“I don’t have a kid, but I think that I would be a good father, especially if my baby liked to go out drinking.”—Eugene Mirman.
In a perfect world, parents would agree on everything. Until the world becomes perfect, mothers and fathers will just have to compromise on decisions regarding their kin—whether it’s about punishment, reward, religion, or just what a “humane” bedtime is. Now ideally, such concessions don’t happen behind mom’s back, but as we said, it’s not a perfect world.
Reddit asked people to share the most scandalous, funny, and downright weird secrets ever kept between themselves and dear old dad. What don’t the moms of the world know? The answer: a lot. From secret meats to shocking affairs from childhood’s past, whisper as we share these 42 wild stories about the biggest “don’t tell mom” secrets ever kept between kids and dads.
42. Baby Steps Forward
When I was born, my mom had postpartum depression that triggered other mental illnesses in her. She spent a long time in a mental hospital, and apparently, I took my first steps while she was away in the hospital.
Then one day when my dad took me to visit her in the hospital, I started walking, and dad pretended that those were my first steps and that she got to witness them. I am sworn to never tell her.
41. Our Little Vacation
When I was 12 I had to go to summer school because my grades weren’t that great. My mom would take my brother and sister to the beach and theme parks, and do fun stuff because they got good grades.
I was crying because I didn’t want to go to summer school, I wanted to go with everyone and have fun too. My dad saw me crying and the next day pretended to take me to school, but instead we went to card shops, got Magic cards, played round after round of it, then got dinner and had a great day. He told me not to tell my mom or she’d get on both of our butts. Man, now I miss my dad.
40. Trigger Words
I was eight, my mom calls.
Dad: “Don’t tell your mother I let you shoot a gun.”
He hands me the phone.
Me: “I shot a gun!”
Mom: “Let me speak to your father.”
39. Shopping Sprees With Dad
When I was young, my mom sometimes visited her mother for a week or so by herself. When she left, my father took us “impulse shopping” at the grocery store and we would live for the week on whatever my dad, my brother and I picked out. I remember subsisting on liverwurst and gummy bears.
38. Kiss and Don’t Tell
When I was around the age of 16/17, I had a girlfriend that would come over every weekend. One of the rules was that the door was to remain open at all times. That was the rule, at least until my senior prom.
My girlfriend and I came back from a party and decided to “go all the way.” Even though it was late in the evening when we returned, my dad was waiting up for me to make sure I came home safe. He saw me and my girlfriend come in kissing and becoming intimate.
Before my girlfriend and I could do the deed, my dad called me to talk to me. I went into the room where he slipped me a condom and said, “Let’s keep this between the two of us and not tell mom.” Thanks for looking out for me, pops.
37. Playtime is Secret Time
A first grader I know told me “I play Call Of Duty with my Dad…but only when my mom’s not home. She can never find this out, but we kill EVERYTHING!”
36. Press the Pedal to the Secrets
I bought a motorcycle.
My dad said that we wouldn’t tell my mother… as long as he got to test drive the bike.
35. What Glitters Isn’t Gold
A friend of mine lived out in the country and there was a small pond on their property. She and her mom got back from a shopping trip one day to find that her father had stocked the pond with koi.
Her mom flipped out about how much money he’d wasted on fish. After mom stomped off into the house, dad leaned over and whispered, “They’re just goldfish, but don’t tell her!” and grinned.
34. One Dad’s Trash is Another Mom’s Treasure
My mother was somewhat of a hoarder. She taught elementary school and saved everything because “You never know what could be turned into a project.” Our garage would get so full of junk that you could hardly walk through it. So annually, my mother would go on this work-related retreat; and as her car was turning the corner and out of sight, a dumpster would be getting dropped off in our driveway.
For an entire day, my dad—giddy and covered in sweat—would be hauling out who knows what and tossing it.
My mother, of course, would immediately know things were missing and go absolutely ape. We’d spend the next few months afterward with her asking, “Did you throw (insert random item here that probably would have never been used again, except now as a source of ire against my dad) away too!!?” And my dad would look at us with, “Keep your friggin mouths shut” eyes and reply, “Oh no Dear, we wouldn’t have tossed that out. It’s probably still in the garage somewhere.”
