It's never easy for a parent to keep a secret from their children, but sometimes it's the best thing to do. They'll constantly have to live with the pain and shame of lying to children sons and daughters, but some moms and dads don't see any other way to keep things going. They can only hope their past doesn't come back to haunt them.
The people in the following stories know this all too well, as they recently shared on a Reddit thread asking parents to reveal the most damaging and shameful secret they are keeping from their children. And while the lies might be terrible and have the potential to rip apart everything they know and love, these parents are willing to take that chance in order to allow their children to have just a shred of innocence before that too is ripped away. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"The baby brother she keeps asking for has caused so much heart break.
I had a miscarriage and every time my daughter asks when she's getting a baby brother, I feel like I've been kicked in the gut.
I made the decision to keep this from my daughter because she does not need the heart break to change her little world. She's 6 years old, I know she would be able to understand what has happened but I'd rather she stayed oblivious and happy than grieve a baby she didn't know about. I might tell her when she's an adult but I also don't want her to be upset about how her innocent question makes me feel.
She doesn't have to know that her normal childhood wish makes me feel like so bad. I decided that she also doesn't have to grieve this.
Telling her would add so much upset to her little world that I'd rather watch her grow up happy and totally oblivious than have a change in her just because something she says makes me think about the baby I never met."
"I don't want the kids to know just how abusive their biological father was to me and how neglectful he was of our eldest yet dependent on her emotionally. Also, that he never wanted a son and that he never had any interest in anything to do with our second born.
My biggest fear is them seeing exactly what he did to me though...they don't notice the way my heart wants to leap out of my chest when there's a knock on the door. They think I won't let them play alone in the front yard because of cars going past, not because I'm scared their father may find them and snatch them. Same as how they believe I just hate big crowds and rude people pushing and shoving, not because I'm constantly on edge looking for that one face. They'll never know I broke down to their school principal about our past after seeing one of my ex's Facebook posts. They'll never know the carefree person I used to be, though, and I hate that.
My eldest (just shy of 8 now) has started asking questions and said that one of her earliest memories is of coming home to me in a police car because, 'Daddy was too sick to take car of me so the police brought me home.' I'm going to have to explain a little more soon enough. Its been nearly four years since my kids have had any contact with him.
Explaining the past terrifies me."
"My husband is in the army and we live in South Korea. It cost $2,000 to ship our dog here so we decided to leave our cat with my husband's parents since they love that cat and we knew they’d take good care of him.
I just learned this week while my husband's siblings are visiting us that our cat was eaten by a coyote months ago and my in-laws just never told us. Apparently, their neighbors heard a coyote killing something in the middle of the night and the next morning they saw orange fur and cat body parts in their yard.
I get that it’s one thing for my husband and I to figure out how to tell our child, but it bothers me that he died months ago and they never told us instead everyone else in the family knew but us, and he’s our cat. I’ve had issues with his parents not telling us stuff unless we specifically ask and adamantly insist that’s not lying. Either way, it feels weird mourning him when he’s been gone for months already and to know he died such an awful death when we were halfway around the world and couldn’t help him.
We have a 4-year-old daughter who loves that cat and we have no idea how we’re going to tell her. She recently drew a picture of him to show her friends in Korea and even today talked about him and how much she misses him. I feel awful not telling her, but it’ll destroy her sensitive little heart."
"I don’t want my son to know that he was an unwanted accident. Even during my pregnancy, I didn’t want a child. I was still so young and had my whole career ahead of me. I wanted to travel the world, finish school, and advance myself in life to the fullest.
After he was born, I had a hard time adjusting and it took me a long time to fall in love with motherhood. I didn’t feel a connection to my son and felt like the worst mother in the world. Now, I can’t stop looking at him or hugging him or crying over him. I’m finishing school and I got promoted at my job. I can have my life and still be a mother, too. I only regret my feeling of not wanting my son, because he means so much to me and there are no words to describe the deep love that I feel for him.
Before he was born or conceived, I had a slim chance of getting pregnant due to the state of my ovaries. I WANTED a child but I didn’t want one at that moment. We were NOT mentally (at least I felt that I wasn’t) ready for a child - I wanted a child later in my life. When we found out I was pregnant, we considered abortion. I was scared of everything - carrying the baby, giving birth, having the abortion, the guilt, the regret - a lot of emotions and thought went into this pregnancy.
