Trust and honesty mean almost everything in a relationship and in family life. However, that’s a rather idealistic way of looking at things. The reality is often much different: family members keep secrets from one another. And some secrets… well, your parents won’t let you in on them until you’re much older. More mature. And able to handle the truth.
While we wouldn’t divulge our sensitive family secrets to just anyone, anonymity often provides us with the courage to share some of them with other internet users. That’s exactly what redditors have been doing after user Skadarski asked them to open up on r/AskReddit about all the secrets their parents told them once they were old enough to hear them. From deep and dark secrets that have the potential to unravel the foundations of the family to more lighthearted and even pleasant secrets, have a read through them below and upvote the ones that caught your eye the most, dear Pandas.
Bored Panda had an in-depth chat about family secrets and whether honesty is always the best policy with the author of the thread, redditor Skadarski. Meanwhile, I also reached out to certified relationship and self-love coach Alex Scot to talk about honesty, trust, and the difference between secrecy and privacy. You'll find both interviews below.
Feeling in the mood to share some of your own family secrets? Feel free to do so in the comment section. Remember—nobody’s here to judge you. We’ll keep your secrets secret… Won’t we?
When I was a kid, my dad accidentally killed a raccoon with his car. It had a young one with it that wasn't hit, so we adopted the baby raccoon.
We adored it, but we were not at all equipped to care for it. There was no lock or cage that could stop this thing. It was very clever, strong and curious. It got into cupboards and ate food and trash, and we'd find its shit in the most random places.
One day my dad sat me down and told me that my raccoon had "gone to live on a farm." I was old enough to know what that meant, and I was heartbroken.
Just a few years ago I was telling this story to my husband and my dad interrupted me and said that he literally, actually gave my raccoon away to a work acquaintance of his that had a farm and a lot of wooded property. It had become so accustomed to humans it constantly broke into the man's house and ate his food, and got enormously fat and lived a long ornery raccoon life.
My son is 20. His mother just told him about me in December. Nobody knew I was his dad, even me. 20 years not knowing I had a son. It's been 6 months and he's the greatest thing I've ever done. He's smart, in the military and we have a wonderful relationship. Had he not pressed her about it, she would have never told him. I'm so happy I can hardly contain myself most days. Words can't describe my emotions.
My grandfather was a small business owner who everyone always thought of as extremely frugal due to growing up poor. Later we found out he spent a significant amount of money on charitable causes and helped a lot of his employees with financial and in one case legal trouble. Positive secret, but it was definitely a secret.
Personally, I’m an ‘honesty is the best policy’ kind of guy, but even I have my limits. I’m realistic about the fact that you physically can’t share every single detail of your life, family history, and dark corner of your mind with your loved ones (nor should you, as this fantastic article on Aeon explains). Having some privacy is important. However, I also feel like showing your vulnerabilities and the inner workings of your mind can actually strengthen your relationship with your relatives, your friends, your partner. After all, if someone were to trust you with a secret about themselves, you’d feel honored to be the one they tell it to, right?
Relationship coach Alex told Bored Panda that transparency is incredibly important in both romantic relationships, as well as those with your relatives. And if we're ever having doubts about whether or not to share something with our loved ones, we should try and imagine ourselves in their position.
"If it can affect your partner or family, there absolutely should be transparency. Whenever in doubt, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself what you would like if you were in their situation," she said, noting that we have to consider whether a piece of information directly impacts the people we care about.
When I was a kid, I used to be friends with the next door woman, who was about 20 years old. To me she was a best friend because she would read to me, or play with me or take me to walks. One morning I woke up and her dad was at my house and gave me a painting she made, then my parents told me my friend had to move to another city for work and she left me the painting to remember her. Some time later we moved to another city but returned years after when my dad died. I found the dad and sister were living there still. There I knew the truth, my friend had died on a car accident back then, but they decided to lie to me because they didn’t want to hurt me.
This is actually a very fresh reveal I've recently gotten.
