Children have a huge impact on the lives of their parents. But when we’re young, it’s impossible to fathom just how large of an impact it can really be.
Here, people share things that they did as children that had a massive impact on their parents.
1/26. My mom used to travel a lot for her job when I was a little kid, so much so that when I once drew a family picture, she wasn’t in it. She stopped traveling as much, even though it paid her more, and got a job that was paid less but kept her at home most of the time.
I only found out about this a couple months ago. It made me feel awful.
2/26. When I was about 4 or 5, my father would be working in Washington D.C from Monday to Thursday, while we lived in New York. One day I told my mother that it was like I only had a dad on he weekends. This shook him so much that he changed jobs within two weeks of him hearing this, and now he is home around 8:00 pm every day.
3/26. Mine isn’t really moving or inspirational or anything but when I was younger, my parents asked me if I wanted to have a sibling and I told them “no” because I was just thinking in terms of being a spoiled only-child since I was young.
I later realized that my mom had extreme difficulty getting pregnant with me in the first place and had always felt pressured to the point of depression to have another child because she thought that I would grow up being lonely without a sibling (she’s a twin who has always been best friends with her sister). By me saying that I didn’t want to have a sibling, it lifted a huge weight off her shoulders and she came out of depression eventually.
4/26. I broke my arm very badly when I was six. It was so messed up that they almost amputated. We had just moved from CA to WA and didn’t have health insurance, my grandfather put up his home as collateral for me to have the (at the time) very innovative reconstructive surgery. I now have a plastic joint, pins, and donor tissue. It’s a small miracle that my arm works at all.
Here’s what I didn’t know/remember. Only mom and I had moved. I remember dad had to stay behind for work (at the time he was a pretty popular recording artist), but that’s just what they had told me. They were actually separated. Dad didn’t want to quit music/drugs, mom wanted a cleaner, simpler life. When he got word that I had surgery he drove straight through to get to WA. While here, he decided to stay and get a ‘real’ job with health insurance.
5/26. When I was a kid, I was hugely impacted by those drinking and driving PSA’s on T.V. It scared me so much that someone could have just a little bit of alcohol, get in a car, lose control, and end someone else’s life. This affected me so much so that I would not let my parents drink even the TINIEST amount of alcohol before we drove anywhere. It would send me into sobbing and screaming fits if they tried to order anything alcoholic at all while out at a restaurant.
I didn’t realize the impact it had on my dad until much later. Turns out he was actually struggling with alcohol addiction and my complete intolerance to drinking and driving forced him to get clean.
Continue onto the next page for more!
6/26. I had the worst fear of the cooties. So much so that I began telling my parents that I would much rather marry another guy. Thing is I’m straight, but I paraded around the house proclaiming my “homosexuality”. Little did I know, my parents were majorly conservative and fundamentalist Christians, and once they experienced love for a “gay” child, they did a 180 and became major supporters of gay rights.
7/26. 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 3 days before it was due and due to 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 dollars). 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 hit him 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 3 months later (I had restarted getting the lunch following month) 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 5 suitcases and moving to Australia where we knew about 3 people and had no family and knew nobody and nothing.
Years later, my father admitted that the inability to pay my lunch fee was the straw threat 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).
8/26. When I lost my virginity, my girlfriend bled a lot, and took the blanket we were on (from a couch, not my bed) and tried to wash it before anyone found it.
My Dad found it and asked me about it. Of course I denied any knowledge of the blood/sex sweat stained blanket…
Flash forward a few years and my parents are divorced. Flash forward a few more years and my dad finally tells me the catalyst to their divorce… He found a blanket that someone had sex on and since it wasn’t mine or his, it had to be hers.
Still haven’t told anyone…
I caused my parents divorce. For real.
9/26. Not me, but my grandpa was reading the letters his parents sent to each other while his father (my great-grandfather) was away in the navy in WWII. He found a letter from his mother that said, “Was going to ask you to come home on hardship leave” (they owned an important store in town and it would have been a legit request) “but our son (my grandpa) was bragging to his friends today about how his Daddy would never chicken out and use hardship leave, and I just couldn’t do it.”
He broke down and cried. My grandpa was only 5 years old at the time, and didn’t really know what he was saying. My great-grandpa lived, luckily, but that was years of war he might not have gone through.