I decided to go through with the pregnancy. So it was my own 'fault' for keeping him, but I don’t regret my decision.
I had support and friends and family all around me during and after. I even had a friend who admitted she had felt the same way I did after giving birth.
I grew up knowing my mother didn’t want me. I was reminded of it almost every day and it seriously messed me up. I do not want the same for my son. He IS WANTED."
"My kids do not know about a lot that transpired while I was married to their dad. They were young when he left - they were still toddlers and it was the day after Christmas - and, luckily, don't remember most of it.
For the sake of full disclosure, he never actually hit me, but I still had plenty of bruises, and there were a few 'me sized' dents in the walls of our apartment. His favorite thing to do was to grab my face and scream at me just an inch or two away. I had some health problems (endometriosis) and that made it tough to do a lot of things. But I still managed to work 40 hours in a shipyard on the graveyard shift AND care for young twins. But, because of my limitations and the pain I was always in, I was 'lazy, worthless, good for nothing' whenever the house wasn't spotless, supper wasn't waiting for him (I did mention I worked graveyard shift, right?) or I didn't want to sleep with him because the resulting pain would land me in the emergency room.
When he left, we had just moved across the country and he had asked me not to go back to work right away (I made more than him working in the shipyard) so we could get settled. So, I had two kids to take care of, no job, no income once he left, and I found a few bank accounts and credit cards with my name on them that I knew nothing about.
He was gone for almost five years with hardly any contact. Then.... There was a big hullabaloo a few years back regarding custody when he took them for visitation and refused to return them. He shopped the kids around to different doctors until he found one that was willing to say what he wanted. Subsequently, everyone in my family was investigated for various types of child abuse (all fabricated) and I didn't get to see them for almost two years. Once he gave them back (HE ended up being investigated for all sorts of things, including child support fraud, tampering with official court documents, child abuse), he terminated his own parental rights and made sure I wouldn't come to him for money, not that I ever got any from him anyway. They don't know about that part either.
The kids STILL won't tell me everything that happened with him, but I do know some of it because of court documents and medical records. They want nothing to do with him, even though I told them that they could pursue a relationship with him once they turned 18 if they wanted. He made his decision and they made theirs.
So, that's my horrible secret. I've never lied to them about any of it. But there are some things I think they don't need to know."
"My daughter doesn't know that she can't have a relationship with her grandfather because he has a history of hurting children and I would never trust him. The rest of my family maintains a relationship with him and leans on me hard to open up communication because 'family comes first.' They are absolutely right, my family does come first, which is why my daughter won't ever have to have a relationship with him.
He has violated multiple members of my family and I only found out when I was pregnant with my daughter. Without going into too much detail, he also has a mental illness and I've been told that I need to let him have a relationship with my daughter because he's 'sick' and 'couldn't help it.'"
"I met a girl. I was 21, she was 19. A week later, we hung out with her friends and watched a movie in her parents' basement. After her friends left, we messed around but never got too far.
Afterward, she went to the bathroom and came out having a full blown panic attack. She told me she was pregnant. I was like, there is no way she’s pregnant with no penetration and NO WAY she knows immediately.
A few weeks later, she told me she took a pregnancy test and she was pregnant. Of course, I asked to see it and she produced two positive pregnancy tests. Sure enough, after a few more weeks, there was no doubt she’s pregnant. Being a good religious boy, I married her. Baby came a little early but no one thought anything of it.
Over the years, I started to see a pattern where she manipulated me using panic attacks. As my daughter grows, I have been noticing she looks only like her mother and her side of the family. We have a second child and she looks like both of us.
After 18 years, the manipulation had escalated to some physical abuse, and I wanted out. I confronted her on what I suspected, that her panic attacks were fake and she used them to manipulate me. She admitted it.
I will always love her as my daughter, but I now fully believe that my wife was pregnant when we met; she suspected as much, and wanted a good guy to marry. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I have no plans to get a test or ever tell my daughter. I will always love and treat her as my own."
"I had a late-term medical abortion booked when I was maybe 19-weeks pregnant.
But to cut it short, I was the sickest pregnant woman my doctor had ever seen. I needed a number of different tubes because I wasn’t able to keep even a single sip of water down. Because I’m a type one diabetic and I got so sick so fast, my body started to shut down and I went into metabolic acidosis. I ended up missing the abortion appointment because I was in the ICU having the acidosis treated.
