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20 dads share their 'don't tell mom' stories that they still keep secret.

20 dads share their 'don't tell mom' stories that they still keep secret.


It doesn't matter how unified your parents are when it comes to rules, most kids have a few stories that fall under the 'don't tell mom (or dad)' umbrella.

These rare instances of secret alliance with one parent make an experience that much more special. After all, everything is cooler when it's done in secret. One of the funnest parts of becoming a parent is being able to continue the tradition of keeping (harmless) secrets from mom (or dad).

In a popular Reddit thread, Dads and grown kids alike shared their best 'don't tell mom stories.'

1. From schnoj:

My wife or I will write notes and put them in our 9 year old son's lunch box most days. One day my wife's note was found by a boy named Max in my son's class and read aloud to his table. Needless to say my son came home quite embarrassed. Since I'm currently unemployed I went to have lunch with my son at school the next day. Towards the end of lunch, he points the boy out to me. We have always preached turning the other cheek, telling the teacher, etc, but something about this kid's face made all those teachings fly out of window. I told my son 'now listen, I'm going to tell you something you can say to him but you cannot tell your mother.'

My son replies that he'll keep our secret so I give him a pretty mild burn and tell him to use it discretely. Fast forward to that evening and my wife is signing the daily conduct sheet upon which is written 'Your son came into the classroom after lunch and yelled to the entire class that Max's mother doesn't send him notes because she doesn't love him'. He didn't rat me out to the teacher but I fell on the sword for him at home.

2. From ProdigalEden:

Not dad but son, When I was about 5 years old I was playing hide and seek with my mom and dad, Dad would pick a spot for me to hide and mom would come looking. Dad decided mom would never find me if he opened the window and put me out onto the roof of the balcony a floor below us (3 story apartment house).

3. From Scrappy_Larue:

I brought my sons, 5 and 10, to Circus Circus in Las Vegas for a weekend. I lost the younger one for a full 5 minutes at one point. Scariest 5 minutes of my life, and mom never heard about it.

4. From Myzyri:

My parents divorced and my mom remarried. When I was about 10, she became a bit of a holy roller. When I say 'a bit,' I mean 'off the deep end.' For context, this was the mid-80's.

Suddenly, cartoons were evil. I couldn't watch He-Man, Voltron, Richie Rich, Tom & Jerry. Nothing! She could see evil in anything. Smurfs taught homosexuality. He-Man taught witchcraft. Richie Rich taught greed. And so on..magazines were evil too. I was at the age where driving was in sight, so I had various car magazines coming to the house. Not anymore! Why? Because the sexy bikini-laden car models taught 'hyper sexuality' and it would turn me into a rapist. Don't even get me started on video games either. I was only allowed to play religious video games and watch religious cartoons. Also, no TV in my room anymore because if I was left alone with a TV, I'd end up being influenced into being a gay, murdering, Satan-worshipping warlock!

My dad and step-dad hated each other, but looking back, they both looked out for my best interests. They both thought my mother's religious stuff was a bit nuts, too. So, they had some common ground. As a side note, my step father must have a special place reserved in Heaven for him because he stuck with her through a decade of absolute hard-core religious fanaticism. She's much more reserved now.

Anyway, on weekends, I'd see my dad. When I'd get there, he'd have a couple VHS tapes ready for me. All my favorite cartoons! He and I would spend half a day binge watching all that animated evil! And my car magazines were now being delivered to his house, so I got those too.

My dad bought me a small TV for my room. It was a 13 inch camping TV. It was about the size of a milk crate. My room had a lot of angles in the walls and ceiling, so I had some good hiding spots. My mom went on a retreat and came back all gung-ho thinking I was on drugs because the evangelist said that any child who wasn't as interested in church as their parents is a child who's being influenced by the devil and most likely is on drugs.

My step-dad said he'd search my room for the drugs. She and I stood and watched. He ended up finding the TV (which was in a box in a hidey-hole behind my bed), but he didn't tell her. He found my stash of Mad Magazines too (to her, those were '100% filth!'). He didn't tell her about those either. After saying my room was 'clean,' she left. He walked out with a wink.

