Parents are just like us. After all, they are human which means, just like us, they do make mistakes. No one's perfect, and our parents are not exempt from this rule. As the following AskReddit thread reveals through its answers, many parents still have trouble when it comes to issues like addiction, infidelity, and finance.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
“When I was around 10, my father came storming into my room and stiff-armed me into the wall. He started to scream in my face through tear-filled angry eyes, ‘What did you do to it?’ I had no idea what he was talking about.
He dragged me into the bathroom and pointed at a box of Arm & Hammer still screaming. His hand was squeezing the back of my neck so hard that I thought he was going to snap my neck. I still plead ignorance while having no clue what he was talking about. He threw me into my room and barricaded the door with a large dresser so that I couldn’t get out. He left me in there for 3 days with no food (nothing). I was terrified and alone. He never explained to me why he had done what he did, or what he was talking about.
I later found out why when my much older cousin confessed at a family Christmas party that she had broken into our family home and stole my dad and stepmom’s stash which they had hidden in the Arm & Hammer box. She said all of this like it was some kind of a funny family story or something. So, my dad locked me up during a coke bender and almost killed me in the process.
I’m a dad now, and I don’t speak to my parents at all.”
“I know that my mother is a convicted felon.
I also know that my grandfather had an illegitimate child with my aunt. I put two-and-two together. My aunt is my mother’s sister, and my uncle is her son, but he is also my mother’s brother. My cousin is my aunt’s child, my uncle’s sibling, and my mother’s niece.
It was later confirmed by the other side of my family. My mom still doesn’t know that I know.”
“I always thought my father had a very small appetite. He would eat a few bites during each meal and would then declare that he was full. When I hosted my first big Thanksgiving in my new house with my fiancé, my father ate over 3 pounds of potatoes, a whole pie, and more than half of the turkey all by himself. My mother made a remark once about how he had a ‘bottomless stomach’ since they were kids.
I was telling my fiancé later that night how oddly that remark had struck me considering his track record. My fiancé later explained to me that my father hadn’t been eating so that there would be enough to go around for my mother, my sister, and I.”
My Parent’s Divorce
“The circumstances behind my parent’s divorce. I was 10 when they separated, and they never really told us why. They just said that their marriage wasn’t working anymore. I didn’t really care, so I never asked. However, over the next few years, I would eavesdrop on bits and pieces of their conversations and had eventually put the pieces together.
Basically, my mom cheated on my dad with my now stepdad. My mom and current stepdad worked at the same high school, and my mom even taught each of his kids. When my dad began to get suspicious, he put a key-logger on the family computer and her phone, and he found some suspicious texts/emails/searches, etc. He hired a private investigator (PI) who followed my mom to the airport one day and struck up a conversation with her. My mom took the bait and ended up confessing everything to the PI under the impression that they were a complete stranger.
I was introduced to my stepdad a little under a year after they had separated, but I didn’t really meet any of his children or family until a few years later. Turns out, he was having an affair as well, but he was introduced to my brothers and I while he was still with his wife.”
“When I was around 10-11, I went through a really rough patch emotionally. The medication I was taking for my ADHD started messing with me really badly, and that combined with regular pre-pubescent angst, turned me into quite the little prick.
I started getting into a lot of fights in school and was generally an emotional wreck. I would get so mad that I couldn’t even express it and would instead just be mean to everyone around me.
One night, I was on the couch with my eyes closed basically being quiet for the first time in months when I heard my mom say to my brother that raising me was really hard and that sometimes she wished I was just someone else’s problem.
I know she was just tired and frustrated, but I’ve never forgotten that, and I’ve also never confronted her about it either.”
Married For Citizenship
“My dad always used to tell my little brother and me about this ‘Russian girlfriend’ that he used to have when he was younger. What he would very CONVENIENTLY leave out, though, was how they had gotten married so that she could receive her citizenship. Thank you, Ancestry.com!”
A Messy Parting
“My parents started going through a messy divorce when I was in middle school. It was a big mix of things which ended it. According to my dad, my mom was a secret drinking problem and would often pick my brother and me up from school while wasted. When my dad found out, we would randomly get picked up by a friend’s parents, and they would watch us while my dad made our mom sober up. My dad liked to exaggerate, so I have no idea how much she actually drank, or if she was just having a couple of drinks with lunch. Either way, my mom isn’t aware that I know that she used to pick us up from school under the influence. She’s definitely not a big drinker now. She keeps the drinks front and center in the house, and they always go down at a reasonable rate.
