My son used to be what I call an "over-sharer." He shared too much information with people about his personal thoughts and feelings. In many ways, it's an admirable quality because he thinks that over-sharing is the same as honesty.
However, long ago, I learned the benefits of having personal boundaries. In fact, when the "Jerry Springer" producer called to ask if I'd be a guest on the show in the 1990s to talk about my college friend's problems, I told her I would under the condition they maintained my "personal boundaries of privacy." The producer hung up on me. I had never ever heard of the "The Jerry Springer Show" at the time, but evidently a friend thought she could get a free flight if she volunteered us to be on the show.
It's a lot trickier to teach a child how to maintain personal boundaries of privacy than to have your own boundaries. But as a parent, I had to learn to be a better communicator so my children would have greater success in their relationships.
According to an article by Kids in the Know, parents can help their children by keeping them out of earshot of adult conversations or arguments. The article recommends making sure children have their own space for their things.
Teaching by example
The best way I was able to teach my son to cut back on his tendency to over-share was by being a better example. Whenever I found myself going into too much detail, I'd catch myself and tell him, "That may be TMI (too much information)." I also started realizing I should talk about my problems with my sister when I had privacy rather than on the phone with my kids listening.
Dealing with social media
My children are growing up in the social media era. They are encouraged to share their photos on Facebook, Twitter away their time, email and text every move of the day. I told my son sometimes it's better to be "old school" and just talk to people when you need to communicate. Too many things get lost in translation when you text, email and instant message.
Being a good listener
As my son learned some boundaries, he found he could actually be a better listener. As a teenager, he could make friends more easily by listening instead of talking so much. A lot of people want to be the center of attention. Good listeners are hard to find. By learning to be a better listener, he became more popular. He learned to ask thoughtful questions instead of always turning the conversation back on himself.
I'm hopeful that by having better boundaries, my son will make a better husband and father one day. No one likes the stoic men who never show their emotions, but over-sharing is not good either. As parents we are always trying to teach our children the proper balance. Enjoy a slice of dessert after dinner, but don't overeat. Catch up on sleep, but don't sleep in until noon. Do your homework, but don't become obsessed with grades. I guess being a well-rounded adult is about having balance.
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