When I came back from school the next day, my step dad had moved my bed and built me a 'fort' in the hidey-hole that had a little entertainment center built into the backside of my headboard. He also added two brand new gaming systems. It was cramped, but whenever my mom was off, he and I would gather around my tiny TV in the hidey-hole and play video games. Why hide? Because he wasn't allowed to play video games either and he didn't want to get caught either.

Whenever she'd come in, we'd pull the cord on the entertainment center which dumped legos out and covered the tv and video game consoles. We'd tell her we were playing legos. She'd ask why we were in the tiny hidey-hole and he'd just be like, 'Forts are awesome, babe!' She thought we were nuts, but we got away with it.

Cheers to all the dads who helped us get away with sh*t!

5. From theseasickcrocodile:

When I was a kid, my dad would mow the lawn and then sneak up to the local dive bar and have a beer before my mom noticed he was done. I grew up in a town of roughly 1,200 people and the bar was two blocks away so it was totally feasible. My dad used to bring me with him, bribe my silence with a $1 bag of redskin peanuts and a can of Mountain Dew. My mom always knew because I'd slip up about the peanuts a day or two later.

Fast forward to being 24. I'd just moved to a new state after grad school with my then-boyfriend's job, I was underemployed at the time and my only company was my new kitten. I didn't tell my parents but I think my dad always knew I was miserable. One day I got a package from home that was 1 lb of redskin peanuts. He tracked down the vendor from the bar and bought them in a bulk bag. Still warms my heart when I think about it three years later.

6. From Aimlesskeek:

At 16 my parents helped me get a car; the keys to freedom were: Per Dad: no tickets, pay my own gas and maintenance. Per Mom: home by curfew, after a few close calls/negotiating a few extra minutes with upset Mom, Dad recommends I call him if I'm cutting it close. Really...?

From then on, I'd call Dad, he'd tell Mom that he would wait up, aka fall asleep in the lazy boy. This was a 2 birds one stone deal. He got parenting cred from Mom (go on to bed, honey) and a good night's nap in the lazy boy until I drifted home.
Miss you Dad.

7. From londongarbageman:

My oldest caught me being the tooth fairy. She agreed that telling mom or her brother might ruin it for them more. She still gets her silver dollar if she loses a tooth, I just don't have to be such a ninja to give it to her.

8. From gogojack:

I'm a dad, but this story is about my dad.

It was the summer before my last year at college. A friend of mine got a job across country and he decided to take the opportunity to see as much of America as possible before he had to start work. He asked me to come along. It was going to be a month long road trip. We'd contacted a few friends and relatives along the way where we could crash, the company was paying for gas and 5 nights hotel, and we brought along a tent for the days we didn't have a place to stay. I'd saved up a little money at my summer job.

The night before we left, my dad was sitting in his recliner reading the paper as always. I sat there on the couch watching TV.

Now, my dad was a very conservative man. Old school. The kind of 'kids should be seen and not heard' parent. Not big on emotional displays. Frugal to a fault.

So after everyone else had turned in for the night, it was just me and him. He motioned me over, and pulled out an envelope he had hidden. Looked at me over his reading glasses and said 'don't tell your mother about this' as he handed me the envelope.

It was filled with money. Not a lot by today's standards but a lot in 1986 and without a doubt more money than I'd ever seen my dad carry. I sat down and said 'I don't know what to say.'

He responded 'have fun' and went back to his newspaper.

He died six months later. That moment was the last real one on one interaction I had with my father. A little while after he'd died, my mom was going through his dresser drawer when she found his stash. Apparently my dad had been squirreling away cash for years. Walking around money for when he went on one of his many fishing trips. He dipped into it so that I'd have some walking around money on my trip.

9. From white_butterfly1:

You know those noise maker gunpowder bangy things? Explaining to my daughter that you can put them in your hand and headbutt them to make them explode. We went through an entire packet of them that day...

10. From optimaloutcome:

One night I was enjoying a small bit of ice cream after my four year old daughter went to bed. She came downstairs and 'caught' me. So I offered her a small bite, but since she was supposed to be in bed, I said 'don't tell mom.' She assured me she wouldn't. My wife wouldn't have cared anyway but it was a fun little game to play.

