They saying "hindsight is 20/20" applies perfectly to childhood. When looking back on your younger years, you realize that your parents probably didn't have it all together like they wanted you to think. You may even find out a few family secrets (hopefully nothing too scarring). Turns out, parents are making it up as they go along, just like the rest of us. Who knew?! Read on to find out what these Redditors found out about their parents after they grew up.
Content has been edited for clarity.
“This is about to sound fake, but here it goes: about a year ago, during my sophomore year of college, I got the craziest phone call from my oldest sister. She revealed to me that while my two younger brothers were clearing up the bedroom that my parents used to sleep in (they are now separated) so that one of my brothers could take over the room, my youngest brother found a diary. It belonged to my mom.
Being a nosy creep, he decided to read the diary and found out that we have another sister (older than my youngest brother, but younger than my other brother). It turns out, about 17 years ago, my mother gave birth to a girl without knowing she was actually pregnant. The rest of my siblings and I were sent to another country (because having someone babysit four children is expensive) to stay with family. The baby girl was delivered in a car. In a panic, because they were extremely strapped for cash with my dad being in between jobs, they decided to leave her on a bench in front of a local hospital. My dad immediately called the hospital to let them know that she was out there. The nurses took her in and she was healthy.
We have still yet to find her because we can’t exactly afford a PI to go find her, but one day, when I’m in a better position with my life, I will.”
The Essay That Put Her Own Life Into Perspective
“My mom drinks a bit, and as her children have moved out and on, the quantity she’ll drink each night with/after dinner has increased quite a bit. Anyway, recently she told me that she can’t drive at night anymore due to cataracts. I kind of went ‘alright that makes sense’ because her 90 year old father has cataracts as well.
Yesterday, I read a nonfiction piece called ‘Why Aren’t You Laughing?’ by David Sedaris about the author’s mother and her relationship with drinking. In it, his mother uses the exact same excuse, and he states that he and his sisters knew that the real reason was she was too obliterated by sundown to drive.
That was a really big ‘Oh’ moment for me. I had to put the book down for a few minutes after I read that section.
It’s weird, she and I are very close. But one kind of unspoken conversation taboo is how much she drinks. Like, I’ve known about this issue before I read that essay, and I’ve taken note especially recently–every time I visit it seems worse. I live super far away so I don’t see her much (only about once a year), but my younger sister visits really often, and she doesn’t hold back nearly as much as I do. She calls my mom out on her drinking constantly, and it usually just ends in a screaming match between the two, from the few instances I’ve witnessed first hand.
I went home for my annual visit over Christmas and at one point I tried a less hostile approach–my mom was on the hunt for some drinks and I suggested we go to dinner without it since we couldn’t find a place. Didn’t go super well. On the plus side, she asked me to mail her the book with the essay I mentioned in it, and I’m hoping that when she reads that piece maybe, hopefully, it’ll be a wake up call. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep trying to get through as best I can, figuring out how is just taking a while.”
Had No Idea Mom Was A Hero
“My mom was a nurse in the neonatal unit (premature babies). There’d be days she’d come home and it was obvious she’d been crying. At the time, I’d give her a hug and tell her to feel better then go play outside or back to my video games not thinking much of it. I was ten.
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that it dawned on me, that often the reason she had been crying was because a baby had died on her shift. I can’t even imagine having to deal with that on a semi regular basis. She later told me she was often responsible for supporting the parents and one of her talents was making clay moulds of the deceased babies hands as a keepsake for the parents. Thinking about doing that and having to make the moulds, made me realize that my mom was the most incredibly strong and compassionate person I’d ever known.
Immense respect to anyone in the first responders, medical or social work fields. You guys are heroes everyday and society all owes you a debt that can never be repaid.”
Where Was All This Money Growing Up?
“My father was a multimillionaire, but constantly claimed we were not well off.
It wasn’t until I went to college I started to sense that we weren’t ‘average.’ The first hint was when I went to orientation weekend at the college and at the initial welcome they were talking about financial aid. I had no idea what that was. Then, when it came time for me to speak with someone with financial aid, they asked all kinds of questions I couldn’t answer (like what our household income was). When she asked me how I planned to pay for college, I told her I didn’t know, that my father was paying. She asked about loans and I said I don’t know if he took one out this year or not, but that I had a signed, blank check in my bag to pay my tuition with.
