I attend a support group for parents of 'difficult' adolescents. Which isn't really what it is at all, incidentally. All of the parents who attend this group have kids with some type of mental or emotional disorder. We have depressed kids, suicidal kids, bipolar kids, kids with rare genetic disorders, kids who just don't fit any mold. The thing all these kids have in common is that they've been hospitalized, many multiple times, because they were either a danger to themselves or a danger to others. Oh, and they all have parents who are tearing their hair out in frustration trying to figure out just what to do.
We're a fairly tight knit group of moms. We not only support each other in our quest to find the best care for each of our respective kids, we attend each other's school meetings, visits to special programs, and just to hang out and give each other hugs. In the short time I've been part of this group, I've made a good friend, and I've gotten a lot of great advice. It's really a fabulous support group.
So what's the but?
Today, for the first time, we had a dad come to our meeting. It wasn't a big deal that he was male, as we're all grown ups. He is a single dad and he introduced us to his daughter (figuratively) who is a hurting buckaroo for a variety of reasons. We all encouraged him to take certain types of actions, we listened to his story, we were more than supportive to him, we didn't scare him off, and he promised to return.
And the problem is?
Oy! Privacy. My favorite issue. His daughter and my son were in a program together. A program that encourages the kids to share their issues with the small group. What my son knows of this girl is not essentially what the father reported to our group. This makes me VERY uncomfortable. Because I know things about her that her father doesn't, from the things my son reported. But it gets even more uncomfortable. While my son was in this program, another friend of his who we'll call Dirty (because he is) was also at the program. Dirty and my son have known each other for years. Dirty and this man's daughter evidentially had it in for each other, and when Dirty came over during this time, he talked a lot about this particular girl. Now, I had no clue I'd EVER meet this girl's parent. They live hours away from us. Who would have thunk it? But damn... the girl who was a big topic of conversation in our house for weeks is this guy's daughter. Doesn't that suck?
I know I need to keep my mouth shut. I'm not completely idiotic. But I feel incredibly uncomfortable knowing some things that her father SHOULD know, but apparently doesn't. His daughter is in a lot of emotional pain for reasons totally unknown to him. But not to me. And if that doesn't bite, I don't know what does.
That's one of the problems with your kids being in programs. So much is shared, some of it the truth, some of it false, but a lot of it just plain painful. They're encouraged to get their pain out their, to acknowledge it and then move on. The groups help these kids to learn coping mechanisms, to recognize where their behavior comes from, and to be able to grow from their problems. Those are all good things. But the problem is that the kids gossip both amongst themselves, and they often come home and bitch about the other kids in the program. Which is exactly what happened here. My kid and Dirty weren't outing this girl. They were talking about how tough she was to deal with, and during those discussions, personal things were revealed.
So, here I am, brimming with information I wish I didn't have and not knowing what to do with it. Any advice?