Backstory: My Mom and Dad were in high school when they had me. They were broken up and on bad terms before I was even born. Dad moved to California for the Marines and school. I stayed in the South with my mom, but my grandmother (dad's mom) stepped into the void my dad left and helped my mom raise me.
Classic estranged father. I'd maybe see him for a few days every year or two, but by the time I was close to becoming a teenager there'd be years between visits. When I was younger, I always had him on a pedestal even though I hardly ever saw him or spoke to him. BUT I could always count on hearing from him when a new console came out. I've been a huge gamer my entire life, so my dad would ALWAYS buy and send whatever the newest console/gaming innovation was at the time. It's always been our thing, starting with a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Gold all the way to the PS4 Pro. Even over the last few months he had been talking about getting me the new Xbox whatever it is.
My grandmother passed away last month, so I've had to see and speak with him a lot more than usual. He told me he had been having trouble finding an Xbox but assuring me that it would happen once everything settled down. I was talking with my Mom afterwards and mentioned the conversation in passing. Found out that my grandmother was buying everything for me and my dad was just taking the credit.
Most of my college was paid by someone named Tony (random dude to me). I know you're all thinking that it was some sort of lovechild thing, but it turns out my grandfather was a bookie and Tony was always just a bad gambler."
"So instead of My grandpa having his knees capped, he made a deal Tony would pay for college.
"If it wouldn’t impact them, then you have the option of keeping it to yourself. The difference between privacy and secrecy is that secrecy has a sense of shame, guilt, or knowing that your partner or family member wouldn’t be ok with whatever took place."
Alex shared with Bored Panda that rebuilding trust in a relationship is "always a challenge" once it has been broken. "For smaller offenses, it will take less time, but for larger offenses, be prepared to be overly transparent for a time and hire a therapist or coach to walk you through the process. Trust takes consistency to rebuild and consistency equals effort over time."
There was story growing up about how a local prince wanted to marry me and offered things like cows for my hand in marriage.
When my father passed away I went to my home country and met cousins I had not met before.
Turned out the prince was the president's son and it wasn't an offer, it was a demand. We snuck out of the country because he was going to make me his wife - bear in mind, I was a toddler.
My mom filled in the back story. The company my dad worked for had to smuggle us out of the country. My life was so exciting when I was 6.
My great-uncle (dad's uncle) left me a large sum of money in trust that I was to receive at either age 25, graduated from college, or was honorably discharged from military service (he retired from military), whichever came first. I had no idea and I'm glad I didn't. I joined the military right out of high school and when I had my DD-214 in hand, my parents took me to a lawyer who laid it all out. Wow. Because of the enhanced GI Bill, I didn't have to touch a cent of it for tuition. I did use it to buy a house though.
I miss my great-uncle as much for his wisdom as his company.
When I turned 18 I got a letter from a distant Aunt and Uncle wishing me a happy birthday.
I hadn’t seen them since I was a a baby, but there’s hundreds of pictures of them and me together when I was a baby. They used to babysit me a lot and take me on vacations with them.
My Mom told me they used me to smuggle things. I guess they said it was super easy to smuggle just about anything with a baby. At one point literally hiding cocaine in my diaper.
Meanwhile, the author of the thread, Skadarski, told Bored Panda that the inspiration to create the thread came to them out of nowhere and that they didn't think that the question would get as much attention as it did.
"It was kind of what some people call a shower thought: 'What if I'm adopted? What if I was exchanged at birth? What if I have a lost sibling somewhere out in the world? What if my family has been hiding some weird stuff from me?' To be honest, we have all wondered about these questions at some point in our lives, and for the vast majority of us, family secrets are no more than innocent, basic stuff. I've stumbled quite often on stories telling about a mindboggling search for a lost brother or whatnot, so the idea for the thread came to me without much difficulty," they shared with Bored Panda why their thread was relatable to so many people out there.
Found out that my Dad was one the loudest student leaders that fought the Marcos dictatorship, he led a propaganda movement, captured and tortured by the PC, and was desaparecido for a few years , the horrors he experienced I cant even--
Not me but my Grandpa. During the Vietnam war, my Grandma had a baby with an American Soldier when she was sixteen. Not knowing this, my Grandpa still raised my half aunt. My Grandpa fought as well. He battled alcoholism, PTSD, The Viet Cong, and fled a country he swore to protect.
