November 8, 2023 | Molly Seif

People Share The Hardest Thing They've Ever Had To Tell Their Parents

We've all had some sort of personal news or secrets that we were afraid to reveal to our parents. Sometimes, we have the choice to keep the information to ourselves without hurting anyone, but in other cases, we don't have the luxury to choose. It's when we're faced with the latter that we really need to dig deep and find the courage to address our issues head-on. People from around the world took to the internet to share the hardest thing they've ever had to tell their parents. From life-changing diagnoses to heartbreaking family disasters, these stories are surely a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!

#1 Some Devastating News

I had to tell my parents that I had cancer. I live overseas and I know how much my parents miss me. I can only imagine how they felt while I was 10,000 miles away battling it. I tried to be super positive about it. My mom only wanted to hear as much as was necessary, and my dad kept on talking about all the ways things could go wrong (it was his way of working out a situation). I'm cancer-free for six months now though!

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#2 Explaining The Prognosis

I had to tell my mum that she wasn't well because she didn’t quite understand what the doctors were saying when they gave us the prognosis. Later on, having to tell my dad (her ex-husband) she had passed was almost as bad. It’s a horrible heartbreaking thing for any child to have to go through. It's a moment that has forever stayed with me and changed me.

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#3 For The Attention

That my sister was spreading lies about the family to her friends to get attention and pity. She told them things like: "My stepdad hits my mom and because he's a bigshot lawyer, they cover it up for him," or, "I'm actually a twin but my brother lost his life when we were both six weeks old." Some were so horrible—all about being abused and how my family was rich but she never got money, food, or adequate shelter because we hate her so much. I watched their faces go from confused, to angry, to sad. It broke my heart.

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#4 Romance Con

I told my widowed mom that if she didn’t start using the internet safely (she fell victim to romance con twice) and stop sending money she doesn’t have to strangers online (she’s definitely on a fixed income), I’d get power of attorney over her and her finances. It really sucks having to parent your own parent. I feel for her, but I need to do the right thing.


#5 Facebook Strangers

My mom was accepting friend requests on Facebook from these people that she didn’t know. She fell for it twice. The first person (claiming to be male, but who really knows) claimed to be in the army and over in Syria. They emailed for two years. She never heard this person’s voice. I did my homework and even when confronted with the fact that no one with his name is in the US Army or in Syria, it took her another six to eight months to finally see through their lies and be done.


#6 Giving Up

Our parents gave up on being grandparents but then announced my wife was pregnant. The next day, she had a miscarriage. We eventually were able to have a child and he is doing great, but my wife really took everything hard. She was not to keep her job and has been in and out of treatment for severe depression and anxiety. While I love being a dad, it can be difficult as I am essentially taking care of my son and my wife. Plus, the medical bills keep coming. She cannot drive and has therapy sessions a week, so she depends on people taking her to them.


#7 At Least I Tried

Telling my parents I flunked out of college was the hardest thing for me. I was terrified for weeks. Actually, I failed out of the four-year school about two years ago. I had no real direction when I went to school, but I was told my entire life that I HAD to get a college degree to be successful, so I went right after high school. I attended for three years, during which time I'd been on academic probation. I was finally suspended after that. I panicked so much about telling my parents why I wasn’t going back. I actually applied to a different school to make them think I wanted to transfer, despite knowing there was no hope of that happening.


#8 You Just Got Bamboozled

When I was in high school, I worked at a fast-food place. I would offer a senior discount despite it not being asked for by the customer. I would then proceed to charge them the full rate of the order and pocket the discount. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I had enough money to purchase a new Sony PSP. I would do this on weekends for party money and gas money because I thought I could get away with it.

One day, I came into work as normal. I was there for maybe an hour and then was pulled into the office. My manager sent her husband through the drive-thru to see if I would offer the discount unprovoked. I did. I was fired on the spot and. He told me the authorities would meet me at my house and that I should probably let my parents know before they get there.

I proceeded to freak out and was inconsolable. It took me forever to get home even though I lived five minutes away. I told my parents and was nervously waiting for the authorities to show up. No authorities ever came. My parents grounded me for the whole summer. I am so grateful I was caught. I know it was something I would have continued to do if I wouldn't have been caught.


#9 The Secret's Been Out

That I had known for ten years about the half-sibling I wasn’t supposed to know about. I was pretty broken up about it way back when my sister I grew up with spilled the beans. It took me so long to bring it up because, at the time, she asked me not to tell our mother that she told me, and I didn’t want to betray her. I never made contact. I thought about it a lot, but I’ve battled some serious depression in my life and if it went bad it might be bad for my mental health. So I let it be.