When I got home and gave my dad the invoice for my tuition, I told him the financial aid department wanted a copy of his tax return to help me see if I qualified for assistance. He told me his tax return wasn’t anyone’s business.
A few months later, I was working for him and came across the bank’s yearly assessment of his finances where they determined his net worth to be over 10 million dollars.”
“My parents together made good money, but spent hardly any on the kids, or our house. We lived in a pretty old, not very nice house, and it was kind of embarrassing for me. Both parents drove maybe 2 or 3 year old cars, that I found out they just paid cash for after trading in their cars when they’d get to be like 5 years old. For them to buy us kids anything, literally anything, they would make us beg and ‘prove’ that we wanted it. We lived in a rural area, so a bicycle to get around was almost needed for my friends and I. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one until I was like 13, and it was a very cheap one that didn’t last more than a few months until a wheel bearing went out.
Meanwhile, the parents would go to Jamaica for two weeks every spring, down a pack of smokes a day, go out to eat without us, and other stuff, while my sister and I had to stay home and do chores. Seriously sounds like a Cinderella sort of story now.
I found out recently that the old man was making 80-90 grand a year when I was a kid, and my mom was making another 60-ish. I remember how bad they made me feel when I got a bicycle. I genuinely thought the family wasn’t going to be able to eat for a week because of it. Even in high school, I didn’t fully grasp the picture. I turned down a class trip to Costa Rica, because I didn’t think we could afford it, even though my mom and sister previously went to Europe for a month with a bunch of people. But once again, I thought it was different circumstances.
After going to college, living on my own, I started to understand things much more clearer, like cost of the vehicles, their vacations, eating out, the $20 a day smoke budget for them, etc. It hit me that they just didn’t want to spend anything on us, or me in particular. I wasn’t even a bad child, I’d do whatever they asked if me, never got in trouble, ‘A’ student, etc.”
“Take Some Time To Thank Your Parents”
“I never realized how poor we were and how well they handled it. We weren’t extremely poor to the point where we were homeless, but as I got older and started to penny pinch, I realized how much my parents had to. We regularly had grilled cheese or eggs for dinner, which I now realize is because they’re relatively inexpensive. Our vegetables were always grown in our tiny garden. Our grandmother was our only babysitter. My father worked triple overtime and my mother worked double. My mother would ‘splurge’ on a box of Franzia that would last a month. My father would always wear the same clothes for years.
We always had great holidays and they never skimped out on spending money on us if we needed it. It really does make me appreciate them.
A lot of people have asked me how two people who work so much are still poor, and I understand. Medical or debt issues aside, you have to realize that being poor is a never-ending system that is much harder than to just ‘work through it.’ If you work a minimum wage job and have to work so many hours to support your family, you do not have the time to job hunt, or money to buy clothes for interviews, or take time off to go to any sort of schooling. Many people are one large expense away from a financial hardship themselves. Two people can work a combined 140 hours a week, but after taxes, living expenses, insurance, transportation, and taking care of children, not much makes it through to savings. Take the time out of your day to thank your parents. You never know when you won’t have the ability to anymore.”
An Unlikely Hangout Spot
“My parents are 5 years apart in age, my mother being older. While I was growing up as the middle of 5 kids, I always saw my dad as the fun loving, kind of immature one, while my mom was a bit uptight.
It wasn’t until last year, when I was 20 years old, that I found out that every single one of their friends was associated with a local adult entertainment club.
Long story short, when my parents first got together, my dad jokingly asked to take my mom to a club, knowing she would say no. By his surprise, she agreed and off they went. Years later and they are weekly regulars.
My parents made good friends with many dancers, bartenders, and even the freaking Pepsi delivery guy of the place. They came around all of the time, knew my siblings and I well, and really became family.
They even became good buddies with the owner, who also owned a campground that he let us stay at for free all of the time. So, I’m sure they scored some cheap drinks knowing the bartenders and owner.
