They may not know it but kids can have an incredible influence on their parents. From something small like a silly question to a crazy observation, the people in these stories share the times the seemingly small thing they dad had an outsized affect on their parents; good and bad.
"When I was in the primary school in Croatia, there was this optional flat fee you could pay and the kids would be served lunch (not like shop style lunch in US). Obviously, if you were not happy with the food they provided or for whatever other reason you could choose to not pay it and give your kids sandwiches or whatever. But nearly everyone paid it and so did my parents.
One month, in the third year I had forgotten to tell my parents when the payment is due. I told them something like three days before it was due because of a terrible financial condition we were in my dad forgot to account for the lunch fee. Times were difficult after the Yugoslav Wars and my parents were struggling but they always took great care for me not to feel any of it. But this time, my dad couldn't find money from anywhere. He even asked to borrow money. Keep in mind that this was a relatively low fee, something like $15 but he had no luck. I simply went back to the teacher and told her that I was not gonna go to lunch this month. No big deal, I get 10 more minutes to play soccer or whatever. Didn't bother me.
But it affected my dad immensely. This was the first time that he had to concede that he couldn't provide food for his children. First time when he needed to pay to feed his child and he simply couldn't. Same day he started researching his options. He got a second job, spent days on the computer and phone, every minute of free time he had. About three months later he and my mum called me and my brothers in for a family meeting and asked about how we would feel if we were to move to Australia or Canada. I didn't really care, seemed cool at the time. We said yes. So they initiated the immigration process, pulled some strings and within a year we were packing our whole life into five suitcases and moving to Australia. We didn't have any family in Australia, knew about three people. It was a completely fresh start.
Years later, my father admitted that the inability to pay my lunch fee was the straw that broke the camels back and whenever they ask him why he moved to Australia he says that he 'couldn't feed his children in Croatia' even though I never really went hungry. Who knew that missing a little lunch would change our lives for the better"
"I didn't have a happy childhood until I met my 'father.' When I was very young, my mother introduced men into my life all the time and would say 'This is your dad. Be nice so that he'll stay.'
Whenever one man left (which was usually after a month or two) another would come into the picture. She would instantly tell me, 'I was wrong. He wasn't your real dad, but this one is.'
This happened a handful of times, and each time I was heartbroken. I didn't know why because I wasn't even 6-years-old at the time when this was going on in our lives; I just felt like every single person who was my 'dad' kept leaving me. When I was about 8-years-old, my mother had me dress up in my best clothes and we had a serious talk in an elevator.
She told me that the man we were seeing was definitely my birth father, so when I see him, I had to run up to him, hug him, and say, 'Dad!' She told me that if I did this, she would be very proud of me for being a good girl. Being young and frightened of my mother, I spent a good portion of time trying to please her. So, when we walked into the office, I saw this man standing there, looking fairly upset and angry. He frightened me, but I was more frightened of making my mother upset. I ran up to him, hugged him, and said, 'Dad!' I don't remember much. He sat me in front of his computer, asked me if I've ever played a computer game, and he set up pong for me to play when I said I didn't. I remember them arguing, but he was so nice to me.
He eventually ended up marrying my mother. Thing is she was never a nice person and was very abusive. I remember one bad fight in particular. She was about to hit me and cut my hair because I fell asleep with gum in my hair. He stepped in front of her and took the hit and got cut in the process. Eventually, she stopped noticing me and he took all the physical abuse. Whenever he threatened to leave, my mother told me to beg him to stay. I did as she asked because I selfishly wanted him to stay. I didn't want to be left alone with her. And, in the short time he was in my life, I needed him. So, he stayed.
On my 16th birthday, he told me he wasn't my birth father. I always knew that he wasn't my biological father, but I also wanted to believe that he was. It hurt very much when he told me. The illusion of having him as my birth father just shattered, and it hurt because I wanted a good parent. It hurt even more when he told me about my real birth father, who apparently is also not a nice man (serving time for killing a pregnant woman for a parking spot...and had to be put in jail very quickly because of political ties -- corrupt foreign country politics). At that moment, I felt like I was the devil spawn, and I started living in fear that genetics would take hold of my senses and I'd end up just like my mother. I cried. He cried. He told me that blood meant nothing, and I was still his daughter.
