When raising children, parents always want to do what's best for them. After all, it's their job to keep their children safe. Sometimes, this means not telling them certain things. After all, the only thing that would come of it is pain and heartbreak.
Parents on Reddit share the dark secret their child can never learn. Content has been edited for clarity.
“My Family Does Come First”
“My daughter can’t have a relationship with her grandfather because he’s a registered offender, 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 inappropriately touched 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’ve Never Told Anyone”
“Before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I took a ton of pills. I think it’s the closest I’ve ever come to suicide. I had always dealt with anxiety and depression. I feel like the extra hormones put me over the edge. I found out about a week later that I was pregnant (surprise). I was terrified the entire pregnancy that something would be wrong with him. Luckily, he was completely healthy and is an incredibly smart child. I’ve never told anyone. I feel so guilty.”
“He Looked Scared And Distraught”
“When I was three or four, my dad volunteered at a baseball park to shuttle people back and forth on a golf cart. Well one night he didn’t come home til really late. I went to him but stopped to see he looked scared and distraught. He is normally a rough and tough kind of guy and has a big heart. So I asked him what was wrong, but he said nothing and that he was fine. I believed him and went to bed. I woke up the next morning to see that our cousin (who doubles as our babysitter) was at our house, but neither of my parents were. I asked where they went, and she said they went to the morning service of church and not the afternoon service. Again I believed her, and never questioned any of it.
Flash forward 10 years, and my mom told me what really happened. He was shuttling some guy back to the parking lot when the guy put a knife to my dads neck. He then proceeded to take my dad behind a dumpster and assaulted him. So when he got home he waited for everyone to go to sleep and then tried to kill himself by overdosing on painkillers. My mom woke up in the middle of the night and quickly realized that he wasn’t in bed. She found him in the bathroom on the floor motionless and called 911 where was sent to the hospital where was treated. He is thankfully still doing strong. I don’t know where I would’ve been without him.”
“It Was What She Wanted”
“My wife is not the biological mother of our twins. We did IVF and their biological mother was an egg donor from a country in South America. My wife carried them and gave birth to them, but has no biological connection. We’ll tell them some day when they’re older.
It’s a little strange, but one looks exactly like me at that age, and the other one looks very much like my brother.
Our twins are eight and a half years old, and my side of the family has known the truth from a time long before the procedure occurred. For whatever reason, my wife decided to tell her family that she was the egg donor, I the sperm donor, and that we did IVF because we were older and needed medical help to get her pregnant. I never understood why, but went along with it because it was what she wanted.”
“Explaining The Past Terrifies Me”
“I never told my kids just how abusive their biological father was to me, and how neglectful he was of our eldest. Yet, he was dependent on her emotionally. Also, that he never wanted a son, and 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 biological 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 the ex’s Facebook posts. They’ll never know the carefree person I used to be though and that sucks.
My eldest (just shy of eight now) has started asking questions. Being 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. It’s been three and a half years since my kids have had any contact with him. Explaining the past terrifies me.”
“We Were Both Destroyed”
“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 made a baby girl with that former fiancé 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. The former fiancé 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 over 1,900 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.”
“We Kept Our Lives Pretty Normal”
“We hit the lottery for 12.5 million dollars and nobody in our family, including our children, has any idea. Besides us and the government, the only other people who know is an attorney we hired to keep our identities private as well as an accountant. We have kept our lives pretty normal. We both work so there looks like there’s an income coming in.
We both enjoy what we do, and didn’t want to have anything change drastically. We just didn’t want to ruin our relationships with everyone or spoil our kids. We have it safely invested for their futures.
But not until they establish themselves on their own without any idea that there is a safety net. We support numerous charities. It’s a blessing to win but a bigger blessing not to be destroyed by money.”
“No Idea When I’m Going To Tell Him”
“It was Christmas Eve, and my boy was three, almost four. My wife and our seven year-old daughter were out looking at lights, but my son and I stayed home because I don’t like crowds, and he doesn’t like the cold. So we’re just sitting there in the living room, watching the nightmare before Christmas when someone starts pounding on the front door. I got to open it and when I do in staring down the barrel of loaded weapon being held by a guy in dark red trench coat. He’s obviously on some substances or something, either way there’s this crazy look in his eyes.
He says ‘Let me in, I just want your stuff, no one has to get hurt,’ and then he lets himself in, keeping the loaded weapon on me.
My mind’s racing, because if he at all hurts my son, I’m going to jail for viciously and maliciously murdering a man. So he walks me into the kitchen, and starts looking around for valuables. Then I hear my son walk towards us, and I’m panicking and tensing. I had no idea what to freaking do.
My son walks in and sees me and this guy and asks, in the most innocent voice ‘Santa?’
Looking at the burglar. I look at the guy and there’s something going through his mind.
He goes ‘Yep, it’s me Santa. I’m just here to talk to your daddy about how good you’ve been this year. Now you go back, so I can talk to him so your surprise doesn’t get ruined.’
My son looks at me and I tell him to go, and he does. Once he’s back in the living room, he turns to me and says ‘I didn’t know you had kids, I’m sorry,’ and then just throws himself out the door.
I call the cops, my wife and daughter comes home, it’s a big debacle. The entire time my boy is telling the cops, the paramedics my wife his sister, ‘I got to meet Santa!’ He’s almost 7 now, and he has no idea we were almost robbed. No idea when I’m going to tell him.”
“The Kids Never Knew”
“We’re not rich. We get by – all the necessities & some extras. My younger son is autistic. With that diagnosis came some extra financial stress. It was a little tough, but we managed. Then, at the beginning of 2018, he got sick. Real sick. It culminated in a month-long hospital stay, time in the ICU, and hospital bills north of $500,000.