Occasionally, my mom would go look to see for herself; but I think even she understood that it was an exercise in futility because if it was still there—good luck finding it, and if it wasn’t—how would you know for sure?
33. Why Miss Out on Cinematic History?
I was 12 and my mom was losing her damn mind over film ratings. Even the new PG-13 rating was off-limits. My dad and I went to the four-plex one day to see a movie and the options were crap, crap, crap, and some movie called Die Hard. We looked at the posters, we looked at each other and he said, “I won’t tell your mother if you don’t.”
Best first R-rated movie ever.
32. Double Deposit
My favorite were trips home from college. My mom would slip me some cash and tell me not to tell Dad. My dad would slip me some more cash and tell me not to tell Mom.
I’ve still never told.
31. What Happens in the DVD Player, Stays in the DVD Player
My dad likes to download movies. Regular box office type stuff.
Welp, he downloaded Anchorman, and he started it up to make sure it worked, and it was a porno using Anchorman characters.
We cracked the heck up and then never spoke of it again.
30. Hitting the Rags
When I was about 10, my dad found a porno magazine in my possession—it was the ‘90s. He never told my mom and all he said was “Well, at least you’re not gay.” Again, it was the ‘90s.
29. I Won’t Tell If You Won’t
Once, my dad and I both had the same idea to play hooky from work/school as a long con to avoid going to my mom’s Christmas party at her school. We both hate hearing the children sing Christmas carols tone deaf, and my mom hates it when we don’t go and suffer with her because then she has to suffer through it alone.
I remember both of us coming out of our bedrooms and literally bumping into each other because we both thought we were the only one home. We locked eyes and knew the truth.
28. Carving Up a Surprise
I once wondered why Dad was spending so much time away from home when he was off work. He always used to be home reliably when work got out.
Then one day I noticed his truck parked on a more rural road not far from a friend’s house. What I discovered was that he was back there in a “wood mill” type place, using a wood-splitter machine to cut logs into different sizes.
He made me promise not to tell Mom that he was earning extra money doing this part-time work to save up money to take her on an anniversary trip she had dreamed of, but which he couldn’t afford on the salary from his regular job.
I gave him a BIG hug and kept that secret. And what a trip they had—I don’t think I had ever seen Mom so happy!
27. My Father, My Wingman
My parents were shopping for a new bed for my first year of college and I picked out a full-sized mattress. Super comfy and huge compared to the twin-sized I’d been sleeping in up to that point. My dad took me aside and said, “Don’t tell your mother, but I’m glad you got a full-sized because I was wondering what you’d do if you had a woman over.”
26. She Didn’t See the Signs
I was 16 or 17, I had to send off an application form for something or another. I asked my father where the form was, and he said, “You were about to miss the deadline, so I signed your name to it and sent it off.”
Later that same week, I needed my mother’s signature for something or another. That evening I was home with my parents and my mother asked me about the second document, and I said, “We were about to miss the deadline, so I signed your name to it and sent it off.”
She went absolutely breaking ape, screaming her head off about how you should never ever commit forgery under any circumstances. My dad and I didn’t even need to exchange knowing glances, it was pretty clear what we were both thinking, was I or was I not going to say to my mother, “Dad did the same thing the day before yesterday.” I didn’t say it.
25. Late Night Munchies
When I was six, I woke up because of a nightmare, everyone was asleep except my dad, he was still up watching TV. He saw that I was really scared so he took me out in my PJs to get Pizza Hut. Told me to keep it a secret because mum never allowed us to have junk food.
Still haven’t told her…
24. Just a Sip Between Us
Dad was sitting in my room having a conversation with me, reached for a water bottle sitting on my desk and took a big swig. Of vodka.
He didn’t even react much other than the momentary surprise of tasting alcohol instead of water, but he still hasn’t told.
23. Holy, Father!
Back in middle school, my mom wanted me to become confirmed at our church. I wasn’t interested at all. Every Wednesday night I had to go to church and sit through three hours of boring class with other bored kids. They wanted us to take notes of the Sunday service and do “homework.” I thought it was a waste of time and I already had enough homework from actual school.
The first time my dad drove me, I complained the whole car ride there. I whined and moaned for a solid 10 minutes on our way there. As we drove into the lot of the church, I let out an over-exaggerated sigh and opened the car door to get out. “Do you really hate it?” he asked me. I nodded. “Ok, get back in the car.”