After my family moved to Iowa, my Grandma finnaly told the truth about my half aunt. My Grandpa just stood up, went to the fridge for a beer, and told my Grandma "I still raised her". I never doubted my Grandpa's love for his family after my other aunt told me this.
My dad used to take all of my christmas and birthday money—my brother’s too—for our ‘college fund.’
We didnt have access to the account till we turned 18. Day before my older brother’s birthday, old man drains the account and buys a new car… for himself. Told us that was always the plan and that if we wanted to go pay for school we’d better go get jobs.
Please never do this to your kids. It will probably contribute to trust issues, esp financially. But I wouldnt know. I cant afford therapy lol
In Skadarski's opinion, parents keep some things secret in order to not traumatize their kids. When they're older, they're more mature and can absorb some information in stride, without letting it break them.
"I've tried to read most of the answers to the original post; there is some outright creepy stuff down there. I remember one user who wrote that their mom accidentally put their cat in the washing machine when they were a kid. The cat died, but the user did not learn about this until their adulthood, believing until then that their cat ran away," the redditor gave us one particular example.
"I can see why not telling a kid that their cat was drowned in the washing machine is a reasonable decision. Honesty is the best policy but not always. Some things should better be hidden until the child is old enough to figure enough for himself, or when he is grown up, so he can digest the news calmly."
That secret was revealed to me not when I reached adulthood but when my father passed away. When I was a baby, I had a baby doll which I loved. I still have that doll now that I am 28 y.o. One day, a month about after my fathers death, my mother told me that he had bought me 3 same baby dolls and when the one I was using had gotten damaged, he secretly replaced her with a new one. He kept that secret as a present for the day of my wedding, along with all the baby dolls I had used all those years. He didn't make it to reveal it to me himself.
A few years after my dad died (2001) my mum told me that he had given her an ultimatum back in 1993, a year after his first heart attack.
She did absolutely everything for him, tea on the table when he got home, all the laundry & ironing his shirts as well as running a shop (that he wanted) full time & all alone. By this time they had been married for 32 years, he had many things he did without her/us, he played football, cricket, golf etc, she didn’t have anything. When he got home from work he was in control of the main tv, she would watch a black & white portable in the kitchen if she wanted to watch something else.
In 1993 I started college, I’m the youngest & there was only 2 of us still at home. So mum found she had some time on her hands, she started visiting a friends house & they would just sit & chat whilst knitting. She would walk down there & more often than not her friends son in law would drive her home. Now before she left home she would make sure dad still had his tea or if he wasn’t home she would make it & leave it for him.
This ultimatum he gave was to stop visiting her friend or get a divorce!
I was devastated when she told me, I explained that if we had known we would have all been in her corner & even encouraged her to go with the divorce & if anything she should have divorced him!
As much as I miss the man I still want to give him a slap for being so f**king stupid & petty.
That I had a much older half-sister. Apparently my father had got some girl knocked up in high school, her parents didn't like him and thought they were too young to raise a kid, so they just packed up and moved. He knew she existed, but never tried to locate her and just moved on with his life. After I was in college, the sister had contacted him and they got together. Well nobody bothered to mention this fact to me until I come home from college for Thanksgiving and this strange women is sitting at the table and my dad says, "Meet your sister."
Redditor Skadarski also believes that certain secrets should be buried forever. Bringing them to light would only cause harm and suffering. "If it's a fairly traumatizing event (family death, pet death, etc.) it is better for it to be kept hidden. Lots of parents don't fully tell to their kids what their life was before they met their future mom/dad. I think the moment we decide to keep something a secret is quite arbitrary and varies with each family."
They added: "Most of the time though, it if is serious enough to damage the family ties, better keep your mouth shut."
I am 43 and recently found out that my grandfather, he had passed away before I was born, was in prison when he was 16 for killing his father. There were reports of child and spouse abuse and alcoholism. My family looks at is as he was protecting his siblings. When he got out of prison he met my grandmother and they had 11 children that be protected until his death!