His medication alone is about $30,000 per month, and he needs to take it for the rest of his life.
Between the medical costs, work my husband missed, and freelance I was unable to do, we fell behind and couldn’t catch up. Friends and family helped, but I was constantly trying to juggle buying groceries and keeping the lights on. I couldn’t work because my son needs constant care, multiple doctor visits, and unpredictable hospitalizations.
The kids never knew. It was enough for them to deal with the five year-old being in and out of the hospital. My husband and I skipped meals. We ate a lot of cheap pasta. Christmas wasn’t dollar store items only because of friends/family & charity. I have no idea how we made it.
I’ll probably discuss it with them – or at least our older boy – down the line, so they have an understanding of different financial situations. But for now they’re only five and seven; they don’t need to worry about that.”
“Life Can Be So Messed Up”
“I have one infant daughter.
My wife and I are going to do our darn best to make sure she doesn’t know that her uncle (my brother-in-law) touched both my wife and her younger sister when they were like eight or nine, and he was 14. And it persisted for a few years. When it all came out, my no good narcissistic father-in-law did everything possible to cover it up from other family members and let life go on as normal.
Years later, he just disclaimed at as my wife and her sister were lying and made the whole thing up. He’s currently getting an onset of dementia and I’m pretty sure he actually believes it is all made up now. So needless to say, my daughter will not being going near her uncle at all. I don’t care if she never sees him for all of her days. And as of late, father-in-law has been an even bigger piece of trash, so I’m almost to the point to where I don’t want her seeing him either.
Life can be so messed up.”
“No Idea How We’re Going To Tell Her”
“My husband is in the Army, and we live in South Korea. It cost us $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 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. We have an almost five-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. It feels messed up not telling her but it’ll destroy her sensitive little heart.”
“A True Joy To Be With”
“My daughter is about to turn three 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. Months after, I found out I was pregnant by this. 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 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 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 three 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 members 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.”
“She Doesn’t Need That On Her Mind”
“When my wife was feeding my son through her chest, she stood up to walk to another room and walked through a doorway. His head was hanging over her arm, and she walked right into the door frame.
Few weeks later we are in the hospital because his head was a little big, and we felt uncomfortable. We ended up getting an MRI, and he had a brain bleed. We got locked down and accused of child abuse. However, more tests proved it wasn’t. Nobody could pinpoint what happened and it was diabolized at benign external hydrocephalus (or some nonsense like that) and the brain bleed was attributed to that. His head is pretty big, he will be teased for it as he gets older, he has a big forehead.
My wife has no idea it was her fault, neither do the doctors. Only I remember what happened and I will go to the grave with it because she doesn’t need that on her mind.”
“Daddy’s On The Floor”
“The reason her father and I got divorced is that he left me for another woman, ‘Amy,’ his friend’s wife. When she was two, we moved back to my mom’s house while my world fell apart. One day, she innocently – randomly – said, ‘Daddy’s on the floor and Amy can’t say no.’
This was evidence she witnessed at least some of what was going on while I was out of town. She’s 11 now, and has asked me a few times when she was younger. I always tell her to ask her father because I can’t bring myself to lie and I can’t tell her the truth.
She asked me one day if I still loved him. Best I could come up with on the fly was, ‘If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have you, and for that I am grateful’ because I didn’t even want to break her heart by telling her that truth.
Amy’s ex-husband has since become one of my best friends, who my daughter knows, but she has no idea why he and I are such good friends: we bonded over our spouses boning.”
“Sometimes I Feel Bad”
“I met this one beautiful woman one night at a bar, and I was too hammered to hit it off with her, nothing happened between us. We were off and on talking for months while each of us were doing our own thing (with other people). Months later, I find out she’s pregnant, decide to date her anyway. Find out the dad is a complete piece of trash who has no real intent to support her or be her father, he just wants to take cool selfies for his friends and for chicks. We decided to just cut him out before she was six months old, and say I was the dad. I signed the birth certificate and everything. Dad came over, I gas lighted him by ‘confirming’ his suspicions that she was cheating while they were dating, and I know the kid’s mine. Never seen him since.
I have family that knows, they’re awful people and tried to tell my other kids that she isn’t really their sister. I tell them that the family is a bunch of trashy people (true) and make the ‘big secret’ be that I knocked-up my now-wife that first time we met at the bar, and didn’t get back together until I found out she was pregnant. So everyone, except for a few holdouts in the family regarded as crazy and the worst people ever, believe me.
Everything is great now. We have had more kids together (that are actually mine), and everyone who knows the ‘big secret’ just knows a layer to the lie. The only people who really know is my wife and me.
Sometimes I feel bad for what I did. Then I check up on the guy and realize that she’s not missing anything… he’s improved his life a little, but he’s essentially still a man-child. I hope that there’s never a reason to tell her, but with the way medical science is it will probably come up eventually.
The real secret is that she’s my favorite kid out of all of them. Even my wife doesn’t know that.”
“Living Her Best Life”
“My sister got pregnant at 19, so it was very inconvenient for her. She was willing to stick through the pregnancy, but she didn’t think she was ready to be a mother. When my niece was around six months old, her mother dropped her off at my parents house to ask if she could watch her for a couple of hours while she went to work/ school (I don’t remember. She just needed my parents to watch her), but after about six hours, she didn’t come home.
She sent a message to my dad asking that they legally adopt my niece, but they refused and tried to get her to come back home to raise her daughter. Luckily she realized she wasn’t doing what was best for her daughter, and came home after a few weeks of living alone. Now she has a pretty successful life because she decided to trust my parents and let them help her raise her daughter. Now my niece is seven, and living the best life we can give her.
But she still doesn’t know that her mother abandoned her when she was 6 months old, and probably will never know.”