We drove to a local video store that sold used games. We spent over an hour digging through bins looking for old NES games (I collected them . . . this was around 1997). He showed me a bunch of old movies from his day that he thought I would like. He bought me a few games and movies and we left. It wasn’t time yet . . . if we came home this early, mom would have known something was up, so we went for ice cream. We sat outside of the drive-thru malt shop on a bench in the summer sun and watched the cars and motorcycles drive by, talking. He checked his watch and said, “We better get home soon, church just got out.”
We drove home, and he parked in the garage. Before getting out and going in the house, he looked at me and said, “Don’t tell your mother.”
Of course, I didn’t. My dad took me to “church” every Wednesday night for the remainder of the year. When it was finally time to be confirmed, I had to meet with the pastor to talk. He told me how many classes I had missed and said that I would have to do it all over again next year. “Oh crud,” I thought, “Mom is going to kill me.” I walked out to the parking lot with my head hanging low and I told my dad what happened. He told me to wait in the car. He went inside, came out five minutes later and said, “You passed.”
I don’t know what he said to the pastor, but it worked. We drove to our favorite ice-cream spot and laughed about how much trouble we’d be in if my mom found out. We drove home and pulled into the garage. Before getting out and going in the house, he looked at me and said, “Don’t tell your mother.”
I’ll never forget how much fun we had. He was just like me, acting like a kid who knew he was doing what he shouldn’t be. We thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
22. Dropping the Bomb
I was in sixth grade (1996). I was on a science class field trip to one of the nearby rivers where we were building 55-gallon drum pontoon boats for… science reasons. Anyway, my dad shows up about 10 in the morning and tells the teacher I have an appointment I need to go to, urgently. I wasn’t aware of any such appointment, but when your dad says you have one, you have one. So I leave with him and ask him WTF we’re doing; he simply says, “You’ll see.”
So we ride on his motorcycle for a while, and eventually, I realize we’re at the airport. But not the airport entrance, the back side. He pulls off into a grassy area next to a fence overlooking the main runway and pulls out a picnic blanket, a pair of binoculars, and a then-new-and-awesome laser pointer. He was very proud of and jealously guarded his big bulky fold-out laser pointer, so by now I was suuuuuper confused and a little concerned.
That is, until about 10 minutes later, when an airplane landed. But not any airplane. It was the Northrop B-2, an aircraft that had only been announced to the world some six months prior. My tiny little mind was BLOWN. We were honestly a good mile away from it, and obviously we weren’t the focus of the visit, so we used the binoculars to get good looks at it, and like little budding terrorist idiots we shined the laser pointer at it to see if it would reflect at all (“science!”). It did not, even though it reflected off the concrete directly below it.
Eventually, it took off again and left, and we and the other 50 assorted people started rolling up our tarps and heading out. Except, I’m guessing the crew saw us with our faces plastered up against the fence, because a few minutes later as we were finishing packing, they flew right over our heads, at no more than 500 feet. The worst part was, not a single one of us heard him coming. He was right over our heads by the time anybody noticed.
It was the most glorious thing young me had ever seen.
When we were finally done and riding back out, my dad looks me right in the eye and says, “Son, if Mom asks you what you did today, you had a great time building boats, right?”
One of the best memories I ever had growing up. I’m sure my mom knew, but she knew better than to ask.
21. Our Underground Theater
My parents are very conservative and were extremely strict about what we watched as kids. We weren’t allowed to watch anything but Christian kids’ shows. When my mom was out my dad showed us Blazing Saddles, Die Hard, and Harold and Maude, along with other “inappropriate” movies.
20. What They Don’t Teach You in Health Class
My mom walked in on me and an ex getting it on and flipped out. She told my father—they were divorced—and hoped he would talk some sense into me. He said five words about it: “Next time, get a lock.”
19. Something Smells Off
My dad died when I was super young, so I have almost zero memories of him. But one of the only ones I do have was a “Don’t tell your mother” moment.
He had a dirt bike—the kind with a motor—and was riding me around the barn, sitting in front of him on the bike. Knowing my mother, she was probably freaking out about it. On one of the laps around the barn he lost control, probably from going too slow, and dumped us both in a manure pile.