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#10 The Wedding's Off

My ex and I of 10 years amicably split up three months before our wedding date. When we told my parents together, I'm 100% positive they were expecting us to tell them she was pregnant. It was a total shock from them. Her parents knew we were having problems, they weren't surprised. Mine, however, were blindsided.


#11 Painful Diagnoses

I had to call for a ride to the hospital because I was too upset to drive. Then, the next day, I had to tell my parents that the doctors thought she had cancer and would not make it. She did make it in the end, but she was very sick for a long time with permanent side effects. There were a lot of terrible parts, but I remember one doctor came to check on us, then briefly addressed my parents' questions and left. My dad stepped out with him. He came back to us calmer. Later, I learned he had to ask if I had cancer. He had to ask if his baby was dying too. Ugh.


#12 Letting Go

"Mom, we're moving you out of your house and into a home." I felt guilty, but a good nursing home and assisted living facility can actually be good for the elderly. There are activities to occupy them and folks to socialize with. My Abuela was put into a home when my aunt could no longer care for her, and she's actually doing a bit better with all the stimuli.

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#13 It Was All Worth It

That I had met someone in a different state and was going to fly there to meet him after only a month of talking, texting, and video chatting. I lived in Oregon and he lived about 760 miles away in California. We met through eHarmony. My dad was convinced that the day I left for the airport was going to be the last day he saw his daughter alive. I gave my parents all my flight info, the make of his vehicle, his cellphone number, a picture of him, and the license plate of his car. I was trying to be smart with a potentially unsmart decision.

About eight months after that, I had to tell my parents that I was moving to California to live with him. It was perfect timing in my life and I felt like it was something I just had to do. My parents helped move me down to California and finally got to meet him. They did not agree with my decision but were still supportive. We got married in October and are expecting our first child in a few weeks. He also has a really good relationship with my parents. He is always asking my dad for advice and my dad finally has the son that he has always wanted.


#14 Just Keep Trying

My wife and I were pursuing adoption. It would have been my parents' first grandchild. Unfortunately, the adoption failed. We’ve since successfully adopted a child. My parents have both children’s photos on their mantle.


#15 Tracing The Lineage

I haven’t done it yet, but I found out through AncestryDNA that my father was adopted by my grandparents. Except that they are actually HIS grandparents. Turns out his “sister” was actually his mother. After getting in touch with some relatives I never even knew about, but who knew my dad when they were kids, they all confirmed this to be the case. It was a family secret that my father was not supposed to know about. Everything I thought I knew about my father’s side of the family is now upended.

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#16 That Mother-Daughter Bond

I’ve never been close with my mom as she was really abusive growing up, but I’m very, very close to my grandmother. Telling her I was moving across the country was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I know it broke her heart. But she understood why I had to go and, to this day, she says it was the best decision I ever made. Now I’m waiting for biopsy results to find out if I have uterine cancer. Fortunately, the chances are VERY low (about 4%), but if I do, I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to her.


#17 Becoming A Male Hairdresser

I had to tell my parents that I was leaving high school to become a hairdresser and that I was also not gay. My dad, being super conservative, really glossed over the whole leaving school and hairdressing thing and just fixated on my sexuality... Not that he would have used a word like sexuality... but yeah, he was fairly convinced that I’d caught homosexuality or “The Gay” as he put it.


#18 The Worst Birthday Gift

My younger sister's husband called me to tell me the baby that my sister, his wife, was carrying had passed in utero. He asked me in between sobs to call my parents because my sister wanted everyone to come to the hospital before she was put into induced labor to give birth to her stillborn daughter. So I called my parents, who were in a cafe.

The first thing my mom said, naturally (considering what day it was), was 'Happy Birthday, Janie!' There was no way to break the news nicely, so I just told her that sister and sister's husband's baby had been stillborn and we were all to meet them at the hospital. I'll never forget the sounds of my mom wailing with heartbreak in our local cafe.


#19 Second Story Horror

I had to tell my mom that her two-year-old son had fallen out a window. It was on the second story and was over the driveway. I was around 10 years old. I still get nauseous remembering that moment when I ran to her room.


#20 Coming Out

Definitely, it was coming out to them. That was a painful experience. They didn’t react in a blatantly negative manner, they instead went with the always-so-healthy route of denial. To be honest, I think that hurt more. I'd rather them be upset than not take me seriously. "You are confused! You just really like her as a friend!"

