Today was a hallmark event. Today my 11 year old left her new diary downstairs in the living room. I picked it up (not realizing what it was) and skimmed through it. Afterwards I flipped to the front page where I read, “This is Haley’s diary. Do not read!” Just as I closed it, Haley came downstairs and saw me holding it and with a shy smile, rushed over to take it from me and tell me I shouldn’t read it. This is the first time she has ever been secretive.
The strange part about what happened was that I had already read it. There wasn’t anything in the diary other than her daily activities, who she talked to, what they said, what games she played that day and things of that nature. Everything I read in the dairy were things she had already told me. When I pick the girls up from school, they always tell me about their day and anything interesting that happened. At home they play their computer games in the room while I’m there next to them. When they play with their stuffed animals in the house, it’s right there near me. I know the boy my daughter likes. I know the boys that like her. I know the boys her friends like. I know what they say to each other.
The lack of any ‘secret’ information in her diary made me wonder why she wouldn’t want anyone to read it. Is it just the idea of privacy that she feels she needs?
I had to wonder what it is about privacy that is so important to us all. Why do we all feel the need to keep some things to ourselves? I’m not talking about identity or identity theft or government monitoring of our actions – I mean the more intimate sense of what we keep to ourselves. Is it inherent in our nature to want to have a sense of something that is ours and ours alone? Does it add to our view of ourselves as individuals or is it merely a need to separate ourselves from others to prevent being hurt?
At what point does privacy become a part of our lives? I know at a certain age, kids decide they want privacy when changing clothes or bathing – this is expected and encouraged anywhere from age 3 and up. Privacy concerning our thoughts and feelings, however, is a different matter. Is the need to keep thoughts and feelings a natural development – or is it something we encourage and expect?
What about everyone else? At what age did you start keeping a diary? Or stop telling your parents/siblings everything?
Is some degree of privacy necessary to participate in polite society?