Hi Sam, I appreciate your sensitivity in understanding that this assignment may bring up topics we’d prefer not to share with the group.
In my case, as an ESOL teacher, I’ve gotten asked a lot ‘what do Americans think about ________?’ I prefer to give them a sense of the wide range of perspectives on these issues rather than telling them my own religious or political views.
On a personal level, I feel comfortable answering questions like ‘Are you married? Do you have kids?’ but I don’t feel comfortable trying to explain why my husband and I have chosen not to have kids (especially since that’s such an odd concept to people from many other cultures).
Questions about..do I have kids?…how many?..cannot talk about my deceased son…ive also been instructed by the prison not to share ANY personal info..so as to not make my family vulnerable….so my disclosures are about my feelings or life events that do not reveal info about family…and it helps me to keep focus on the kids, instead of getting lost in my own story!
Hi all – first of all, if you asked me for some of the mindfulness games that I use as a part of my program – please e-mail me: email@example.com and I will pass those along. I don’t have a group e-mail to send to everyone.
OK – on to the hot seat… I will generally disclose to adolescents that I have suffered with anxiety and insomnia (as a by-product of anxiety) since I was in high school. I always put this in the context of why I practice mindfulness now and how it has changed my reaction to anxiety. I disclose what anxiety drove me to do in high school like skip classes, or have relationship issues, or freak-out about things outside of my control.
I also disclose relationship issues between my teen son and me – as often they are relevant to the issues that teens face with their own parents.
But I am not willing to disclose experiences with drugs, or sex.
I’m curious since we are reading each other’s comments how often any of you are asked about your political orientation and if you find it “skillful” to disclose how you vote, or what your political stances are on issues that do affect adolescents. I am actually asked about my politics – and I do share… but going back to the questions: is it in the best interested of the young person… I suppose I am assuming yes if I believe that they feel my opinions relate to theirs and support their concerns… but it could go in a directionally bad way if they don’t. Just curious about your thoughts.
I work with a lot of kiddos and teens who have experienced a variety of traumatic experiences. I am open to answering questions about my own experiences without giving any detail… if that makes sense. For example, one group I’m working with right now has proclaimed that they are the “daddy issues” group. When I walked into group one day, they were proclaiming this and were on a roll with asking staff members “do you have daddy issues?” I was willing to reply “yes” and when they fished I replied “my dad is an alcoholic” but I did not, and would not ever give details or stories related to his alcoholism or the consequences he has had due to this.
Things I will absolutely not talk about with my kids/teens related to: my spiritual beliefs, my political beliefs, my sex life. It’s weird to see this typed out, but it’s amazing how often teens try to pry this information out of staff in group – especially politics as of late.
Anna, to respond to your question about handling political discussion – “It depends”. I tend to reply with “There are always things that concern me related to politics. This is why I believe it is important to advocate for causes you think are important, and to vote accordingly.” I like to throw the ball back in their court and have a “how has this impacted you”/”what can you do to advocate for yourself” conversation and to process with them if they are being serious, or redirecting the conversation if they are antagonizing their peers .
I am willing to disclose some of the experiences I have gone through with growing up (parental expectations, school, work …) and with raising my teens (behavior … ) as well as some actions I have seen in youths I have worked with that can serve as lessons or encouragement.
I will not disclose intimate experiences nor family discord nor political preference, for example.
If I were to be put on the spot, I hope that I do not get questions about my intimate experiences. Also, I may or may not answer questions about politics depending on where the question is coming from.
First of all the information provided in this unit was great. Thank you Sam for giving real life examples. I think that self-introspection is a must. I think I would have to analyze the situation, the client and the feelings the question is provoking in me. I think that every case is different and unique. Based on the given situation I will know what direction to take. Just as long as I stay grounded and aware of me and my young person I’m working with.
I am comfortable disclosing in some areas but I am sure if I were in the hot seat my students would want to ask about my sex life. I am not willing to share details about my life in that area with them. I deal with questions about my life as a teen, my family and my friends.