He set the bike back up, put me back in front of him, said, “Don’t tell your mother”, and off we went again.
18. My Dad the Daredevil
My father grew up in the country and was always doing Tom Sawyer-type stuff. There are plenty of times where he had to tell me not to “tell mom,” but one story has anyways stood out. He used to take me to a train bridge where we would precariously meander our way down the hill so that we could get under the bridge on one side of the river.
One false move, or if you slipped ducking under the giant I-beam, it was instant death on the jagged rocks below. We would just hang out and throw rocks into the river until a train would pass over top of us which is an insane rush to many of your senses.
One time specifically, I remember ducking under the I-beam and slipping. His dad reaction kicked in and he threw me away from the edge by my coat, surely saving me from certain death.
He was a great man with a thousand ways to make my mother have a heart attack. He tried most of them and I came out without a scratch… Well, only stitches three times because I didn’t listen to his instructions implicitly.
I miss that man. A lot. A real lot. Holy crap this is buried. Oh well, if one person reads it and sees how awesome my dad was then my mission is accomplished.
17. Everything is Kindle if You Try Hard Enough
One time, my dad bought some new shoes, and instead of throwing out his old ones like a normal person, he decided to burn them. So he threw them into our wood stove and lit them on fire. Pretty soon, black smoke was coming out of the chimney and he put out the fire.
16. Late-Night Alliances
Me and my dad have a silent agreement that as long as I don’t let my mom that he’s watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta at 3 am, he won’t tell my mom that I’m online at 3 am.
15. Father and Son’s Day Off
Sometimes when I would be having a bad day in middle school, my Dad would take off work, take me out of school early, and we’d go to a White Sox game.
14. The Fast and The Fatherly
One time I’m riding home with my dad in high school. We are stopped at a red light when up pulls a pair of upperclassmen in their Camaro. The light we are stopped at is a known racing spot as the two lanes at the light merge into one about a quarter mile down the road. They start revving their engine and my father mumbles, “Don’t tell your mom.” He turns his head, nods it in acknowledgment, and waits.
Back before I was born my dad had a Gremlin and a Mustang. He has raced some in his past. We are sitting on the line in his new V6 turbocharged manual Passat. But these kids don’t know it. They are ready to race and think this will be a gimme.
The light turns green. We smoke them off the line and destroy them to the lane merge. My dad had a smile on his face all the way home.
13. No Questions Asked
The day before high school, my dad had a talk with me about drinking. He made me a promise saying something to the effect of, “If you are ever in a situation where you’re drunk, your driver is drunk, etc. you can call me, and I’ll pick you up. No matter what time it is, know I will be there for you and I will not be mad or tell your mother.”
Well, during my junior year, I lied to my parents and told them I was sleeping over at my best friend’s house. Instead, I went to a kegger with my friends. We got wasted and the party ended about two. My friend that drove was drunk and insisted that she was fine to drive. All I could hear was my father’s voice giving me that talk.
So, I called him. He was all groggy but made the 45-minute drive to pick me up. Not only did he take me home, but my two friends as well. It was a silent car ride and I just felt like he was going to explode once my friends were out of the car.
That was 10 years ago, and he still hasn’t talked about it to this day. If any of you have children entering this age, I suggest you make the promise with your children. Who knows what could have happened to us that night if he wasn’t there for me.
For those of you asking how he got “away with it,” he’s a doctor and often gets calls in the middle of the night to go to the hospital. My mom wouldn’t have known the difference. He said he felt no guilt not telling her, as it could have ended up a much more difficult conversation. He was amused that this got some much attention and jokingly snarled at me for that night that happened 10ish years ago.
12. A Brush With Subtlety
My dad, my two brothers, and I were painting the basement as a surprise to my mom, and then she called mid-paint I answered the phone—keep in my mind I was six.
My dad told me not to tell her about the basement as it was a surprise, so my exact words were “Mom, we’re definitely not painting the basement.”
11. The X(-Ray) Files
Well, my dad died when I was younger, so here’s a story from the days I would hang out in the county courthouse while my mom was a secretary there. Because I spent a decent amount of time there, I was known by almost everyone there including the security guards. I spent most days wandering about, watching druggies get sent to prison, fighting divorcees, and interacting with various attorneys, now that I think back it reminds me of a TV show.