10/26. My parents divorced when I was around 10 (?), and my dad moved away from home. My sister, mom, and I stayed in MA, USA while my dad went to Ohio.
My mom had always framed the picture as this; mom was good and worked hard for us, dad screwed us over. This is was I was brought up thinking, and my sister. mostly my sister. She hated my father because of this, so he had little to no contact with her even though he called every single night, no exceptions.
He called me too, and I would answer and talk with him, because, thankfully, I was too young to really understand my mom’s subtle but influential remarks about him that made my sister see him in a bad light. So I just thought of him as the guy I love.
So fast forward a couple years, my dad went from working as a bio technician in a house with a wife in kids to working in a pizza place in a crappy apartment alone. Obviously he had a horrible relationship with my mom and my sister refused to have one with him; needless to say depression came up to him fast.
This was about the time I discovered the wonders of the internet, specifically yahoo chat and the games you could play. For those who don’t know, you could get into a chat with someone and invite them to flash games to play. I discovered Yahoo’s pool simulator, the greatest multiplayer chat thing ever.
I always invited my dad to play pool with me because, who do I know that would play this with me? He would accept every time. I spent hours with him on it.
So we forward it to about a year ago and we start recalling playing yahoo pool together (story continued on the next page…).
Continue onto the next page for more!
He told me that my contact with him and my treating him as someone who was desirable to be with lifted him up out of his depression greatly, and he wouldn’t know where he’d be if I didn’t do that. He eventually got into a job as a bio technician again, making a massive amount of money, and remarried with a doctor, who makes an absurdly large amount of money.
In the past year my sister has come to love my dad as well, realizing my mom set her up to hate him, and feeling guilty she didn’t think of him as I did over the years. Now my mom is a lot more open with him too.
So, because I was a bored child who discovered Yahoo chat pool, I gave my dad his old happy life back (or as close as he would get).
11/26. When I was 10, I said to my mom “Why are you married to Dad? He’s not even nice to you.” She filed for divorce like a week later. When I got older she brought up the story, and it kind of freaked me out. Obviously their marriage sucked ass before that, but it was weird to find out that something a 10 year old said made such a huge impact.
12/26. When I was 7, in the fall of second grade, my dad passed away from an aneurism. My entire second grade class made me cards. It was a big thing. Fast forward to that April. There was a Daddy-Daughter Dance at my school. I told my mom I wanted to go and naturally, she expected me to back out.
The day of the dance rolls around and I had yet to back out. My mom helps me get dressed, asking me if I’m sure I still want to go. I assure her that I still want to go. After we get me ready, my mom takes me to the school and opens the car door. I hop out, tell her I love her, and walk into the Daddy-Daughter Dance with my head held high… all by myself.
Years later, my mom told me that she cried so hard when I got out of the car and that was the day she knew that I was going to be just fine.
13/26. When I was about 9, my mom came to pick me and my brother up from Christian summer camp. My family has never been religious but I think my mom didn’t mind my brother and I spending an hour or two a day in church if we spent the other 14 outside hiking, climbing, swimming, etc.
Anyway, on the car ride home, my mom asked us something like “did you guys learn anything?” and I responded by telling her that “all Jewish people go to hell.” My mom said “but what if they were good people?” to which I responded, “it doesn’t matter, mom. They haven’t accepted Jesus as their one true savior.” I didn’t think anything of it at the time but apparently it bothered my mom so much that she never took us to church again.
14/26. This one is kind of odd, but when my parents divorced when I was just six years old, my mother kept the house we lived in and my father built a new house next door, all because of me. He didn’t want to be an “every-other-weekend dad” even though he paid child support that way. I grew up in a small town and the two houses were probably 200 to 300 yards apart, with just some woods separating them. I had a bedroom at each house and would alternate houses each night. It created a weird dynamic but could see either parent whenever I wanted. Walking back and forth between houses day after day had worn out a pathway in the woods between the two houses. When I turned 18 and moved away, my mother also finally sold the house a couple years later and moved. Just recently I visited my father in my home town and walked to the edge of the woods. There’s no trace of that well worn path anymore, but I can still see it in my imagination and remember the sacrfice my father made to be with me. Never even realized it at the time.
