Family Secrets

I can remember when I was a little girl and my parents would be talking about something in hushed tones and they’d tell us that “this stays in the family.” We knew that this was something we weren’t supposed to talk about outside our house. It wasn’t really a big deal but back then, we listened. I’m not sure with the way things are today that would work. Now if you tell a kid not to say anything they go to a teacher or someone and the next thing you know you have CPS at your door. Of course these things weren’t abuse or anything they were just “family secrets” usually.

Who is having money problems or who’s having an affair or who’s gay or who got locked away for alcoholism were all things back then that people just didn’t talk about. I think a lot of that stuff has changed over time and now we talk more about things but really, sometimes I still think some of this stuff is better left to the family.

I was watching The Talk one day and they were talking about aunt’s not being an aunt but was really the mom or grandpa is really your uncle and stuff like that. I don’t have anything that juicy in my family. But the fact is there have always been family secrets.

Here you have Ronald Reagan Jr writing a “tell all” about his dad’s Alzheimer’s and apparently spilling family secrets and older brother Michael is telling him to keep his mouth shut. He wants his dad to have dignity even in death.

I think I agree with him. I’m not sure what good it does for him to tell all this stuff now. If he did have the beginning stages of it while in office, what good does it do to tell this now? It can’t change anything so I have to agree with Michael and wish our former President didn’t have to have this dirty laundry aired.

What do you think? Do you think once a person dies, they aren’t owed the privacy anymore?

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13 Responses to Family Secrets

  1. Laura says:

    This is a tough one… I can’t remember ever having any “family secrets”. I do remember my parents talking in hushed tones about things, but they never said anything to me like “this stays in the family.”

    I can totally see a kid going running to a teacher about it, though. Our society is so “anti-secret” now, but unfortunately, it doesn’t allow for subtlety. For example, if dad is a recovering alcoholic, he and mom may not want that broadcasted around, but it’s reasonable to talk to a child about the situation. To answer questions for him, like why daddy doesn’t have a beer with all the other daddies when we have picnics. But you don’t want little Johnny discussing it on the playground with his buddies, either. But if you say, “this is a secret,” or “don’t tell,” then the whole indoctrination thing from school kicks in… the “we don’t keep secrets. If someone tells you to keep a secret, you need to tell someone in authority.”

    So what’s a kid to do? An older kid would get it. I’m not sure a younger one would. And Josh is at that age where you just don’t know. Maybe he understands, maybe he doesn’t, and God help you if you ask what the “secret” actually is. Brace yourself, because you’re likely to hear a story about ninja hamsters battling mutant vultures with axes, lightsabers and chocolate cupcakes.

  2. kweenmama says:

    I think it would depend on what the secret is. Alzheimers…not an earthshattering secret, so why bring it up? A secret such as molestation that has caused damage…if it helps the person to reveal it, then do it!

  3. SKL says:

    We have lots of skeletons in our closets, mainly because our family is big and diverse. And my mom was not shy about saying stuff in front of us. My dad was a little more guarded, but my mom would blab everything when he wasn’t there. I think we knew not to blab certain stuff, even though I don’t recall being told not to. I mean, if you know your dad is not proud of something, you know not to shame him by repeating it, right?

    As for the Reagan thing. I don’t understand why someone would want to tell stuff like that. I’ve known people with Alzheimers, and let’s face it, it isn’t pretty. Forgetting to go to the restroom until it’s too late, for instance. It could happen to any of us. If it happened to me, I would not want anyone to know outside of my closest caregivers – and then only because I wouldn’t have a choice. And not just before I was dead or before I was too senile to realize it. I assume this “author” would feel the same way if it were he who had a mentally debilitating disease. So I am not sure what he seeks to gain here. No, I don’t think he should do this. Leave it to ordinary, unknown people to write books about what Alzheimers does to individuals and families. Don’t sully an image that was hard-won and greatly deserved.

    • Laura says:

      The Reagan thing… this book is written by Ron Reagan, one of two sons. I don’t remember a lot about him, I was like 10 when Reagan was in office, but I do remember that he was the “dancer” and the one who didn’t agree with his dad. It was a big deal when he came out and went on talk shows on TV saying how he didn’t agree with him. Seems like nothing has changed. He’s still disagreeing with his dad, and apparently with the rest of the family. There are those who are saying that the stuff in his book isn’t true – that there is no proof of Alzheimer’s while Reagan was in the WH. So I don’t know what to believe. What I know is that it’s pretty crappy for his son to come out trashing him like this. It’s one thing to do it while he’s alive – you don’t agree, fine, don’t agree. Even if it’s publicly, which I think is kind of cheap, at least the other guy has a chance to rebut. This, to me, is just looking like the “kid” wants the last word. And on the 100th birthday no less. Classless.

  4. Joy says:

    I had a few gay people in my family. They’re not with us anymore but back when we were told it was very uncommon for people to talk about gay people so we never talked about that. Paul’s mom also had a brother who was mentally retarded in some way and he was sent to live in an institution and they never talked about him. I’ve often wondered what it was that he really had. People got so embarrassed back then of stuff like that.

  5. Nikki says:

    My family (mom and dads side) most certainly did have secrets, and I think they still do. My dads side was to protect people from other people and their family image. I, along with my cousin last year uncovered a lot of those secrets. I was a little sad, and I almost felt as if maybe I shouldn’t know these things.

    Some things I really do feel are better left untouched. Leave them in the closet, and let certain people rest in peace, and leave them to be remembered the way they wanted. My family is of no importance and I don’t think I’d want it in a book, so I can imagine how Michael feels. I think his brother should respect that, and his father.

  6. Karen Joy says:

    I totally dont think he should have written the book.I agree with brother Micheal.I dont understand why he needs to air that now,whats he getting out of it?(besides money)I loved my parents too much to think of doing such a thing.Theyre gone,leave it be!

  7. SKL says:

    Interesting thought, though – what kind of skeletons will my daughters find in my closets, and what will they think / say about them? I have the usual odd relations, but what about me personally? And them personally – will they dig up their pre-adoption history (the part I don’t even know) and what will that be like? And, will they come up with wrong assumptions to piece together things that seem confusing? Will they go public with any of it? Hmm….

    My kids have really good memories, and they are already reminding me of stuff I’d rather forget. I may be in for an interesting ride.

  8. mssc54 says:

    My Uncle knocked up a girl in the Philippens durint WWII. I’m actually Facebook friends with her daughter/granddaughter. Our roots are in the boyous of Louisiana (Cajun Country). TRULY, TRULY a different way of life down there.

    Since mom and dad were both Cajuns they speak Cajun French which came in real handy when they wanted to openly talk about stuff they didn’t want us to know about…. especially around Christmas!

  9. Phyllis says:

    I think it’s wrong to trash a person, living or dead. If laws are currently being broken, yes, go to the authorities the wrongdoer should be prosecuted. However this type of stuff should just be left alone! Pres. Reagan did a lot of good while in the WH. Did he make some mistakes? Probably, who doesn’t. I remember when the tabloids were all printing that Ron and Nancy consulted psychics before making decisions. Do any of you remember that stuff? Or how about the headlines stating that Pres. Bush was a recovering alcoholic? Let’s face it, once they’re in office (and remember that we actually vote to put them there), it’s a little too late to bring that stuff up. I say, skeletons in the closet should be allowed to remain there unless laws are currently being broken. The past cannot be changed, leave it alone!

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