My favorite person to spend time with was a particular bailiff with the mouth of a sailor and the sense of humor of a, well, person with a good sense of humor. One afternoon I remember coming in and there was a particular buzz of excitement in the air, something changed. I turn a corner and there, standing in all its radiation filled glory was a new x-ray machine, the kind with a conveyer belt for the little bins of phones and such. My mind was racing with possibilities for things to put through, staplers, shoes, phones, and whatever I could get my grubby little hands on.
One other thing stood out to me, my favorite bailiff, Joe, was on security desk duty. We both had the same idea. As soon as mom was distracted with work I race down to Joe and we get started. Several office supplies-filled hours pass, and we are at a loss of what to do, we just finished comparing the X-rays of various stapler brands and it hits me, I will put my head in it. I know in neighboring counties people have put their hands in it and were fine so, this was obviously the next step. It took a bit of persuasion, but Joe agrees.
We start out small with my hand and work our way up to entire arms. The time has come, the day is slow, and no one is coming. I stick my head in just pass the rubber fringe in front and say the word. The Machine buzzes and whirs and it starts, 2 or so seconds in and all is well, but my shoulder touches the belt and I’m pulled in. I whoosh through the 3 feet long machine and go towards the light and emerge in a manner that was later described as a birth. Joe has a look of both fear and fascination, and I swiftly fall of the conveyor to the ground.
I stand and there in the monitor is my torso, ribs, sternum, keys in my pockets and all. I’m proud in an odd way and we quickly flip through the different colored versions highlighting different parts of myself. We are pleased and agree to never speak of it to my mother again.
10. Hard to Hide
“Don’t tell your mother but I bought a seaplane.” That one didn’t last long…
9. Dirty Stinking Rich
Dad went for a fart and accidentally followed through, he ruined the pants my mum had gotten him for his birthday.
I was in the room gagging, whilst I was choking and tearing up he says, “This stays between us”. Proceeds to give me 20 quid and shuffles to the toilet. The money smelt of poo.
8. Girls Stick Up For Themselves
One day in middle school, I, a 120lb. female, got into a huge fist fight with a bunch of guys from my school. They had beat me up before, but that day, I wasn’t having it. I decided to fight back. Long story short, I got the snot beat out of me, but I put up a really good fight and threw a few solid punches. I came home on the bus covered in blood and bruises.
Now, my mother would’ve been pissed at me for “instigating” the fight, and probably would’ve taken it out on me. She was a bad mother, TBH, so I was sooo glad that, when I walked through the door looking like Ed Norton in Fight Club, that only my father was home.
He took one look at me and told me to get in the car. I thought I was gonna die that day.
Well, he drove me to Walmart.
And he told me to pick out whatever video game I wanted.
Got some crummy first-person-shooter game (mid-2000s…can’t remember which one) and we went home, ordered a pizza, and played for about three hours until my mom came home.
He told me not to tell my mother about the games/pizza or that I got into a fight. I asked him a few years later why he did it. He said that he was just so proud of me for fighting back but couldn’t directly praise me for getting into a fight.
It’s one of my favorite memories.
7. Where’s the Beef?
My dad remarried a year ago. His wife is vegan and pushed her lifestyle on him, so now he is supposed to be vegan.
Anyway, the other day me and dad were driving somewhere, and I was starving so I pulled over to a burger joint and ordered a meal. Dad was like, “Make it two.” then he looked me dead in the eyes and was said, “Don’t tell my wife.”
6. DIY Dad
My dad and myself got some pretty sweet gas-powered RC cars for Christmas. I was 13 at the time, and I mentioned to my father “Dad, It would be really awesome if we took some wood and made a ramp off the back of the truck.”
So my father’s response? “Let’s wait until your mother’s gone for work.”
Fast forward 20 minutes, mom’s gone off to work. And we’ve set up the holy mother of all RC ramps up the back of the truck and were launching these RC cars over the house. Both found it really hilarious, until I messed up and didn’t hit the jump fast enough. Ended up sending it through the window.