A few months later, I told him to leave my mother. I told him I would be okay, but that he had to leave. He had been speaking to a woman online for over a year and fell in love with her. We even met her (under the guise of visiting college campuses), and I liked her. So, I told him to leave. I always felt guilty for asking him to stay, even if I was just a kid who didn't know better. He left with my blessing, just about four months after I turned 16. The last thing I remember was him hugging me and telling me that 'good-bye really meant 'I'll see you later.' All I could do was cry like a baby.
That was the last time I saw him in person.
I lived my messy teenage years, and I left my abusive home life to build my future. I followed all the advice my dad gave me through the years he was in my life. 'It's okay to see people before getting married.' 'Use college to find yourself.' 'It's okay to try new things, but be careful and don't let yourself get addicted.' 'Don't be afraid to question authority.'
I made it on my own, all the while thinking about his life and hoping that he was happy. I spent all my years after he left trying to be the daughter he could be proud of. All that time, I lived my life in a way to thank him for all that he had tried to do for me. To this day, I owe my strength to this man.
About six years ago, I found him online. I sent him a few emails, and he never emailed me back. I had gotten engaged, and I was very sad because I didn't have my dad walking me down the aisle. My family had vilified him for abandoning us (and to be fair, he did leave without a single word to my mother). I guess that's why I really tried to find him at that point in my life.
It took about a year before he finally sent me a response. He was afraid that I hated him, and he was riddled with guilt for leaving. So, he didn't want to contact me. But his wife. the woman for whom he left my family for, told him to talk to me, so he found the courage to. We chit-chatted for a while, laughed over silly happy memories, and avoided the proverbial elephant in the room. Eventually, I thanked him for my life and he just... he just kind of laughed at me.
He told me that I was actually the person who saved him. He was a miserable person before he met me. His life, while fairly glamorous, was empty. He never wanted kids until he met me. The moment I wrapped my arms around him and called him dad he loved me. He loved that I listened, that I cared, that I wanted to learn. He felt like he finally had a legacy, and he learned what he had missed all those years. He hated that we had to suffer together, but he would have made that choice again and again because he felt like it was his purpose. He told me that I was the reason he stayed, and I never had to ask/beg him to stay. For the longest time, I thought I was the worst burden in his life. All I did was need him, and for him, that was all he wanted."
"This tore me up when I found out about it.
I was 8-years-old and my sister was 16 at the time. She and my dad did not get along at all. They would fight a lot and my sister would spend a lot of her time alone in her room. One night my sister and my father got into it pretty bad. After all the yelling stopped, I was sitting with my dad and I asked him something along the lines of, 'Are you going to stop loving me too when I become a teenager?'
Apparently this deeply moved my dad and he was determined to repair his relationship with his daughter. He went into her room that night to talk to her and began spending more time with her. They're still close to this day.
Here's the real kicker: I was talking to my sister about her relationship with our dad and she said that she was severely depressed when she was a teenager. Apparently she was planning on killing herself but in the course of the conversations she had with my dad, she revealed this to him. He got her into treatment. According to her, my dad saved her life.
Even to this day I wonder if my innocent comment to my dad saved me from having to bury my sister."
"I don't know how else to put it but my laziness saved my mom's life.
I really didn't like high school very much, so I stayed home a lot. One day I begged to stay home. My mom and I had fought for over an hour over it but she eventually let up. I felt horrible and wanted to be close to her, so I decided to sleep in her bedroom. As fate would have it this was actually a blessing in disguise. My sister said goodbye and left for work that morning while my mom worked in the garage on a woodcarving project.
Since my mother specializes in wood carving she uses a number of different sprays and chemicals to finish the wood and add extra shine. Unfortunately these chemicals have highly toxic fumes if contained in a room. I was asleep in her room close by when I suddenly heard violent choking from the garage. I sprung to my feet and ran to discover my mother on the floor passed out and gasping. I scrambled for the phone and called 911. Fortunately paramedics were able to save her. It's honestly scary to think about if I hadn't begged my mom to stay home she wouldn't be to this day. She would've died alone in that garage choking on those fumes. I think that will be the one and only day that my childhood laziness actually saved a life."