That college fund that they were always talking about had $148.74 in it.
My aunty casually brought up one Christmas after my dad had died that he went missing for TWO YEARS when he was twenty and nobody ever knew where he went! He just reappeared one day "looking like jesus" and never explained where he went or what happened and then continued on living his life and literally no-one ever mentioned it again so I never got to ask him about it. So wild.
It’s difficult to gauge how much we should be sharing with our family members when every case seems unique. And let’s not forget how awkward and embarrassed we might feel talking about sensitive issues or (un)pleasant experiences. Getting past that is no easy feat and requires quite a bit of tussling within yourself to quiet down your ego for the sake of the entire family.
Keeping secrets locked up deep inside of you can harm you and your loved ones, PsychCentral explains. For instance, keeping secrets from your partner can lead to a breakdown in communication in a relationship or marriage. Then, by extension, any children you have might suffer as a result as the bond between both parents weakens (and possibly even breaks).
My dad's friend commited suicide by shooting himself in the head in front of my dad and some other friends when he was 15 years old.
They were all hanging out at the friend's house having a good time, when he went upstairs, grabbed his father's pistol, and came back down calling everyone's attention. He then put the gun to his head, squeezed the trigger, and collapsed behind a couch. They all thought it was some sort of sick joke at first, until they looked over the couch and saw his body and the blood.
I first heard this story from my mom when I was 18, which explained some of my dad's behavior towards toy guns when I was a kid, but I never brought it up to him. I just hoped that one day he would open up to me about and eventually he did, but we haven't talked about it since then.
I'm amazed how my dad dad turned out to be such a great man having to expeience something awful like that at such a young age, but according to him it's something that never left him either. He still has nightmares about it and get really uneasy in movies and TV shows when they show someone getting shot in the head.
Not an adult, but my mom died giving birth to me, but I just found out a few months ago that I had a twin sister that died during childbirth to. She wasn't really strong enough to survive. I think I stole all the good stuff inside. It would be cool having a mom and a twin sister but the world had diffrent plans i guess.
So when I had my son, my dad got very emotional and pleaded with me to get him vaccinated as soon as he can. I was taken aback because I: already booked his 2 month vaccines, and my dad got very distraught out of the blue. Then he let me know why he was upset.
So between my vaccines, as an infant, I caught whooping cough. If I didn't have my first vaccine and booster I'd probably be dead. None of the whopping cough vaccines lined up with the other boosters after a certain time period on my records.
I was in and out of hospital and as a toddler sickly. I remember going into the washroom at night for steaming air, and having 3 inhalers. Nights up with my parents...it must have been miserable for them. Also breath stress tests once I started puberty. I was told asthma, but I never had any attacks. I just had trouble with my lungs in general.
As a parent now, I would definitely be a wreck...no wonder all these years later he's so traumatized still.
Meanwhile, keeping secrets can also lead to a build-up of resentment when the truth inevitably comes to light. It can get even worse if your partner or family member suspects that something fishy is going on, but you refuse to open up to them. In short, fibbing and full-on secrecy mode is no way to go through life. Honesty is easier and far better. Though some secrets will have to wait until your kids are a bit older and wiser, others are best shared, so they can understand the truth, instead of living in a world of illusions.
How much money my dad had. We could have had a much bigger house in a fancy neighborhood with a pool and all kinds of stuff, but we had what we needed in our modest bungalow, and we never went without. He was very wise with his money and was very generous.
Several years ago my dad dropped the truth bomb that he didn't think I was his kid when I was born. My mum had an affair and he thought I was an illicit lovechild.
As soon as I started growing, he could see a lot of himself in my features so eventually brushed it off. But like... gee thanks dad. Not sure I needed to know that.
My adopted brother was actually my cousin. We knew my aunt died in a car crash, but they left out that my uncle was shot/murdered with his son in the room. He was 3 years old at the time, and alone with the body until the next morning. My brother was a pretty troubled kid, and it made a lot of sense when we found out what he had gone through and how he had received basically zero counseling after.