Two girls looking at yellow wallRogério Martins, Pexels

#21 Don't Mess With My Kids

As a parent, nothing can make my opinion turn on a dime faster than finding out that someone has hurt one of my children, even in a mild way. My teenage son's best friend throughout middle school was a great kid (I thought), super friendly, I absolutely loved this kid. Until my son told me that the kid had broken off their friendship and started spreading nasty stories about my son around their friend group. (Luckily most of the rest of his friends stuck with my son.)

My son told me that he was worried that I would feel really bad because I seemed to like this other kid so much and I was like, "Yeah, I DID until I found out he was a jerk to you. You're my son, I have your back." If I found out someone was actually beating one of my kids, Jim Cantore would have to show up to report on Hurricane Mom. It would not be pretty.

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#22 A Tricky Situation

My parents don't know my ex was abusive and I don't think I plan on telling them. I'm not sure how my younger sister doesn't know because she was living with me for a while when my ex was around. Or maybe she does know and just never said anything. She never did anything to stop him. And I never expected her to, let's get that clear.


#23 A Difference In Faith

My girlfriend broke up with me because I told her I was an atheist. I called my mother for support. When she asked me why we broke up, I had to tell her. I'd never told anyone before that day. My mom was supportive and understanding. We don't really talk about it anymore, though. My mother and I still have a great relationship.


#24 A Super Close Call

I've got 10 half-siblings and I'm not even allowed to know that they exist. I've met eight of them, one of which I almost slept with prior to finding out she was my half-sister. Lik,e half a year later, when I was contacted by her brother about us being related was when we found out. The only reason we never began an incestuous relationship was that I was too dumb to bring protection. Twice.


#25 More Bad News

Not my parents, but my grandmother. I refused to do this over the phone, and the rest of my family was incredibly angry with me for that. My mom had cancer and had to have surgery to have it removed. They kept pestering me the second the surgery was over to just call my grandma and tell her it’s fine. But I had to tell them it wasn’t fine. I had to tell her that the surgery went well, but they found more and it was terminal. Not only was it incredibly hard to tell my grandma her daughter was dying, but I was barely handling it myself and everyone seemed to be angry and took it out on me. I no longer speak to any of them.


#26 You Really Never Know

An officer showed up to my house when I was 14 and the rest of my family was out of province for a sibling's national event. "Your father has passed and you are the next of kin available. Please inform your family so that arrangments can be made." I had to call my mother who was 18 hours away and inform her that my dad had passed. I told her not to tell my brother because I knew a full-ride scholarship was on the line and to only come home when it would not impact his future.


#27 Crushed Dreams

Having to tell my mom that the stroke she had suffered was bad enough to leave a significant portion of her brain permanently damaged and that it was unlikely she would gain full use of her left arm again. She’s only recently finished her university degree and had been a relief teacher for about two years. Her career was picking up speed when she’d suffered a stroke. I held her while she cried because everything she’d worked so hard for was gone in minutes.


#28 "It's Me, Dad, Your Son"

"It's me, dad, your son." Having a parent who suffers from Alzheimer's is heartbreaking. Take care of your dad as much as you can and cherish this time you have left. I wish I had been with my dad more when he still knew who I was.


#29 No Compassion

Talking about my sexuality and my depression. It did not go well. My mother is still in denial over the sexuality part and will get angry at me if I so much as mention it. Concerning the depression part, she blew up on me. She called me ungrateful, selfish and stupid. It hurts when you tell your own mother you feel so terrible that you wish you didn't exist. We don't talk much anymore, just small talk. But I think I shouldn't have expected anything else.


#30 Sorry, Mom

When I said, "I'm sorry for doing this, but its what's best for you right now. I love you, mommy." I  then kissed her forehead and signed the comfort care papers. I watched as the nurse started shutting off the machines that were keeping my mother alive.


#31 First And Last Walk

I had to ring up my mom and tell her that my daughter had passed. I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time and my mom was getting my younger brothers off to school at the time I told her. She rushed to be by my side during everything that came next—the induction, the birth, etc. She bathed my daughter's body and dressed her for me while I had surgery. She walked through the hospital grounds with me and my daughter in a pram for the only walk I got to take her on. She mourned with me and still does seven years later.


#32 No Trust

That I don't trust either of them to babysit my children. My mom is manic and there's no warning for a depressive episode. She has done some scary things while in that state. My dad is a narcissist and would absolutely use my kids for his own gain like he did with me. Telling them "I love you, but I don't feel you would be safe people to leave my children with" freaking SUCKED.


