Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Full Disclosure

The penultimate question: what should we tell our parents? I don't know about you, but I tell my parents everything, within reason. For example, they know about my blog (hi, DaMom and Daddio!), they know about Prettyboy (they met him last weekend), they know about my apartment (but they have no idea how messy it is, until now), and they know that I'm headed to Bonnaroo this weekend (which reminds me: I've been busy preparing to go and I will be gone until next week; try to hold it together, without me). They don't know what I had for breakfast this morning (half a bagel with non-fat cream cheese), what color nail polish I'm wearing (none), and the details of my love life (beyond having met my boyfriend).

Part of becoming an adult is learning where to draw the line between sharing (and developing a close, equal relationship), oversharing (which gets us into Portnoy's Complaint territory), and becoming a mute. They trust me to make good decisions for myself, in part because they trust that they've raised me to be a responsible, respectful, well-rounded human being. And that trust is also a vote of confidence in who I am as a person. I may not always make choices they understand, but they respect me enough to make a point (if they have a legit issue) or to let me be, so I can reap the repercussions of my decisions on my own. They also know that, as a separate person, I have different likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, and desires and tastes than they. Given that, if I make choices they would never make (such as going to Bonnaroo, for example), they smile and allow me to live my life as I see fit (even if beneath that smile is a thinly masked look of horror that says, "Really? Four days camping outside in the mud with no showers and only Port-a-Potties? Where will she plug in her hair dryer?")

It's art!

What inspired me to wax poetic on the issue of disclosure and parental support? This piece of crap advice in today's Ask Amy. It's an unusual choice to pose nude on the internet, yes, but you've said, Confused and Grieving, that your daughter is a smart girl who graduated college with honors. Could it be that she knows the risks of posing nude and is doing it not for the money, but because she's an exhibitionist or sees it as self-expression? Or, if she is doing it for the money, is it possible that she made this choice understanding the repercussions of her actions and chose to do it regardless?

I understand that you're hurt that she didn't share this part of her life with you and that you feel rejected and scammed. I know that you are afraid for her future, given that once photos are up, they can never come down. Perhaps you're even afraid for her safety, given the increase in internet stalkers and the vitriol that sometimes accompanies internet interaction. Instead of going to her as if you've lost her or as if she's an idiot who cannot possible have considered the repercussions of this choice, how about you see it as a choice. Your daughter made a choice. If you're concerned for all the reasons you mentioned, talk to her, honestly, about how hurt you are that she thought she couldn't come to you (given your response here, though, are you surprised?). Recognize, also, that part of the intensity of your reaction is your realization that your daughter, as a full-grown adult, will make choices you don't understand and will not tell you everything. Nor do you have the right to know everything. So if you're worried about her, drop the overtone of judgement, the fire and brimstone, the "grieving" (!?), and talk to her like the intelligent adult she is.

Private to DaMom and Daddio: Don't worry, I'm not posing nude for internet pics. Although, according to Annie, even if I were, it wouldn't keep me out of the army. But I'm not. Nor am I applying for the army. I'm glad we cleared the air.

Update by Annie: check out this article in HuffPo (thanks Pedant) about athletes taking off their clothes for money.


montana urban legend said...

I'm pretty convinced that when people act this way to decisions like these there will be inevitable undertones - related to a general impulse to control a woman's sexuality, (or perhaps to controlling sexuality in general, and anything potentially related to it) - at play. It is understandable that parents be cautious about what would lead to early, unexpected grandparenthood, or to a case of syphilis in the family, for that matter, but all too often I think people have trouble separating concerns like those from a simple decision, such as in this instance, to just bare it all.

Damn that Puritan legacy!

Annie said...

Montana- I agree that the mother has some trouble seperating morality and worries for physical health from those about career reprecussions.

What isn't mentioned by Amy is that the young woman is clearly intelligent. She graduated with honors from a "good" school. She obviously is aware of what she's doing, and has made a choice to do it, and hide it from her mother. She should have an opportunity to explain her motivations.

Yeah, maybe it'll hurt her career opportunities, but if she's an exhibitionist it might be worth it to her.