When their divorce was final, my dad just completely shut down. He became a recluse and wouldn’t talk to anyone outside of his work. He felt like he had lost all of his friends during the divorce, but I could tell something else was bothering him. He never really recovered from the divorce and still only interacts with me, my brother, and his siblings. The divorce was finalized about 8 years ago.
I was talking with my uncle (my dad’s youngest brother), who roomed with him in college, saying how worried I was about him being lonely as he gets close to 60. My uncle told me to never tell him that I know this, but apparently, my dad was engaged to another woman when he was in college. They were engaged for 6 months when my dad contracted gonorrhea from his fiance. Turns out, she had been cheating on him for years with the rest of the football team. I guess he never recovered from that because it explains a lot of his controlling behavior, and his distrust of anyone but a blood relative.
I’ve always wanted to tell my dad that I know and that it’s okay for him to talk to me about what happened, but I also don’t want to betray my uncle’s trust and ruin one of my dad’s last good relationships. He recently found out that his sister and mother were keeping a small secret from him, and he threatened to never speak to them again. He has a lot of trust issues and hates being lied to.”
“I found out the real reason behind why we were so poor growing up.
It was because my parents had substance abuse problems. We always had a house, food, health insurance, and clothes. However, a few years without Christmas and some birthdays would happen, and we almost lost the house.
My parents were pretty high-functioning addicts to keep us. Oh well…”
“My parents are divorced. My father was a pastor who cheated on my mother with a member of his congregation. She took me and left. The families have no contact. Originally, I was used as a pawn by him and abused until he had his son and left. I was 5.
Fast forward to today, through internet sleuthing skills, I managed to find him. He has 4 kids and has inherited a couple million of dollars from his father. His family doesn’t know that I’ve found them and that I could bring up his past if I chose to and completely ruin his life. The kids don’t know that I exist. They’re all the very sheltered type.
My mother and I lived in poverty. I’m disabled, and he abandoned us. He never paid alimony or child support. I’ve even found his radio programs where he talks about being a good Christian and giving all of yourself to the poor. I could ruin everything and take him to court, but for now, it’s just my secret.”
“My dad thinks my mom is insane. He regrets his entire relationship with her that they’ve had since they were teenagers. The thing is, though, my dad is even more messed up than my mom. He has serious emotional issues. I think being in prison tamed him. At least in the sense that he doesn’t act on his impulses anymore, but he still has them. I see it.
My mom and my dad have had an abuser-victim codependent relationship for a while now. She claimed that she was staying ‘for the kids,’ but the whole reason why she had us in the first place was that she was trying to chain a man to look after her. She is incapable of taking care of herself to this day. My dad thinks I am exactly like her, but he also won’t say it.
He really doesn’t like me, and I used to be scared that he would do something to me. However, I know that he won’t do anything to me now because 1) He’s old and needs someone to take care of him, and he knows that his wife would leave him in a heartbeat. Contrary to my mom, she doesn’t actually need him. 2) I’m diagnosed with a mental illness, and as far as he’s concerned, I’m totally crippled (which pretty much guarantees that I’ll either stay by his side until he dies, or I’ll run to the first prick that can financially support me.
It’s pretty sad. They are both so afraid of being old and alone.”
“When I was 15, I was broke and looking around the house for some spare change. I was home alone at the time, and I looked in my parents’ room where I found a metal box with a padlock on it.
My curiosity got the best of me, and I looked around for the key. I found it and unlocked the box. There were letters and a journal inside written by my mom. Those were what she wrote in for therapy.
Turns out, my mother had three miscarriages before having me. I have an older brother, and we’re 7 years apart. I don’t think he knows yet. I don’t really want to tell him. The letters made me cry my eyes out (I’m a momma’s boy). All three of the miscarriages were going to be girls. She wanted a daughter to name ‘Mary Catherine.’ After she had me, she had to have a surgery and was left infertile afterward.
I’ve always felt sorry for my mother since then. If I get married and have a daughter, I think I’m going to name her Mary Catherine.”