I am willing to disclose almost anything. I wouldn’t go into details with certain topics, such as sex life or sex partners, nor would I talk about my body in a sexual manner. This is relevant because I identify as trans/gender non-conforming and most of the time, especially youth will ask, “are you a boy or a girl?” or sometimes, “do you have boy parts or girl parts?” Unless I was in a one-on-one session with another trans/gender questioning youth, I wouldn’t disclose about my body and even in this situation, I would have to really consider the specifics as to the context.
I feel that my other life experiences have led me to where I am today and disclosing about that wouldn’t be awkward. Again, I am not sure how much detail I would offer but in a “hot seat” situation, I would disclose as much as was appropriate.
I am comfortable disclosing in small ways about my family, and about my experiences growing up, and as a teen, and about some of my experiences as a parent, but not about drugs, sex life or religion. In my school setting, political orientation is generally not disclosed by teachers, but supporting all political beliefs is important, so asking questions such as: what do you think about that?how would you vote? why?, and what impact do you think a certain political viewpoint has on you? are helpful. In supporting these discussions, I sometimes disclose small bits of information about my political viewpoints, but mostly focus on keeping the connection with youth through these discussions, with a nonjudgmental attitude.
I will answer most questions, but like many of the others in our group I won’t answer questions about my sex life. I don’t feel that they need to know about my intimate life with my husband, especially since they know him and have a hard time keeping certain things to themselves. Most any other question I will answer.
Hey everyone! Went and had some fun to wash out the murder trial from my mind.
Hot seat…I will disclose quite a lot of things to youth, my issues with anxiety, my past with drugs but I am careful how much detail I go into because mostly just the acknowlegement that I had a youth of my own and am human with struggles is usually enough. I am not comfortable speaking about sex because that involves someone elses’ privacy as well as mine. I am also careful about when I disclose this information. I only respond to questions. I never offer information. If you are thinking of offering information that is usually when I am trying to get someone to accept or like me rather than an instance when I am serving the best needs of the youth.
These are very individual situations. I am careful not to share my story and turn things around making them about me rather than the youth I am listening to.
This is case by case; I don’t have a formula.
HI there, thanks for the opportunity to share…
So far, when self-disclosing comes up it is usually around what the young person is talking about. I usually feel comfortable disclosing bits of my life without going into details that at the moment feel won’t be useful.
ta for reading.
I am pretty open with my students about my past struggles as a youth and how I was able to turn my life around. I feel more comfortable talking about my life when I was younger than what my current struggles are now. I never answer questions about my sex life, how many men I’ve slept with etc although I will talk about sex and what a healthy and unhealthy relationship is. In certain situations I may talk about drug use but only if I believe that the student is trying to get a different perspective. My self disclosure really depends on the student/s I am working with and the particular setting/situation.
Depending on the situation, I would have to and have, made that decision on what to disclose. If I am in a whole classroom situation, then I will not go into any detail about substance abuse or details about sex life. It would not serve any advantage to do so. I will go into a little bit of disclosure about substance abuse in a 1:1 situation, but only if it is beneficial to the situation. I will not go into any details about my sex life, nor would I ask that of a student. That could be on a broad discussion, then again, only if it would benefit the situation, and the topic of sex life in any detail does not serve anyone well, unless you’re Gene Simmons.
Hi, folks –
Thanks to all who shared on this topic! I found it really valuable to read about your thoughts and personal processes around this issue.
For me, I would not disclose about my sexual experiences and/or partners (however, depending on the situation, I might be okay with answering a very low-detail question like “have you had sex?”). I would not be ready to discuss specifics of my own experience with abusive relationships; and would only entertain very basic detail around my immediate family (partner, and children, if/when we have them). I would not want to share anything that they would not want me to share about them.
I would be okay with disclosing some family history around my experiences as a youth, growing up with a single mom, etc.; okay with disclosing about loss/death, some political views, and some spiritual beliefs. Again, it would of course have pass that “three question” test on all fronts!