After she went up to bed and I was down on the couch, she snuck in to the master bedroom where mom was resting. She told mom that I had let her have some ice cream, and she was afraid of 'sugar bugs' so could she please brush her teeth again.

My wife just laughed at me the next day. Little sh*t ratted me out to brush her teeth, something she doesn't like doing anyway.

11. From __slamallama__:

Went fishing in questionable conditions. Left the harbor in 6-8 foot waves in a 19' boat. Probably shouldn't have gone out at all in retrospect.

Had a great day off fishing in the lee of a point.

Start to head home and things have deteriorated big time. Going home in 10-12' waves, with big ones hitting 14'. Struggling to even make it through them.

All this is happening in late November in the north Atlantic. Bad f*cking news if anything goes wrong. No one else is out there to help us.

My dad tells me at one point 'Take your life jacket off. It won't help out here, it will just make the inevitable take longer. We make it home or we don't. I love you.'

To this day, that's the only time I have been scared on a boat, and I have been in some serious situations.

When we made it back he said 'never tell your mom what I told you. That is between you and I.'

So yeah that's my craziest don't tell mom story.

Edit: first thanks for the gold I guess.

Second this happened off Montauk point in a ripping ebb (current going out quickly) so the if anything happened we would be a mile offshore within a few minutes. We were on the VHF with some friends on shore but the reality of the situation is that no one short of a helicopter will be fast enough to get there before you go hypothermic (water was in the mid 50's and air in the mid 40's). And even with a helicopter it would be highly unlikely that we get found in those waves.

Last I'm not gonna stand up for being out there in those conditions, it wasn't smart, but to be fair we left in very acceptable conditions with a forecast saying the winds would be calming down. For us 6-8's are not outlandish at all, and I will go fishing any day of the week in that. And when we went out the breeze was going with the tide, so the waves were much longer. We fished underneath the cliffs at the point all day listening to NOAA still tell us the wind was dying. We didn't know it had picked up until we rounded the point to go home and realized not only had the breeze picked up but when the tide switched they were not going against each other so the waves were standing much more vertical.

Oh forgot to add that yes my dad is a total bada*s. He has been in conditions much worse than that, and understands the realities of being offshore. He's always taught me that you have to respect the ocean and once you don't, you're dead.

12. From Pingly:

Buying extra candy for Halloween. I was afraid my wife wouldn't pick up enough (she works at Costco) so I took my daughter to the store and told her we'd buy stuff we like that way we could eat it all year if we didn't use it but we had to hide it from my wife until Halloween.

We have a 'no lying' rule so I told my daughter we'd tell her Mom AFTER she bought her candy at work in a few days.

When my wife got home from work that night my daughter immediately said 'Daddy, can I please tell Mommy about the candy?' right in front of my wife.

I'll be honest, I'm just glad that my 8-year-old daughter is such a terrible liar.

13. From butterflytesticles:

I was once a resourceful young lad and would ride bikes with a friend to the recycle center behind some stores. We would jump in the magazines bin and pull out all the playboys, hustlers, sports illustrated swimsuit edition, and well, anything with pictures of girls.

Sometimes we sold them to our middle school peers and as fate would have it, some kid ratted me out when he got caught with it. My mom launched an all out search for the pornos. She found somewhere near 200 (about 50% of the loot). They were all on the dining room table when I got home from school. Mom wouldn't even talk to me and just said 'wait until your father gets home'.

A couple hours later, I get yelled at by both parents, grounded for a month, no tv, no phone, no friends, etc. When I wouldn't give up the names of kids I sold to, I got an extra month of restrictions.

The next night I found a playboy under my pillow with a post it note that said '200 is excessive, but so is 2 months restriction to your room. Here is 1. Hide it better and don't tell your mother.'

14. From chocolate_pancake:

When I was young, we had the typical parent dynamic of 1:1 strict/lenient ratio. Mom was laid-back and figured we were allowed to find our own fun while my dad was more critical. However, both agreed on the 'no underage drinking' policy.