When I was starting to turn a corner and heal a little bit, they wheeled in the machine to do a bedside ultrasound. I was expecting to be told she had died while I was so sick. I'm almost died.
I was bracing myself to hear, 'I’m sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat,' and what I got was, 'Oh WOW, look at that baby girl MOVE!!'
I guess my doc was expecting the same as me. I didn’t know her gender before that.
It hit me, like really hard. Harder than being told I was pregnant in the first place. Couldn’t go through with it and never booked a new appointment.
I have no intention of telling my daughter that I literally made the decision that my life was more important than hers, even though in the end I realized my error."
"My daughter is about to turn 3 years old in June, so I’m not really hiding it from her at this point, but in the future I seriously do not know how I am ever going to tell her she’s the product of a vicious and brutal assault. He broke my nose, cheek, three teeth, four ribs, and my soul.
Months after, I found out I was pregnant. I have an unusual family dynamic. Call it 'close, but distant.' I was so far down in the depths of despair. I lost my job. I avoided everyone. When I found out about the pregnancy, I was encouraged to terminate. I gave it serious consideration. I personally don't believe in abortion, but there I was contemplating it...
I couldn't do it. I decided to carry to term and put the baby up for adoption. So, the time came, and I delivered a baby girl - completely alone. She was born a month early and spent some time in the NICU. In that time, I worked closely with an adoption agency and signed them custody so that if she were released, she'd go to one of their foster homes until I made my final decision on a family for an open adoption...
I couldn't do it. It was love at first sight. Caught a glimpse of her while recovering from the C-section.
I broke down and told my sister-in-law a week after I gave birth and realized I didn't want to just let her go. My sister-in-law helped me break the news to my folks and helped to provide essentials to welcome her home. My daughter didn't ask for this any more than I did. I had all of these irrational fears: that I'd resent her. That I'd look at her and not see her face, but his. That I would not be able to bond with her or even love her. Well, I've had some extremely trying days. Mostly in the very beginning. I still have doubts about whether or not I am the best equipped for this, but I've been seeing a PTSD/trauma specialist and that's helped me to cope.
She’s almost 3 now and she is the most beautiful little girl with such a good disposition. A true joy to be with. She's the best thing I've ever done and probably saved my life. We're getting by, us against the world. I think I’ll eventually tell her but just thinking about it brings so much anxiety. All I can say, is that I chose love. I chose her despite the circumstances and I was blessed with a tiny miracle - a light in a very dark abyss. So, only a few family and select couple of friends know about her and even fewer know the circumstances. It’s very cathartic to let it all out after holding it in for so long. The biggest challenge is making peace. I’ve wished a million times over it didn’t happen to me but if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have her."
"I was arrested and charged (not convicted) with two felonies for possession and use of a controlled substance after I overdosed when I was younger. Yeah, my children will never know that story. I had taken two quad stacks from someone I trusted enough to buy stuff from but didn't know their source. I took the first pill and then took the second about an hour or two later. I was so messed up and everything was going really well.
I was on my way out the door to go meet up with some friends when I just knew something wasn't right. I didn't know what, but I could feel my body/mind starting to spin out of control. I turned to the guy I was with and told him he needed to take me to the ER. He refused to take me. I went out to his front yard and began pacing back and forth telling myself everything was okay. I knew it wasn't and I went back inside to get my phone and clutch and started walking.
My heart was racing and my brain felt like it was trying to escape out of my skull. I called 911 and told them I needed someone to pick me up. The first woman I talked to was rude and tried to get me to tell her who I got the stuff from so I hung up. Then I realized I needed to call back and so I talked to another person who let me know that an ambulance was on the way. I don't remember how long I was on the phone, but I eventually had to hang up because I couldn't just keep walking. It was late and night and I was walking along the side of a busy road and I started to run. My heart was beating so fast that it freaked me out to listen to it while I was just walking and my brain was doing this weird whoosh feeling thing like it was enlarging and trying to escape my skull. I was totally freaked out. I knew I was going to die and I was so devastated. I was 18 years old and overdosing on the side of the road. I knew I would never see my mom again or become a teacher like I had always dreamed of. It was horrific having to accept my death at such a young age. It really messed me up.