"When my sister and I were little kids (ages 3-10) my grandmother regularly took care of us during the summertime. Every week, she'd drive 2 1/2 hours from San Diego to Los Angeles to watch us for about three to four days.
She'd take us to Malibu to go to the beach and go shopping... I know that sounds incredibly pretentious, but she spoiled us rotten and I MEAN ROTTEN. She eventually moved in with my mother and did most of the cleaning, cooking, and babysitting.
She spent most of her retirement buying us gifts and expensive outings. One day...she made some playful comment along the lines of 'I'm not your servant!' I said 'Yes you are!' because I was so accustomed to her waiting on me hand and foot. She looked completely heartbroken and, a few days later, decided to move out.
My younger sister (being about 6-years-old) felt completely betrayed that her grandmother had abandoned her. Later in the year, my grandmother came for a surprise visit when I wasn't home. My sister greeted her with some insanely snarky comment like: 'WELL WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?' and then gave her the cold shoulder for the rest of the day.
None of my family members have seen or heard from my grandmother since this event. This was 2005. My mother hired a private investigator to search for her, but they've largely been unsuccessful. I later learned that she suffers from an extreme anxiety disorder."
"I don't remember doing this, but around the 5th or 6th grade I put a note in my mom's stocking on Christmas. I must have gotten up in the middle of the night and slipped the note in.
It was written as a note from Santa (who I knew didn't exist) asking my mother to please stop smoking that he didn't want her to die.
For years I had been flushing her smokes and generally being a pest about it. Years later she told me about it and that morning she left the room to go cry and made it her New Year's resolution. We then did nice things for her at each milestone. After one week flowers, two weeks new lipstick, and so on down the line.
A couple of Christmas's ago she told the story which I had all but forgotten and then went to her room and got out the framed note she keeps in her night stand. I couldn't stop the tears. I was so proud of her."
"Growing up, my mother was a stay at home mom who mostly sold Avon products. My dad worked long shifts at the steel mill and he was literally never home between work and drinking heavily at the bar. Anyway, she divorced him when I was a toddler and they had joint custody. Since I never really knew who he was I just knew the violent inebriated side of him when he actually was home, I was terrified of my father. He kicked us out of his house and we were homeless for a time, and then we lived with my grandmother.
After a year of halfhearted visitations on my father's part, 5-year-old me had had enough. At the end of one visit I shouted 'No! I wanna go home! You're not my MAMA!' at my father and started crying. He turned around, left me at home with my mom and never came back for another visitation. Never called me, never sent a birthday card, nothing. Apparently, he had told my mother that I was a brat and couldn't deal with me. He didn't want a kid so I was her problem now. I also didn't get to see my half-brother after that.
And that's how you get rid of a father. If you yell loud enough then just maybe you'll be able to make your abusive father go away."
"When I was 12, my grandfather murdered my grandmother by pushing her down the basement stairs and bludgeoning her to death with a claw hammer. The day after, our pastor came to my parents' house to pray and console us. It was my mother's mother who was murdered so out of grief she asked our pastor, 'Why would God allow this to happen? What did we do to deserve this?'
My mother cried harder than I've ever seen in my life.
I then watched in disbelief as our pastor, our person of hope and wisdom in this time of need, just sat there in dead silence with his head down. I couldn't believe what was happening.
He didn't offer one single word of comfort. Meanwhile, I am sitting at the table, watching my mother cry her eyes out and nearly die from grief. This man just sat there like an idiot. A rage bubbled up within me. I was so angry with him that he wasn't saying anything that I stood up and said, 'You're supposed to be saying something to comfort us! Isn't that your job? You're not doing anything but letting my mother cry! What the heck is wrong with you?'
It was the first time I had ever cursed in front of my parents, and in front of a pastor nonetheless, but it certainly felt like the right time to get my point across. We never saw that pastor inside of a church ever again.
I didn't learn until many years later that my comments stopped us from going to church ever again because I called out our pastor on his pointless silence. This man was supposedly a vessel for God's word and in our darkest hour, in our greatest time of need, God said nothing."