Seeing how all the different people aged and went down separate paths while all still keeping in touch was crazy. Some turned out great and some horrible.
It’s weird to grow up and realize your parents were young and fun once, too.”
“I Thought I Was Just Bad A Being An Adult”
“They had no idea what they were doing. Dad ran his own business for 20+ years and I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps starting my own. I started asking a lot of questions about business and how stuff is done and one day he sat me down, looked me in the eye and said, ‘I really don’t know how I made it work because 90% of the time, I had no clue what I was doing, but when you run a company everyone assumes you’re an expert. Convince them you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. Running a business isn’t stressful because of the calls and the work, it’s stressful because most of the time you’re lost and making things up as you go.’
I eventually told my mom about that conversation and she pretty much said the same thing.
All this time, I thought I was just bad at being an adult. Turns out, everyone is just winging in and hoping for the best. But Dad was never going to tell his kids that. My brother and I thought he was some sort of super hero and as I got older, I was real proud that my Dad owned a company. Other peoples Dads worked at companies, but my Dad owned one. Turns out all Dads are equal.”
A Traumatizing Divorce
“I only realized just a few days ago how horrible their divorce was. For the past few years, I thought it was just a regular divorce and I didn’t remember any of it (even though I was 12 at the time), but apparently my home was not a very good one at that time. My dad constantly accused my mom of cheating and threatened to kill her and himself. My mom was so scared she kept a knife under her pillow, and she stayed with him five months after the divorce because she was afraid he’d kill my brother and I. My dad constantly fought not only with my mom but with my brother, who was only a year older than me. He always told him that the divorce was his fault. My mom did awful things, too. She locked herself in a room and threatened to destroy some pictures of his family. He kicked down the door and stopped her. That’s the only thing I actually remember, the rest I’ve just been told.
Knowing this kind of sheds some light on why I’m so messed up. A few years ago, I hated my brother so much that I actually plotted to kill him. He hardly did anything to deserve it besides just being annoying. A year ago, I cut my tongue off and had it reattached at a hospital. I’ve since been treated for schizophrenia, but my therapist and I are beginning to suspect that I actually have depersonalization/derealization from my trauma. It makes a little more sense because cutting my tongue off and not speaking anymore might have been an extreme attempt to depersonalize, even if I didn’t know it.”
“I Choose Being A Bad Daughter Over Being A Bad Parent”
“They aren’t the good people they pretend to be and what they did to me was abuse. I made excuses for them for years. Then I saw them start to condition my kids and I wouldn’t allow it. I cut contact with them about 9 months ago.
They have harassed and stalked us. We upped our security at home, our kids’ schools have pictures of my parents on file so they know what to look for it they show up. They have dumped presents on our doorstep and have tried to force a confrontation three times. If they try again, I will call the police. I have already done so once. We are looking for a lawyer and hope to get a restraining order.
They have threatened to call CPS and claim I had a mental breakdown so they can get custody of my kids. I made sure to get back into therapy, so I can prove mental stability if necessary. Then they said they would sue for visitation. They don’t qualify. It has been agony and constant stress. I never know if they will show up or if they will call in a false report.
Most of my family disowned me for ‘breaking my parents’ hearts.’ The crazy stuff they did apparently doesn’t count. My mom has bipolar disorder and my dad likely has narcissistic personality disorder (my therapist and my sister’s therapist agree). I will protect my kids with everything I have in me. I won’t allow my parents to abuse them. I choose being a bad daughter over being a bad mother and I don’t regret it.”
“So, growing up, I had a fairly interesting parental situation. My parents were good friends with this other couple who had a daughter four years younger than me. When I was around seven, my parents got divorced, as did this other couple. Time goes by and my parents are busy relocating, I changed schools, etc. Then, my dad started dating the mom of this other couple. Apparently my mom thought this was strange, and having coincidentally moved close to the dad of this other couple, she went over to talk about it with him. Soon enough, they were dating as well. They both remarried. So this is how I lived my whole life, with my stepsister and I always together and living with the same 4 parents. It was always a funny thing to explain, but other than that I didn’t think much of it.