So my brother, fresh out of Freshman year and with his typical 15 y.o. 'bro' egging him on, snuck tequila out of my parents' liquor cabinet and took about 5 shots each while my parents were sleeping upstairs.

Almost immediate regret.

Half an hour later, there's a cycle of being totally obliterated on the couch and worshiping the porcelain god. The whole while they're 'sneaking around' to not wake up my folks.

The next morning, my dad pulls my brother aside and asks what happened the night before. My brother tries to blow it off, but my dad just dead-eyes him and says 'That tequila made its way into the toilet somehow, I don't care if it was out one end or the other.'

Brother fesses up. My dad nods, slaps him on the arm, and says 'I think this is one lesson your mother doesn't need to hear about.'

15. From AizenShisuke:

For literally a year, my mom was under the impression that elementary classes ended at 5 instead of 3. Each day, my dad would pick me up from school at 3, which is at the water's edge, and take me two miles down to cross the river and play at a MASSIVE park for 2 hours. Then we'd go home and do normal family stuff like listen to mom and dad fight while I play some Spiderman 2 in the freedom of my room.

16. From RideAndShoot:

I tell my wife everything, we have no secrets. So when I tell my 3 kids to not tell mom something, she usually already knows or will shortly. I took the kids to the park one day and it was getting close to dinner. I bought them all ice cream anyway and told them they better eat all their dinner and not to tell mom we had ice cream so close to dinner. I told my wife when I got home in secret. She ask our middle daughter, 8 at the time, why it looks like she has coloring or ice cream around her mouth.

Without skipping a beat my daughter pipes up, 'Well I was riding my bike around the park, and someone stepped out in front of me, so I went around them, but I crashed and landed in the grass, but someone had spilled a slurpee there, and I landed in it, and it got on my face!' My wife had to stifle her laughs and feign concern over the nonexistent crash. My daughter said she was ok but her leg and hand hurt and she'd wash up before dinner.

My kids have my back. I'll occasionally let them have double dessert too when mom isn't looking, they always eat it quick and brush heir teeth and right to bed. Mom doesn't care, but likes that we have our 'own little thing'.

17. From Ghostronic:

This happened in my junior year of high school. I was sitting at lunch one day I saw my dad walking through the quad, and it was very dumbfounding for me. He told me there was a family emergency and that we needed to go, so I said goodbye to all my friends and trudged behind him, trying to figure out what was going on. He said he'd tell me when we got home.

We get home and he brings me over to the computer (which was alarming seeing as far as I knew he didn't know how to turn it on) and he asks, 'I need to print this page. How do you print?'

So I reached down and hit ctrl+P, clicked OK, and out spat some little news blurb that was from a while ago. Then like it was just an ordinary thing to do he said, 'Alright, back you go.'


I talked him out of letting me miss Algebra II class. He dropped me back off at school and I went into my last class of the day, which really confused my friends, as they all saw me walk off campus.

I totally used missing algebra class as leverage to not tell mom. She would have been very upset that he came and took me out of school for an hour-ish when I could have done it for him just a couple hours later. It did mean a lot to him to have the news article though and 13 years later he still has it on his nightstand.

edit: I forget the guy's name but it was his best friend from the military that died during battle. I'll try and ask him later to edit it back in.

edit 2: guys plz I am just waiting until I can take a few minutes to talk to my dad later!

edit 3: Larry Maxam, who my dad went to high school with. They named a park after him in their hometown, Burbank CA. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for something you would expect to see in a movie.

edit 4: I'll just put the story here since it actually isn't all too long:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a fire team leader with Company D. The Cam Lo District Headquarters came under extremely heavy rocket, artillery, mortar, and recoilless rifle fire from a numerically superior enemy force, destroying a portion of the defensive perimeter. Cpl. Maxam, observing the enemy massing for an assault into the compound across the remaining defensive wire, instructed his assistant fire team leader to take charge of the fire team, and unhesitatingly proceeded to the weakened section of the perimeter.

Completely exposed to the concentrated enemy fire, he sustained multiple fragmentation wounds from exploding grenades as he ran to an abandoned machine gun position.