"My mom cheated on my father when I was a little kid. I don't know why, but she took me over to his house one night when she stayed over with her new boyfriend. I played with his kid that was my age and watched Free Willy (don't know why I remember that). A few weeks later my dad sat me on our kitchen counter and plainly asked if 'mommy had another boyfriend besides daddy.' I told him yes, and even proudly admitted that I knew where he lived because it was right by Grandma's house.
We drove out there during the day while my mom was at work. When we pulled up to the driveway, my mom's car was still there. She had been skipping out on her job to cheat on my dad. My dad told us to get out of the car, honked the car horn, and drove off. My sisters and I jumped out, my mom saw us and realized what deep trouble she was in. When we got back to our house, it was surrounded by cops - my dad was trying to kill himself. The cops talked him out of it, but the next week was a downward spiral and the beginnings of my parents separation.
I didn't realize until I was older that the information I told my dad began the end of my parents marriage. I know they would have separated either way because my mom was being unfaithful, but I think that it was a lot rougher than it needed to be because of what I said..."
"My father never wore a seat belt, ever. When he was young and when he was getting his license people didn't wear them, and even though it was 1999 in this story he still wasn't wearing one, and this terrified 4 year old me. I thought every time he drove he was for sure going to die. So every day when he'd get in the car with me to drive me to preschool I'd say 'Buckle your seat belt Daddy!' repeatedly until he became so annoyed by my nagging that he did it. This went on every morning for months.
My father normally came home from work at 9 p.m. every night, 9:30 if he was really late. Until January 11, 2000. It was 11:45 and my dad still wasn't home yet. An officer came to the door and said there had been an accident and my mother needed to go with him to the hospital. My dad had been in a 50 mile per hour head-on collision, but he was alive. He sustained back and neck injuries, but he'll come home soon and make a full recovery. And you know why? Because he didn't sail through the windshield upon impact. He wore is seat belt, without me even having to tell him to, but he thinks I did. He told me years later that when he got in is car to come home that night, he was about to leave and he swears he heard my voice say 'Buckle your seat belt Daddy!' That's why he chose to wear it, and that's why he's still here with my family being the best dad a girl could ever hope for."
"When I was 10-years-old, my father was transitioning from working as an employee to starting his own business, putting our house at the time up as collateral to cover a loan to start his business. Just as a side-note my father is very much a nuclear family kind of dad right out of the 1920s. My father believed he was the only one that could provide for the family. Always very stern and strict but I always looked up to him because nothing could touch him. The first year of my fathers business was very rocky and my family was pretty much living like poor college kids during this time. My father really began to get depressed at this time. At night, I could hear him talking to my mom about what he was going to do and from time to time I would catch him in the guest room crying. This went on for a few weeks my father just wasn't himself. Well one day I was at school and one of my assignments that day was a worksheet that just said 'If you believe in yourself you can move mountains' as a kid I just thought it was just some awesome superpower so I had to tell my parents all about it, so I hid the worksheet in my folder. I ended up telling my dad about the assignment when I got home and showed him the worksheet I had kept from class. I can still remember the look on his face something just light back up in him and he smiled for the first time in weeks.
My dad still tells his friends this story 12 years later to friends and family. I still don't have the heart to tell him that I just wanted to learn how to move mountains with my mind."
"This is kind of stupid, but it makes me smile when I think of it: When I was little, sometime before I started school, so around 3 or 4-years-old I believe, my dad had this very nice black Italian leather coat. It had a funny story about it. Something about a buddy of his who imported all of these expensive leather goods, but the guy gave my dad the coat as a gift and my dad really liked it. Apparently, in my mind, the black leather jacket made him evil like some kind of bad guy. This was because I was just a kid who watched cartoons and the bad guys always wore long leather trench coats. I tell my dad this wisdom and he instantly gets rid of the jacket.
Years later, my dad tells me this story and I instantly feel bad: he got rid of an expensive gift because of a passing comment by his barely-old-enough-to-have-a-conversation daughter. So my mom and I decide that for Christmas we will get him a new leather jacket. We get him a (as nice as we could afford) black leather jacket from a department store. When he opened the present there was this moment of hesitation, barely noticeable, before he starts on about how nice the present is.
Two days later he takes the coat back to the store and exchanges it for the brown version.
Because black would make him look evil."