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Family Privacy

Family boundary rules play a significant part in partners' coordination of private information. So much so that before entering into a partner relationship, each person brings with her or him specific boundary management rules that are inherited or learned from the way their parents managed such information. Similar to passing on rituals, parents often hand down family boundary access rules.

Karpel (1980) argues that for family secrets, there are those that are kept internally and those that are kept within the family as a whole but not given to outsiders. Similarly, members as a whole may develop an orientation to privacy and related boundary rules that apply to managing private information not only internally within the family, but also externally to others outside of the family. These family privacy orientations are passed down from one generation to the next. In general, families may be more open than closed, or they may be secretive. Sometimes, whether family members reveal these secrets often depends on the function of keeping the secret, their level of family satisfaction, and the relationship they have with the targeted confidant (Vangelisti and Caughlin 1997). For the most part, families expect a certain degree of privacy so that they can test out ideas, opinions, or beliefs in a more secure environment (Berardo 1974). Nevertheless, each family has its own way of defining the boundaries of privacy.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsSelf-Disclosure - Gender Differences, Family Privacy, Parents And Child Privacy - Conclusion