Reaching the emplacement, he grasped the machine gun and commenced to deliver effective fire on the advancing enemy. As the enemy directed maximum firepower against the determined Marine, Cpl. Maxam's position received a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, knocking him backwards and inflicting severe fragmentation wounds to his face and right eye. Although momentarily stunned and in intense pain, Cpl. Maxam courageously resumed his firing position and subsequently was struck again by small-arms fire.

With resolute determination, he gallantly continued to deliver intense machine gun fire, causing the enemy to retreat through the defensive wire to positions of cover. In a desperate attempt to silence his weapon, the North Vietnamese threw hand grenades and directed recoilless rifle fire against him, inflicting two additional wounds. Too weak to reload his machinegun, Cpl. Maxam fell to a prone position and valiantly continued to deliver effective fire with his rifle.

After 1 & 1/2 hours, during which he was hit repeatedly by fragments from exploding grenades and concentrated small-arms fire, he succumbed to his wounds, having successfully defended nearly half of the perimeter single-handedly. Cpl. Maxam's aggressive fighting spirit, inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Signed, Richard M. Nixon

18. From Merax75:

So I'm working on an extension to our house, building in the garage. My wife has to pop out to the shops and leaves my youngest (at the time six) and her cousin (five) in my care. We're putting up plasterboard and the brick layers are working, but I still try and check on them regularly.

Suddenly I realize there is silence from upstairs where they were playing. Parents, you know the silence I'm talking about. The lack of sound that means your kids are doing something they shouldn't. I call out to them. No response. F*ck. Run upstairs and they're not in the room they were playing in. Call out again. There's a muffled response from our bedroom, as the door is closed.

I burst through that door like an NFL linebacker and there they are. Sitting in the middle of our bed, with my wife's makeup arrayed around them. They are covered in the stuff. Lipstick smeared all over their faces. There is foundation ground into our brilliant white duvet that my wife loves.

I grab a bag of wet wipes and get to work. Five minutes and I'm able to remove 99% of the crap off their faces. Then I banish them to the play room and take the duvet and all the sheets and put them in the wash. Toss in the bottom of the bin one of my wife's compacts that has had all the powder lost from it (she has others).

Once that is done I head to the playroom. They're looking at me, they know they're in trouble. I crouch down in front of them. 'Listen you want to do a sleepover tonight?' (sleepovers are their most favorite thing ever). 'YES!' they squeal. 'Ok...we can do that, but ONLY if you don't tell your mothers about playing with the makeup. If you do that, you'll get in trouble and you won't be allowed a sleepover.' They both agree solemnly and then go back to celebrating their unexpected bounty.

I go back downstairs and return to work. Wife arrives home about 10 mins later. Shortly thereafter she comes downstairs. 'Why did you put the duvet and sheets in the wash? I only changed them yesterday?' I look puzzled. 'Sorry, I thought they always got washed on Saturday, I was just trying to help you out. Oh, by the way I promised the girls they could have a sleepover here tonight, hope that is ok?' Wife thinks I am sweet for helping out with the laundry, sleepover is 100% ok.

They never told. There were no marks on the duvet. Wife thought she lost her compact somewhere.

19. From GreyhoundMummy:

Not a dad, I'm a mum, but in my experience telling my kids 'don't tell mum' is a lost cause.

A few years ago when my oldest two were around 3-4 their dad took them to the park. I told everyone dinner would be ready when they got back so no ice creams or sweeties this time please.

When I opened the door, both boys looked at me, looked at each other, and said in unison 'we didn't have an ice cream.' Husband stood behind them face palming.....

Edit: whooooaaah woke up to gold - thank you!

Your stories have really made me chuckle. And just to reassure everyone out there - the two boys concerned are now teens and have (mostly) refined Parental Deception Mode, so I absolutely do NOT know that they sometimes get off the school bus a stop early to buy sweets, or that they are secretly saving to buy their little brother a cool gift for Christmas ;-)

20. From notTHATwriter:

Happened just last week. We do 'dates' with our kids about once a month, just for one-on-one time with each of them. I told my wife my son (he's 6) and I were going out for dinner and ice cream...

We saw Dr. Strange instead. No regrets. The boy has maintained the secret.

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