Dad’s response as he looks at his watch. “Guess what kid? You’re going to learn how to replace a window today before your mom gets home…”
Six hours later, received one of the many life lessons from my Dad. He was such a cool cat, we had many stories like this. So many.
I’ll miss him. He was the best. He died just this last year. But goddamn the old coot, spent a long time before he died setting up a secret “pirate map” with an old chest buried out on our property. It had our favorite bottle of drink that we sat down and drank together when we were getting older, along with a diary of “Hey kid. Remember this? You’ll be a strong woman when you grow up, I taught you a lot of things that will help you later on in life. Don’t lose sight of what’s important.” Ahh..
When I found the box, I must’ve cried like a baby for about 10 hours outside reading that. And the final page said, “It’s okay to cry. I’ll miss you.”
5. Father of All Transportation
When I was a teenager I did a stupid stunt and landed myself 3 days in local ICU with a massive concussion.
It was right before summer vacation and I hit my skull so hard the doctors advised no bike riding, skateboarding, or swimming for three months. As a 17-year-old kid with no drivers license yet all my forms of transportation minus walking were not available to me.
One night, my dad has a few beers and gets hungry. It’s like close to midnight and everywhere that can deliver close by is closed. He knew a local bar was open with some great chicken wings. Told him it was a great idea, but he was drunk and could not drive. His idea: bike ride. It was only maybe five miles from our house and his logic is if we stick to back roads and I wear a helmet everything will be fine, and not tell my mother. After a month and a half of being home bound I was okay with this.
We leave and HE’S the one that hits a parked car, twice. Once on the way there and once back, same car too. He was right, the chicken wings were great, but when we got back home my mother woke up and figured out we left and how we got there. She wasn’t happy, but it was worth it.
4. A Sweet Treat Before It Ends
When I was in kindergarten my dad would routinely show up, sign me out of class, and take me for ice cream. Best memory ever.
In retrospect, my dad knew he was dying, and passed when I was 6. He routinely did stuff like this. I feel as if I missed nothing, I’m now 35.
3. Hang On, Kid
When I was 15 I used to skateboard up and down my street from the time I got home from school until I went to work. One day my Dad met me at the end of the road coming home from his job and told me to grab onto the bumper of his 1993 Bronco.
I held it for a bit but at around 20 MPH I started to lose control, and the wobble was too hard to handle. I was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I destroyed my forearms and legs. I was scabbed up for quite a while, and my Mom never knew that it was because I was pulled behind the car. I told her I went down a nearby hill too fast and lost control.
My Dad wrote me a couple sick notes for my silence, and I got to stay home from school, and mess around for a couple days.
2. Behind the Scenes Look
I have usually thought my parents have had a perfect relationship all my life. My parents never fought in front of us or in general. This was because my dad worked morning and my mom worked graveyard, they had no time to fight. Me and my brothers asked a few times growing up what their worst fight was. My mom had always said that my dad had said to her “I don’t think he’s my kid” (about me) and every time my dad heard this story he would always say there is one other fight that was much worse. He never went into detail. And it was always left at that. My mom never spoke of the other either.
Fast forward to when I was about 20. In a committed relationship with my (now wife and mother to my child) girlfriend. Had a really rough fight that I thought was going to be it for us. Called my dad for some advice for everything that was going on…
He started it like this… Don’t ever tell or mention to your mom that I told you about this. Don’t tell your girlfriend and don’t tell your brothers. This stays between you and me ok?
He ended telling me about their worst fight. My mom had ended up cheating on him sometime after they had gotten married. My dad had told her this: “I’m leaving (country name). Your choice. You can come with me and we put this behind us or you can stay.”
This moment has changed my life drastically. In relationships, I kept looking for someone I’d never fight with and had a perfect relationship. It made me realize you have to work towards a relationship and that it can’t be perfect. My girlfriend and I separated for a few nights then made up.
My parents are still married after 30+ years. And this moment I had with my dad was one the one I am most grateful for.
1. Worth Every Page
I was really into Enid Blyton books when I was eight, but new books were a luxury that my family couldn’t really afford. On paydays, my dad would bring me to the bookstore to grab a few new books and we’ll sneak them home without telling mum.
Looking back, my dad probably had to scrimp on some meals then, but it did encourage my lifelong love for reading.