Working with elementary students as a school librarian, I am glad to share some information about my personal life, as well as any ideas or feelings about our story discussions but I’m very careful about what I share either on a 1:1 or in my classroom. For me, it is about the student(s), not about me.
I am willing to disclose… how I have handled experiences I have gone through with growing up including parental issues, life expectations and challenges with school. I do not typically go into detail about these experiences but will engage with how I felt because of an experience and how it impacted my behavior/emotions. I also like to share information about my education and journey to get to where I am.
I typically will not disclose… intimate experiences with partners or family experiences. I am willing to share opinions that I have on political issues, but do not disclose by political preference, this is also true for my religion and sexuality.
In the job I’m in now, I’ve had the most endearing relationships and have had many different types of disclosure conversations about my life.
The drugs example has come up several times throughout my career, and I’ve always been honest that I struggled with drugs, but I always pair it with my reasons for “why” I used, discussing self-medicating due to not dealing with my feelings, and what helped me vs what hurt me. I’ve always kept the focus on the healthy choices that helped me move my life forward, vs the unhealthy ways of handling stress and depression.
One of the biggest disclosures has been my husband, who has cancer. Every three months, we travel from Northern Michigan to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. So, every three months, I miss a whole week of school. Working with my building staff, we discussed not outright telling the students, but if there was any curiosity, that staff (if I was gone) or myself (if I was there) would let them know that my husband has an illness that needs constant attention, and we have to visit his doctors every so often to help him stay healthy. Most kids take this and just say something sweet, like I hope he’s ok, and they’ll sometimes ask me about him (if I’m absent for a day or gone at a conference, some will ask why I was gone, was it to take care of your husband, etc). But, some want to know more, they ask questions about the illness. Most times, they will start to talk about someone in their lives who had cancer, or who died of cancer. I’ve had kids ask me if my husband is going to die, and I’ve had to be ready for that question. Even before my husband was diagnosed, I worked at a summer camp for kids ages 4-15 who were diagnosed with cancer (Camp Catch a Rainbow). I’ve talked a lot about cancer, about the biology of it, the surgeries, the different treatments, etc., so it’s oddly something I’m ok discussing on a fairly regular basis (I also teach yoga at a cancer center). I’ve always felt in control on myself when talking about my husband with my work kids, and to date, all of them have had respect, honest curiosity, and it has helped rapport. So now, when I leave for our trips, I just let the kids know, ok, it’s time for me to go take care of Mr. Ryder, so make good choices, and I’ll be back in a week 🙂 It’s part of my life, just like they are part of my life. It makes up who I am, and that realness is something I feel they appreciate.
I should add! Not willing to disclose: personal sexual experiences. My students struggle with boundaries, and some of our students have sexual abuse backgrounds, both as victims and perpetrators. This is a topic that is off-limits for me, as to keep those student-staff boundaries strong. My program is 70 students k-12, with 90% being male. I’m a psychologist in the secondary wing, so I see boys 12-17.
Politics and religion/spirituality have been something we’ve discussed as a group, moreso from a lesson on acceptance. Kids have specifically asked about my religion because they all know I teach yoga, so sometimes I’m deemed the “hippie that doesn’t eat meat” haha 🙂 Again, I’m just honest with them and we usually have a reciprocal conversation about religion as a whole.
Over the last year, I’ve been working on being able to tell my story without getting emotional or going into too much detail. I still struggle at times. I think it would really depend on the age group of the people asking me the questions. I am more likely to be detailed with older youth and adults than I am with younger youth. I don’t like to disclose sexual information, but other than that, I am pretty open.
Working with young people has really been endearing. But the idea of some questions that are asked lives one feeling really at the edge.
Some of the questions I dread to be asked is if I had had other boyfriends before getting married because the true answer lives me looking very naive or unadventurous. Another question is if I have been faithful to my husband or has he been to me. These have been questions that have caught off balance.
