Living in Germany and having a German family means I have to adapt to the lifestyle, culture, and values of Germans. As a result, I had two important lessons in life I learned from them that left me stunned.
We all are aware that whatever happens or comes up; we must let no one know before our family does. It seems cliche, right? But for me, it’s a no and this is why.
1) Family comes first
Family comes first because the family is not an important thing, it’s everything. As Michael J. Fox once said.
The Filipino culture. For Filipinos like me, for example, when we have something so exciting that happened, say finally got pregnant, partner’s proposal or the like, plus with the existence of social media nowadays, we can’t wait to tell the world about it.
It’s not bad, isn’t it? We just tend to forget the essence of the family first.
On the other hand, the notion of the family comes first is profoundly obeserved by my German family.
A good example is, two years ago, my husband proposed to me in Sri Lanka. Due to excitement, I notified him ” can I tell my friends?” and this was his then answer, ” sure, but let the family first know”.
For Germans, letting the family first know about any kind of news that matters is considered respectful.
2)Keep your privacy
Germans value privacy to a great extent. Too many occasions that my German family wants to keep almost everything in private.
Buying a new house, getting pregnant, among others are the best examples of events my German family would never want to broadcast about.
Personal privacy is also paramount for Germans to maintain the socio-relational boundaries between people’s professional and personal lives.
Whatever we are doing, talking about, or discussing together within the family, it must be kept private.
While growing up in a culture where openness is a norm and highly acceptable,
Alfredo Roces and Grace Roces wrote in their book, Cultureshock, Philippines. “The Filipino help will not understand your desire for privacy as it is not a need that gets any kind of priority in Philippine society” Filipinos grow up with ever-present company; parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, nannies and other househelp”
It is easy to be unreserved, about almost everything that we sometimes lose our sense of privacy and forgetting to let the people matter to us the most know first.
I have sure had to adjust and accustomed my German family’s traditions and values that are relatively different from mine.
This does not mean to say though, that I don’t respect it; in fact, I immensely do and admire it. Accordingly, when I wanted to post something on social media that involved them, I ask their permission first. I will always respect their preference as they do for me.
And I will leave you with this German quote about personal relationships and privacy that anyone can relate to.
“Das geht mich nichts an” (That’s not my business)