Obviously, I didn't die. First, two police cars showed up and I handed over the other pills that I had on me. People have told me how stupid this was, but I thought I was dying and I didn't really care. I really didn't care. The ambulance arrived only moments later and I went to the hospital. I hallucinated for the next 24 hours and was released the next morning. I was extremely keyed up that next day. I was in no condition to be released, but somehow they let me and I somehow managed to call a taxi and give the taxi directions to my friend's house.
That was the last day I ever did anything. I had tried to smoke weed since then, but I have horrific anxiety after that experience and weed has only exacerbated that problem, whereas it used to not do that.
It's been more than five years since that night and I am now a mother and I am finishing going to school to be a teacher. I am grateful that I had that night because I don't know what kind of a piece of work I would be now if I hadn't. I wouldn't have stopped using."
"My kids, and my wife as well, are blissfully unaware that I had another family before them.
My wife knows I had dated other girls before her, a few long term. She knows I was engaged but did not get married until I met her. She doesn't know I had a baby girl with that former fiancée though, and I'll never tell. Just like I'll never tell anyone that the baby died of a fever after just six weeks of her beautiful life.
This is the part of my story where my wife believes that 'it just didn't work out' and that 'she got really crazy.' The truth is, we were both destroyed as people and neither of us could continue our lives together. We quickly grew to resent and hate each other and lashed out against the world and ourselves in horrible fashion.
No one from that past still has a connection with me, barring my brother who has faithfully kept my secret for twenty years. My parents passed on before they really got to know my wife. My friends and the rest of my family from that time have all long since been separated geographically and by time. My former fiancée hasn't spoken to me since and now lives in a different hemisphere. To my knowledge, she has never dated again, but she did finish school and start a career. I hope she is happy.
My kids don't need to know they have a half-sister in a little grave in a town 2,000 miles away. They don't need to know that their father sees her face in theirs every day. They don't need to know that he has been broken inside since before he even met their mother."
"When I found out I was pregnant, I became super depressed. I was young, my child's dad was a dealer, and I had a history of depression and PTSD. I didn't know what to do and kept drinking (fairly heavily at times) and smoking for about a month. Pretty much didn't get out of bed. I found an adoptive family and was pretty confident about that route. Then his biological father said if I tried to give the baby up for adoption, he would fight for his rights and raise it himself, which was terrifying because he isn't a great person.
I stopped drinking, threw my smokes into a tree and quit smoking, and kept my son. It was the best choice I ever made. He is 4 years old and the most incredible thing to ever happen to me. He is so full of joy and brings me so much joy. With the direction my life had been heading in, I have no clue where I would be now if it wasn't for him. He basically saved my life without knowing it."
"My daughter is only 3 years old. She has never met her dad and never will. When we conceived her, he was married and 'starting the divorce process' and I was married with prior children and had filed for divorce nine months prior.
Well, her dad stayed with his wife but kept coming to see me. I wasn't allowed to tell him when she was born because he was so 'depressed' so I emailed him five days after she was born. He begged to see me. He gets a hotel and I bring our daughter. He id super wasted and I run out to my car to grab something. When I come back, he is pacing the room naked with her in his arms. That was the only time he has ever held her. He then put her down and asked me to hook up at six days postpartum.
When our daughter was 6 weeks old, he attempted to ghost me. So, I filed for child support. It got bad. He's a college professor, his wife at the time had severe bipolar disorder. As soon as she finds out about my daughter, she's calling herself a step mom. Begging for a relationship with her. She shows up at my apartment. She follows me around town. She stalks my social media. My lawyer said to post stuff to rile her just to see how crazy she can get. SHE wants visitation with my daughter but it has to be me dropping my daughter off at a facility in one door and then leaving and then them entering another door. She was terrified if her husband saw me it would restart the affair, like I was some irresistible siren that called men to their deaths.
Eventually, she realizes he wants nothing to do with my daughter so she divorces my daughter's dad. I'm sure it also had to do with the fact he had other affairs and picked up a coke habit. She marries a dope user that robs our local bank, gets arrested at their house, and overdoses around Christmas. Meanwhile, my daughter's father has blocked all contact. He pops up every once in a while to ask for social security numbers.
Our daughter is gorgeous. He's still teaching at the college, his brother is a very famous director in the NYC theater district and teaches at NYU, and my daughter will never know him or his family. Presently I'm getting my degree to teach in higher education. My life is on a great track and I'm raising my insanely beautiful and smart little girl to be a much better person. She will never know the history of her conception and her father will never pursue a relationship with her."