This exercise was a bit challenging for me. I am a pretty open book, and lean towards keeping kids in the “know” as well. For me there is not much that is just absolutely off limits. I am like others and would not want to talk about my sex life because I don’t see how that would be appropriate, especially in working with male students since I am female. Outside of that I believe this is something that I will have to feel out on individual basis. My comfort level with what I would disclose will inevitably fluctuate based on the energy and reason I feel a student is asking, and my own emotional well being that day. What I mean to say is that I believe the most important part of self-disclosure is mindfulness, really pausing to reflect why I believe the student is asking, how I am feeling about the question, and the full present moment context. When fully present it is more likely that I will respond appropriately to that individual moment. Each opportunity to self-disclose will be so unique- just like every moment of life is truly unique. To respond appropriately it takes being fully present with that unique situation, person, and self in that moment.
I believe that there are topics that I will be fully able to talk about on some days, and not on others. For example, I lost my dad 3 years ago, suddenly due to drug overdose. He had been on and off of drugs my entire life, but the last 10 years of his life he was clean, and we had a great relationship this time spanned from my senior year in college up through getting married. He passed when I was 27. Grief is such a unique experience for us all, so I don’t feel that the moment I meat someone who has lost a parent or someone close I should disclose this as a way to connect. I always lean towards giving it some time, so that the person can share with me their own unique experience of lost. If there is a moment of connection or inspiration where I feel it would be comfort to someone I may share that aspect of my own loss. Most days I feel I could handle speaking on my own experience of loss, as I have really grieved, and found a lot of healing in my own yoga, mindfulness and other contemplative practices. I have even grown to really appreciate the gift of having experience the fullness of love through the experience of loss. I fell that this loss in some ways has been such a gift to deepen my appreciation and awareness of life. However, there are days where my own grief has resurfaced in a new or unexpected way, or I might hear a song my dad used to sing that triggers strong emotions. On that particular day even if someone shares something that is is similar to my own experience I would not share, because I would need to first fully feel and process my own emotions. So, this is what I mean by being present and understanding my own emotional state, and understanding the unique moment in front of me. Not only will each kids and opportunity to self-disclose be unique, but my own inner life will vary day to day. This is why I don’t feel I can definitively say well this is just never on the table for me to talk about, or this is always okay to talk about.
In the past I have definitely felt I overshared. Because I am an open book, and tend toward self-disclosure I think I will need to really hone my skill at asking the second question. I feel that this is something I could hone in any speaking situation or sharing situation even in my personal relationships. This is actually something I have been seeing more clearly as a need in my life. I feel like the times I have shared something, and it didn’t feel right it is because I was not fully aware of what my intention was behind it, what purpose it was serving for me. I love this activity for getting me to think further on this. I feel the taking a moment to pause and really before sharing how I feel, or sharing an experience of something, or even an opinion this would be so beneficial to do in any situation!
Again I feel that instead of saying “well this is definitely on the table, and this is something I will never share” it is actually more authentic an exercise for me to begin bringing that 3 question pause into my own life, personal and professional, now so that I can fully be aware and present and respond appropriately to each unique situation that presents itself.
Is there more I need to do for this exercise? I have the worksheet, and wasn’t sure if I need to turn that in?
Since bullying is so prevalent in middle school, I am open about being bullied in middle school but do not go into detail about what or how. If I am asked directly about my experiences with drugs, sexual orientation, religion, etc, I ask them why it is important to them if I . . .. Then go onto follow their lead into what is behind the question.
I don’t disclose about sexual experiences because they are deemed private. I also am selective about faith and spiritual experiences as this is very personal and highly subjective. If appropriate and helpful I will disclose that i have lost family to suicide. It is important for me to understand their motivation to the question and their ability to handle the answer with their peers or public ally.
I do not disclose sexual orientation, I do not disclose about my own personal children. I may tell stories about them but often without their real names. We often have activities where my family might attend and I do not want either parties the students or my children to feel uncomfortable. I do share at a base level the trauma that I have experienced that is similar to their own, even in that I do not overshare.
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