Carolyn Hax: Sister-in-law has right to privacy

The Washington PostMay 9, 2014 

Carolyn: My brother's wife is pregnant and very difficult. First, she took weeks to even tell me that I was going to be an aunt. Then, she asked me not to tell anyone, including my own sons, until she was further along. It took a few more weeks until she would "let" my sons know, and then she told them herself! When I wanted to take a picture of how she told them, she asked me not to put it on Facebook. What do I say to her to let her know how rude and selfish she's being?

EXCLUDED FAMILY

Whose body is this? Whose fetus is this? Whose news is this? Whose decision is this on how, when and with whom the news will be shared? Whose job would it be to retract the good news far and wide if she miscarried after she "let" the news spread unchecked?

I can't say I'm a fan of the highly controlled news release, but that preference applies to no one but me, and to no one's news but mine; your sister-in-law's comfort zone is what governs the release of her news.

So, to identify the person who's being "very difficult" (and self-centered, and, if you're pressuring her or complaining to others in the family circle, rude), you need a mirror. Your sister-in-law is not having a baby just to entertain your children or provide you with the perfect social-media moment. Your place in this life event is squarely on the sidelines.

Hi, Carolyn: My current boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year and a half and we've decided he is going to move in with me next month. As exciting as this is for us, I'm less excited about telling my mom, for fear of a negative reaction. She may come to visit me this summer and I don't know if I should tell her before she arrives or after.

COHABITATING

Besides postponing your discomfort, what exactly will you accomplish by delaying this talk with your mom? As far as I can tell, you'll merely add the insult of hiding something from her to her perceived injury of your making choices she'd rather you didn't make.

If you're ready to do it, you're ready to own it.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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