Service of Boundaries—Walls if you Wish

March 4th, 2019

Categories: Boundaries, Privacy, Secrets, Walls


I thought of several other headlines for this post–Service of: “Too Much Information;” “I Don’t Want to Know,” or “Too Much to Ask.”

There are many things I don’t want to know and whether my parents had affairs and/or with whom, is one of them. I also would not want to be in any way involved.

How did this come up?


My husband asked me last week, after Michael Cohen testified at the congressional hearing: “What would you think if my father had me pay for illicit affairs or for the cover-ups?” I said, “WHAT?” He continued, “He didn’t, but I was shocked that Donald Trump, Jr. signed one of the checks Cohen presented in evidence about the Stormy Daniels cover-up.”


Authors—Susan Cheever for one—write about their parents’ sexual lives, which I think is not their story to tell. Some children resent that they were kept in the dark if they learn of a parent’s affairs after the death of the father or mother in question.

Should there be no secrets between parents and their children? Am I old fashioned because I welcome them? Do you draw the line as to what you’d ask your child to do for you or what you’d do for a parent?



7 Responses to “Service of Boundaries—Walls if you Wish”

  1. ASK Said:

    Did you see the WSJ article about the 2 sisters in the WSJ who had DNA tests and through a data bank, ultimately found out about the affairs of their parents. To what purpose? They no longer speak to each other, and while they may have found other family members, their close-knit relationship is in a shambles. I do agree with you: some secrets are not worth uncovering.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    How did I miss that? Right up my alley as I despise those DNA tests. Never trusted they’d stick to ancestry and sure ’nuff, they are now entering the health realm. One big DUH.

    A man of the cloth–now long gone and ancient when he told me–shared a dicey situation he encountered. [He mentioned no names and I didn’t know anybody in his community anyway.] Well regarded members of the congregation were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The children asked for some document which he didn’t want to find–though he had–for the surprise party they were planning because the actual date of the parent’s marriage was different from the date they chose to celebrate for half a century. Their firstborn’s birthday was a few months after the real date and in the day the family would have been mortified and devastated to learn this. I can’t recall precisely what he did but he didn’t want the facts to leak and he made sure that they didn’t.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Here is the link to the Wall Street Journal article ASK mentioned in her comment:

  4. Martha Takayama Said:

    In general boundaries are useful. Not overstepping them certainly prevents negative consequences. In social and professional interaction they are related to manners and should not be overstepped to avoid unpleasant consequences.

    As for relationships between parents and children there generally exist tacit unwritten boundaries which reflect respect, recognition of differences in age and values, discretion, sensibility and consideration. They may very greatly according to the composition of the family and its values. However, not all information needs to be shared as if one were conducting an advertising campaign. Unnecessary knowledge that can embarrass or hurt is best not shared. I would not want to know or share things my parents wished to keep secret. Such knowledge makes for indelible discomfort.

    I think there is a certain cruelty to Susan Cheever’s need to write about her father’s secret life.

    Our amazingly unbalanced and vulgar President always steps beyond reasonable or polite boundaries often to “share” information that is only lies. In Michael Cohen’s hearings we the public were subjected to much more information than one would ordinarily want to know about much ugly and illegal behavior. However, the outrageous, unmitigated repulsive behavior of the President himself, made us have to sit through the litany of behavior that went beyond any polite limits, as the rest of our government and much of our public searches for truth.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Others have quoted DJT and although anecdotal, his disrespect of his namesake is legendary. Having his son sign a cover-up check to a bimbo underscores the point.

    As for Cheever, she might have been angry at her mom or dad. She wrote about her dad after he died but while her mother was still alive. Cruel is a good word for it.

    DJT doesn’t behave like a person who respects himself much. Were we not the victims who will pay for his shenanigans I’d call him a tragic figure.

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    Everyone, from world leader to peasant, has a right to privacy, regardless of their relation to others. That’s my take, and I couldn’t care diddly what relatives, friends or public figures do in their spare time. It’s called minding one’s business. Nothing old fashioned about using common sense.

    Others think differently, not realizing that dumping intimate details upon others can be highly disconcerting. Such revelations can also turn around and bite at the worst moments. Whoever coined the term “Silence is Golden” might have known all too well what he/she was talking about.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Amen re silence is golden.

    People share intimate info on social media and as long as they tell their own stories it’s on them. Sometimes they spill beans on others. Not good.

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