My mom was super anti-abortion her whole life, we figured it was just religion. Turns out her mom (my grandma) got put in jail for helping women do illegal abortions in Illinois before Roe vs Wade. Everyone found out because women kept turning up almost bleeding to death. Turns out back alley abortions are super dangerous
When I was 16 I got my learners permit and I decided to test for my license at 17. I had just gotten my motorcycle working and wanted to be able to ride it but I needed the drivers license portion to attach the endorsement to. Once I had my license, my mom told me that I got one free call, she didn't care what state I was in, how messed up I was... Didnt matter, she would come pick me up no questions asked. (She said she might ask if im okay or if a guy hurt me or something like that.) About a month after that, I get a call from her at like 9PM and she says she went out with a few friends and accidentally got drunk and needed me to come get her. Because she gave me one free call, she figured that she should also get one free call. This was weird because she never drank while growing up. She had one bottle of Khaluha (can't remember the spelling srry) on the top of the fridge and it was there since I could remember. So I said sure and took a bus out to the resturant so I could drive the car back.
While in the car she started to tell me about her night with friends and how nice it was to go out. I could tell that she definitely had way too much by how she talked. Then she said something that I never forgot.
"Alice, you were my biggest mistake. I had you hoping to save the marriage with your father, if I had known children were career killers, I wouldn't have let my family bully me into having a child. I would have focused on being happy instead." Then she kinda mumbled a bit and fell asleep.
I wasn't in the greatest head space at the time and I remember thinking to myself. "You're driving, you can't cry and lose control. Keep it together." I managed to get home safely and carry my mom to her bed. I set an empty bucket down next to her bed, laid her on her side and left a cup of water on the nightstand.
I spent the night with a pack of razors thinking to myself that if I did something bad, it would only make her sacrifice a waste. The next morning when she woke up she asked me what happened the previous night and I told her she called me drunk so I took a bus and drove her home in her car so she wouldn't have to go back to the resturant to get it. I was thanked and told im the best kid ever and then I was heavily interrogated on how I knew to set out water and a bucket.
About a month later I asked if she ever regretted having children and she told me her kids were the light of her world. And that's when I realized. The secret she revealed to me is how we as a society treat ourselves and others. We avoid hard conversations and we avoid owning up to mistakes. We shy away from grief and sadness and topics on negative emotions make us uncomfortable. It's far easier to just lie and pretend nothing is wrong than to acknowledge the feelings we have. We hide in ignorance and thrive in recklessly abandoning honesty. I also learned that growing up, our parents are our heroes. She survived 2008 with multiple kids, working in the housing industry... I always considered her my hero, and I still do. But... I also learned that day heroes aren't perfect.
Tl;dr: i learned humans love to lie to others and ourselves, and to not do drugs and stay in school. And get lots of sleep along with staying hydrated.
After my dad died, my mom sat me and my brother down and told us we were both conceived by IVF with sperm from anonymous donors. I was 30 at the time. A subsequent DNA test confirmed we were only half siblings. The revelation explained a lot, but I'm still processing even now and don't know how to feel about it.
Yes. That I had a half brother that was adopted soon after his birth. I met him when I was 13. My mom kind of had to tell me as he had become a policeman and was at our house to arrest my dad. He didn’t keep in touch, I don’t blame him
Kind of. My sister decided to take a DNA test to get some insight into her ancestry. She got her results back and had zero percent Italian, while our dad is 100% Italian. She didn’t confront them right away and instead decided to wait until I took the test and get my results. Four weeks later I got my results back and sure enough, I also had zero percent Italian, and it actually identified my biological father, who isn’t my dad. They revealed the secret when my sister intentionally let it slip that she was and I were waiting for our DNA results. I’m 38 and it never once came up. It wasn’t even really for a bad reason, they had fertility issues and went to a sperm bank. I’m honestly not sure they ever would have said anything
My dad and his cousin were both raised by my Grandmother. I always thought that was odd but never questioned it. Later learned that this was due to the fact that the cousin's mom murdered her husband (Grandmother's brother).