“We were apparently much better off than I thought when I was a kid. I never thought we were poor because we didn’t go without the basics, but I was constantly told that we couldn’t afford anything that my mom didn’t want to spend the money on. So I was in hand me downs from church members until high school, and I wasn’t allowed to do any extracurriculars that had added costs (no sports or Girl Scouts). It was that sort of thing.
When I started working in high school at 14, my parents stopped paying for pretty much everything except for my health insurance and my car insurance. I bought my own food, clothes, phone, etc. Nevermind the fact that my younger brother got to do whatever he wanted to and that my mom still pays for his car payments. It definitely wasn’t the end of the world, but it gave me a weird complex. I still have troubles budgeting and rationalizing ‘extra’ purchases sometimes.”
“My mom was cheating on my dad and that’s a huge reason why they split. She very quickly remarried and popped out my brother. I wasn’t sure about it until I was an adult. I did the math and realized she was pregnant with her second husband while still married to my father.”
His Inner Workings
“I found an old diary that my dad had kept after grad school. He was an English major, so it had a lot of beautiful poetry in it, chronicles of his time teaching on a naval destroyer, and his thoughts on some of the women that he had been sleeping with. He was so intelligent and funny, and we were very close, but after reading those things, it made me realize just how little he actually talked about his feelings.
Yes, we debated about philosophy, politics, had the same idiotic sense of humor, and spent nights eating cold imitation crab legs and tapioca pudding from the 3-gallon tin cans, but he was never vulnerable. He had a dark, horrifying side as well that I never fully understood. All I got was either funny, smart dad or a monster. Reading his journal was like meeting a new person. It definitely made me even more compassionate and understanding.
Before he died, we (thankfully) made full amends. I was 18 with a career, kids, and my own place. I think he realized that he might lose his only son, and it made for some profound changes in him. That year, he actually discussed his feelings with me, his fears, his love for his grandchildren and this was when he had never ever even mentioned loving another person besides his kids for my whole entire life.”
Inside That Paper Bag
“I was at home from school one day. I can’t remember why, but I was reading a book in my room. I heard my mom shrieking at me angrily from the other room, so I went to see what she was going on about this time around.
She was in the bathroom holding a paper bag (lunch bag-sized) and was FURIOUSLY screaming about ‘how I was going through her stuff and invading her privacy. I was totally bewildered and said, ‘What are you talking about? That bag’s been in the bathroom cupboard for a week now.’
She was having none of it and told me that it was hidden under her bed and had her personal belongings in it. I just said, ‘I literally have no idea what you’re talking about!’
Then, she called my brother’s school, pulled him out of class and to the principal’s office where she started to accuse him as well. He denied it as well and had no idea what she was talking about. She believed him, so it must’ve been me. She then flew into a rage, tried to hit me, and threw stuff at me until I retreated back to my room. For two days, afterward, she just ignored me. She wouldn’t acknowledge my presence at all and spent that entire evening sobbing.
It was many years later, after I went down my own path of addiction, that I discovered the similarities between her boyfriend’s and her behaviors. It was then that I realized what must’ve been in that bag. I mean finding a hidden stash of illegal substances was the only thing that could’ve set off a parent so much so that their own children ceased to exist.
Till today, she has no memory of that incident whatsoever.”
“My mom told me that she would never sleep with a married man. I found out that my mom and my biological dad (who is divorced now) met each other while they were both still married. I also didn’t know about mom’s other marriage.”
“I know their bank and budget details. My parents were raised to never talk about their money. It was considered improper, which is not great when it comes to learning budgeting skills and so forth (Google saved my wallet). When I was really young, we didn’t have much of it, and I’m sure that influences my attitudes as well.
My dad was forced to retire because his job qualifications were changed, and he needed more school versus having an early retirement after working this one job that he had had his whole entire life. My mom had a government-funded job that got cut this year. I was worried about their finances, and I wasn’t planning on helping them out for at least another decade, so I’ve been anxious for them. I accidentally overheard them debating over some stuff while visiting for Christmas.
His 401k is okay, and it turns out, he did get his pension but just at a reduced rate. I’m going to keep an eye on their needs, but I think they’re going to be okay minus any emergencies.”