Over time, it became pretty clear that things were better off this way: my mom and stepdad were definitely more compatible and settled in fairly well. They were both kinda more reserved and family oriented. My dad and stepmom were doing well too, but seemed to value their own fun a little more. Just about every weekend that my stepsister and I were staying with my mom and stepdad, my dad and stepmom were constantly out partying. They always had new friends (always couples) coming in and very swiftly back out of their lives, which is something we got used to.
Fast forward to me at around 18 years old. I had just started dating my now-husband, and we were exploring our relationship together. We very quickly found out that we were pretty into some 50 Shades of Grey-esque kinks. Won’t go into too many details, but eventually we found out that there was a whole community for it in the area and we wanted to get involved. So we decide to go out to this club that specializes in themed events and is basically the pillar of the community around here. It was great, we made a lot of like-minded friends, etc. Then, we got introduced to the club’s DJ. We were told that he DJs all of the swingers community events in the area and that he sometimes DJs at the club in an effort to bring different kink communities together for one crazy party. That was when it hit me. I had heard of this DJ before. My dad and stepmom had mix tape CDs of his in their car and have mentioned this great DJ that they had become friends with several times. My parents were swingers, y’all. And not just my dad and stepmom – all of them.
I later confronted them about this, which is a whole other story, but also confirmed it was how my two sets of parents met as well.”
Her Father Became Everything She Feared
“I had inklings ever since I was 13, but it wasn’t until I actually started working for my father as an associate attorney that I realized how deeply chauvinistic his views were and, unfortunately, what it meant to be the only female attorney in a firm of men who had never had to consider what a woman coworker might think/feel about their comments.
As attorneys, we discussed the Kavanaugh hearings in detail. All the attorneys (except a younger associate, my age who kept shooting me half-apologetic, half-nervous glances), admitted they didn’t believe what Kavanaugh did when younger should impact him for the rest of his life, as they’d apparently spent their entire lives resisting the urge to take a woman by force when they wanted.
Apparently having no concern for my career, I asked, ‘You all spent your entire lives fighting the urge to physically and psychologically harm women so you could get off?’
My dad, who up until that point I thought had slightly chauvinist views that would crumble in the face of actual prejudice, told me I had been grossly inappropriate and needed to send a firm-wide email apologizing for my comment. I refused and told him he could fire me if that’s how he expected the world I, personally, as a woman and his freaking daughter existed in to function. He backed down.
He only backed down because I humanized the entirety of women for him. What. The. Heck. Dad. What. Is. Wrong. With. You.
I’m actually crying as I type this. How many other men feel this way? Why is this still a problem? He raised THREE DAUGHTERS. Does he have any idea how long his one son spent in failed relationship after failed relationship before finding someone patient enough to explain to him why his beliefs were harmful to over 50% of the population? He finally got it, at 29, and feels insane remorse. But God, what if he just blindly furthered our father’s awfulness, as so many sons do? Why did a woman have to be his teacher? Why isn’t this something he recognized himself? Most importantly, why isn’t the blind and undeserved arrogance of typical white men talked about more?!
I’m 31. Realizing your father is everything you fear in the random man is so horrifying. I literally don’t know what to do with myself.”
Real Life Teen Mom
“My mom had me when she was 18. She got pregnant in the spring before she graduated and she had me that fall. I’m 19 now and I graduated last spring and I can’t possibly imagine having a baby and raising it at this point in my life. I didn’t turn out perfect (no one does), but considering the circumstances she did an amazing job taking care of me (my dad wasn’t in the picture, but her parents and sister helped some).
That realization hit me when I graduated, and recently it hit me again even harder while I was trying to free up space on our computer. We’ve had it since like 2004 (with lots of upgrades and repairs since then obviously) and somehow there are still old documents and a few emails from back then. I read them out of curiosity and they don’t contain anything super personal or bad, but just the tone my mom used filling out dumb MySpace 20 questions word docs is so…childish? I guess? Like she was definitely an adult, but they seem like things I can easily imagine someone my age putting down. It just really hammered home the fact that she was literally just a teenager/young adult doing her best to raise a kid and keep her head above water. I always knew it was hard for her and that she was still really just a kid when she had me but it didn’t really feel real to me until I found those old files.”