Below is a chapter from Rule #2: Don’t Be an Asshat: An Official Handbook for Raising Parents and Children. Over time we will be posting most of the book, though, should this inspire you to buy a copy, we would not be offended 🙂 Posted chapters can be found in the Table of Contents.
Rule #8: Don’t tell other people’s stories (Dad)
We are a family of storytellers.
Like knights at the round table, when we gather as a family we regale ourselves with tales of epic adventures, embarrassing family moments, and touching remembrances of relatives who have paved the way. Without fail there are the stories that we always tell about one another, there are the stories that we wish would be struck from the family lexicon, and there is never ever any embellishment, revisionism, or hyperbole. Never.
Generally our storytelling is good-natured and helps to build up our already resolute family relationships. That is, until someone tells a story or shares something that was not theirs to tell or share. Sometimes we unknowingly embarrass a child or share a conflict that the other party was not ready for the entire clan to know about. We often do this unintentionally, but at other times we are simply behaving passive-aggressively—not that I have ever done either of these things.
What is important to understand is that not all stories are yours to share. Each person’s level of privacy is different; some people are not comfortable with having relationship conflicts adjudicated by the entire family, and some people would prefer to tell their own embarrassing stories.
In the end, err on the side of restraint. Tell the stories that make you look like a jackass or a social misfit, but when it comes to other people—let them tell their own stories.[image: nenzen]