#33 Making Mom Mad

We were never engaged, but when we broke up, I told my mom. I didn't want to, but I had to eventually. She flipped out on me and we haven't spoken since. She blamed me when it wasn't anyone's fault and she was very hateful. I hadn't been expecting anything less honestly. So in the space of a couple of months, I lost my entire family, including my dog who passed from cancer. It sucked and it still does. I wish my girl hadn't passed. I miss her the most.


#34 The Five Year Lie

I had to tell them I've dropped out of university after more than five years without having a degree. They were paying for all expenses and I told them everything was going fine whenever they asked. But it was not going well and I reached a point where I just could not bear lying to them anymore.

Student Asleep In ClassNestor Rizhniak, Shutterstock

#35 Never On My Side

That I blame my mother for most of the trauma in my life. Within the first decade of my life, she'd married, then divorced my dad, remarried to the man that hurt me. She left me homeless when my manipulative ex got me fired and kept me from getting my license reinstated or getting a job. She allowed my ex to continue living there. We have a somewhat better relationship now, but I'm still extremely bitter about her obsession with what made her happy. You give that up once you have kids, or at least you should.


#36 A Dangerous Cycle

Telling them that I'd lost my job because I had shown up to work on more than one occasion smelling like I had been drinking. There had been many, many other times when I had gone to work still under the influence, but just didn't smell like it. Having to tell them that for the second time was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to say. The shame, guilt, worry that I was feeling, and knowing of course that I was making them feel the same was heartbreaking. I felt slightly better when I then went home and got hammered though...


#37 A Lost Faith

At 16, I told my parents that I don't believe in God and never did and refused to attend church services any longer. Growing up, I went to church every Sunday without complaining because I knew I'd get in trouble if I acted up. My dad wasn't religious, but he'd promised that my mom would get to raise me and my sister as Catholic.

It just got harder to keep up the facade as I got older, and at some point, I just snapped. Getting my Sunday mornings back and having to pretend to be someone I'm not made me feel a lot happier in myself, even if my mom didn't believe me at first. I haven't been to Mass in 15 years now, barring weddings and funerals.


#38 Forever Uncomfortable

When I had to tell them I got diagnosed with MS. It’s weird trying to make everything seem like it’s not as bad as it sounds, even when you know it is, and it’s happening to you. I don’t think talking about it will ever stop being awkward and uncomfortable.

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#39 Broken Ties

I had to appear in court with my boyfriend’s family to tell the judge I wanted his mother and step-father to have lawful guardianship of me rather than my own parents. They had to be present at the hearing. My father tried to argue, but he was the one who had primary physical custody, and he was abusive. My mother let me go without a fight. I don’t know if that was worse, or not. It was over 15 years ago, and a blur of emotion and upheaval.


#40 Conflicting Views

My mother is a Jehovah's Witness. When I was dating, my mom tried to convince me to come with her to a meeting, maybe I would meet a nice girl. I replied: "I'm not sure we would have much in common" she kept pressing, so I said, "I feel we would have conflicting world views." She still kept pressing, so I had to tell my mom that I was an atheist. It went better than I expected.


#41 Arsonist's Guilt

That some friends and I did accidentally burn down a roof. I’ll never forget the banging on the door and screams as I was showering already stressed out about it. The moment I heard that first knock, I knew they knew.

Group of young multi-ethnic friends with pizza and bottles of drinkNejron Photo, Shutterstock

#42 I'm Pregnant

That I was pregnant at 15 years old. I’m the youngest of four kids, and we had lost my dad to cancer less than a year before. My mother was just coasting since we could all manage ourselves. Then I went and did that.


#43 Better Off

Telling my mom that when my mentally ill sister lost her life in her sleep, everyone was better off. She didn't have to suffer anymore, and the rest of the family didn't have to suffer her anger and hatred that her illness caused her to feel towards all of us. Yes, we are still sad that she's not here anymore, but honestly, we are all living better lives now that she is gone.


#44 A Troubling Reality

That their seemingly normal infant grandson had a terminal disorder and had maybe four years to live. It's probably the toughest thing I've ever had to face in my life. They had no clue and were absolutely heartbroken when I told them.


#45 A New Connection

My dad was married to another woman before my mom and he had a daughter with her. My mom does not want me to know about her but I just recently found out about her existence. She and I are going to hang out soon.



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