When I was 18 my mom told me how my dad cheated on her with this woman named Kathy. I actually remembered Kathy when I was kid because my dad would take my brother and I to her house. She would buy us computer games and stuff so we loved her at the time. I never understood why my mom hated her until I was older.
Kathy ended up marrying my dad's best friend. As an adult I was never nice to her and my dad would give me s**t about it. I finally told him that I knew about her and that mom had told me everything. He just said "Oh, alright then." He never gave me s**t again.
When I turned 18 my dad told me how he’d spent the better part of 10 years as a drug smuggler. Mostly cocaine and weed that they would get in South America, put on small planes to land somewhere in the Caribbean and then move to Florida on super fast boats they’d only run at night. He didn’t tell me all the insane stories I’m sure he had but he did tell me about being stuck in a bar in Colombia for an entire day during an attempted coup and how more than once they traded guns they stole to the FARC for cocaine. This was all especially crazy since to me he was pretty much the most straight laced dude alive.
My mother recently (I am 52) told me that I have a half-sibling out there somewhere. She had a child before she met my father and put him up for adoption.
My father told me that my mom (a teacher) used to steal the money for school trips where she worked at. For some twisted reason she moved me and my sister to the same school. I never understood why were the other teachers so bitter towards us...
Apparently there was a big scandal between the teachers, but we had no idea. Worst years of my life, finally explained.
Near adulthood. My Dad left when I was 10 (but took the kids on weekends, etc) and very soon afterwards was dating a woman seriously. By my teen years I had kinda-sorta worked out that he had probably been seeing her before he left, meaning he cheated on my Mom. But I rationalized it that the marriage failed and hey, he actually was in a relationship with that woman for years afterward so it wasn't a cheap fling.
Then in my late teens Mom told a story about the summer when they were still married when Dad was sent on a 6 week training seminar in another city. She paused, uncertain if she should add this tidbit, then mentioned she had been told by one of his co-workers that he dated a woman there for that whole 6 weeks.
TL;DR: Found out Dad had a pattern of cheating on my Mom, not just the once.
My grandma owned a bar when we were growing up but also ran a huge bookie/betting service from the bar. I didn’t know until she passed away. It all made sense, the random police showing up, the robberies.
My mom was 3 months pregnant at their wedding. They were married for 45 years but might not have married at all had my mom not been knocked up.
My mom almost left my dad 13 years into the marriage until she got preggo with my brother and changed her mind.
My mom had a lesbian affair and my dad used to watch. She used to babysit my brother and me when we were little.
When I was 8, I got a cat named Toes. Big fluffy gray long haired kitty with white feet. Sweet kitty. I went away to visit my grandparents for the weekend and when I came home, my mom broke the news to me Toes had been hit by a car and killed. I was terribly upset but mom took me to a shelter and we adopted a new kitty almost right away. Years later, when I was probably 21, my mother called me and sounded very upset. She said she had something to tell me. Turns out Toes had not been hit by a car that weekend. He had instead climbed into the warm clothes dryer to sleep and mom didn't see him and loaded the dryer with a blanket she had washed... and then found Toes when she opened the dryer an hour later.
My parents raised me in a Southern Baptist Church and pushed True Love Waits/abstinence on me when I was a teenager (not a big deal, since I didn't date anyway and if I did, I didn't want to have unsafe sex and mess up my life with an unwanted pregnancy). Two decades later, Mom admitted she and Dad had had sex before they got married. Not an earth-shattering revelation but kind of funny in a way.
Me and my sister used to play with a doll, we named it talk to it and everything, but then one day it disappeared, years later my mother told me that she threw it away, because she saw "Chakki" and the doll looked really realistic and had the same size, so my mom freaked out and couldn't sleep until she threw my beloved sweet heart lolo.
But yeah i had to hide that I'm upset when she told me because i was a teenager boy in a country where they're obsessed with musclinty, so couldn't say "oh this make me really upset" instead just stopped talking about it.
I'm actually 25 now, and still miss it and feel bad about it, maybe that's why I've never wanted a child because i lost one in a very young age and can't do it again.
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