Dear Amy: Recently, my brother was hospitalized for a serious mental health issue.
My sister is an avid social media user. She was all over her social media accounts, sharing the details, which were very unpleasant. She “tagged” his name in posts.
I felt she violated his privacy and told her so. She says she is bringing attention to an important mental health issue. My feeling is that should be my brother’s choice and he is currently in no shape to make it. We’re at an impasse and wonder about your thoughts. -- Private Sister
Dear Sister: This is not debatable. Your sister is violating your brother’s privacy and may well be damaging his recovery by betraying him.
Tagging him on posts invites others (including strangers) to weigh in, and some may choose to do so in ways that are not supportive or helpful and may in fact compromise his recovery now or reputation later.
Furthermore, it doesn’t sound as if your brother is in a position to clarify, educate or even make a statement on his own behalf.
Most readers are aware of the HIPAA statute, which protects confidential medical information. I contacted Abner Weintraub, a HIPAA expert and consultant in Orlando, Fla., to see if this violates the statute.
He responded: “One of the primary purposes of HIPAA is to protect confidential medical data. But HIPAA only applies to a narrow category and unless the person disclosing this medical information is a medical provider or agency regulated by HIPAA, the statute does not apply. Private citizens are not regulated by this law.”
Common decency, however, should regulate our behavior. This crosses the line.
Dear Amy: Fifteen years ago my wife fell in love with a married man. We went to see a marriage counselor but it didn’t make any difference. Our kids were quite young at the time and instead of getting a divorce, I decided to stay in the marriage. My kids were involved in religious activities and sports teams, which they would’ve missed out on because my wife isn’t religious or into sports.
I don’t believe my wife is in love with the other man anymore, but she’s not in love with me either. She doesn’t really like doing anything with me (like going to a movie or out to dinner, etc.), and if we do go out with one of the kids, she treats me like a third wheel.
Our youngest daughter recently graduated from high school, and now I’m considering getting a divorce. I love my wife but don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. I know I’m going to have to talk to my kids about the divorce but what would do you recommend I tell my kids — other than that I love them very much? -- Sad Dad
Dear Dad: Now that your youngest has graduated from high school, you can expect the dynamic with your wife to change, for better or worse. Before giving up on your marriage, however, I hope you will try counseling again.
Do not discuss divorce with your children unless you are definite about it and have chosen to separate. Your children have noticed the dynamic between their parents through time. They will see that you have been marginalized over the years (and they have occasionally pushed you to the margins, too).
You needn’t have martyred yourself for your children’s activities — and don’t present yourself as a victim. All you need to say is, “Your mother and I have not been happy together for a long time. We love you very much, but our own relationship isn’t working out.”
Dear Amy: I loved your quote to the woman who wanted to dance (“She who dances most wins”).
I keep a book filled with interesting quotes that I vainly drop into conversations now and then, and you’re in it.
If your career ever goes to pot and you wind up living on the streets in an old refrigerator box, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that you’ve gone down in posterity. -- A Fan
Dear Fan: My place in your personal quote Hall of Fame would be cold comfort from a refrigerator box, but I appreciate the sentiment, and thank you for quoting.