration closes June 15th.

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