I've been mulling something over ever since my 4th of July family reunion, when not one, but two cousins both said nearly the exact same thing: "I was so glad to read your book. I'd always wondered about your life, but I didn't want to pry."
I don't know if this phenomenon is unique to my family or if it's more of a greater cultural thing, but I was definitely raised with the theory, "If they want me to know, they'll tell me."
I do not subscribe to that theory.
At the same reunion my cousin's 19-year-old daughter, having just finished her freshman year of college and considering a career as an OT, also read my book, and asked if she could ask me a few questions. "How can therapists be most helpful, and what is okay and not okay to ask parents?"
Aren't those good questions? I answered that it had way more to do with intent, than with word choice. The "wrong" question with the right intent, is still the right question. You can easily tell the difference between idle curiosity, and genuine interest, and all is forgiven when someone is on the same team. As far as what therapists can do to be most helpful, again, conveying their intent to be most helpful, is most helpful. Opening that door to being someone the parent and/or child can go to for support, ideas, strategies, problem-solving, guidance, a kick-in-the-%$#, whatever the case may be, that is most helpful.
Recently I saw an old friend. She and I are part of a foursome that gets together several times a year, and has for 24 years. We have been through a lot together, shared births, deaths, divorces, re-marriages, new jobs, retirements, and all of life's ups and downs. Or at least I thought so. I just learned that some pretty big things have been omitted over the years, I am sure it's to protect the privacy of others, I am sure it's because those things are hard to talk about and are a buzz kill when you're getting together for drinks and some laughs. I am sure that the three of us also failed to "pry" enough. We took this friend at face value when she said things like, "Great!" "Fine!" "The same!"
Maybe it's true that she didn't want us to know, so she didn't tell us, and then when she did want us to know, she did tell us. Maybe the most helpful thing we could have done was held space for her all these years until the burden was too much to bear and the cost of not telling was greater than the cost of telling.
I hope so.