15/26. When I was just little (I wanna say 2 or 3) I was in my high chair at the table. My mom was off doing something and by dad playing video games. My dad got up and started doing something else and noticed this:
A 2 (or 3) year old boy, calmly sitting at the table in half light (multi lighted dining area), eating his dinner very politely without noise, complaint or a second thought. It hit my dad so hard, the saddest sight he says he’s ever seen. His 2 (or 3) year old already adjusted to eating dinner alone. He stopped my mom, they came over and turned on the lights, and sat down and talked to me while I ate. To this day, even though I’m 20 and trying to get life worked out on my own, they make sure I’m not too lonely.
I love my parents. Typing that made me notice the onions that were being chopped in my room… Stupid onions.
Continue onto the next page for more!
16/26. This is more of a vice versa.
Last week, I received an email from my daughter’s teacher. They were doing a project on who is the most inspiring person to them. Most of the kids put cartoons, superheroes, movie stars, singers and the like, and so the teacher was able to have the kids print those pictures off the net. It turns out my daughter listed me. So would I be so kind as to reply with a picture of myself?
I was a blubbering mess for a good half hour. I was so surprised because I don’t exactly consider myself father of the year. I’m now much more aware of how I act around my daughter now that I realize how much kids pay attention to the things their parents do.
Anyway, when she was born I set up a hotmail account for her and I email the account once a week as sort of like a journal, telling her about the things she’s done, or I’ve done, and what happened that week. I plan on giving her the password to the email address when she graduates high school, and I’m sure this email her teacher sent is one of those moments where she will realize the impact she’s had on me.
17/26. When I was little I noticed my parents drank a lot and they fought. I one day told my mom that it’s bad they have beer. My mom was shocked I made that connection and took beer out of the house for good. It was maybe 10 years later and I asked them why they didn’t drink at home and she told me that story and how it saved their marriage.
18/26. When I was 9 I told my mom that she would die of cancer and leave me an orphan if she didn’t stop smoking, and she stopped smoking.
19/26. Not me, but my older sister has a good one that really impacted my mom. She’s 7 years older than me and maybe 4, 5 years old at the time. She’s sitting in the back seat of my mom’s car on her way home from a play date or birthday party or something. She’s telling our mom all about her friends, and she gets to this argument she had with some boy (lets call him Timmy, I have no idea what his name actually was). She said something like this:
“And Timmy told me Santa wasn’t real, but I said he has to be real because my mommy would never lie to me, right mommy?”
As this all happened before I was born, my mother was terrified to even suggest the idea that Santa is real to me.
20/26. I caused my parents to get married. They’re still married too, I’d say it was a pretty big impact.
Continue onto the next page for more!
21/26. I didn’t have a happy childhood until I met my “father”. When I was very young, my mother introduced men into my life by telling me (in private) that “This is your dad. Be nice so that he’ll stay.” Whenever the men left (which was usual after a month or two) and another came 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 7 or 8 years old, my mother dressed me very nicely and had a talk with me as we rode 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.
Sooner or later, he ended up marrying my mother. She wasn’t (isn’t) a nice person. 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. 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 4 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’.” That was the last time I saw him in person.
I lived my messy teenage years, and I left my 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 have sex before you’re married.” “Use college to find yourself.” “It’s okay to try drugs, but be careful and don’t let yourself get addicted.” “Don’t be afraid to question authority.” I did 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 to have. 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 6 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) 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 learnt 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.
22/26. For my Dad’s 40th birthday, we decided to drive to Disney World (from PA, a 17 hr drive). He’s a big Dead-head. My older brother (13) and I (9) decided to use my brother’s computer to make him a mix, but in a very sneaky way: we make a fake creative writing prompt for my English class as a way to ask him what his favorite playlist would be. He was none the wiser. On the 3rd CD of the mix, we slipped a song in of us singing him “Happy birthday.”
I didn’t know at the time, but apparently it was the night shift that song came on. The combination of all his favorite songs on this thoughtful mix and his sons singing him happy birthday was overwhelming: he pulled over, woke my mom up, and they cried together from happiness. I never knew about it until a few years ago.
23/26. When my dad took me to Disney world he was still a smoker. One day after a fairly long day of rides and such I wanted to go on one more ride. He said ok, but first let me have a cigarette. I said nah it’s ok, we can head out then. He quit smoking then and there, cold turkey.
Continue onto the next page for more!
24/26. Apparently I guilted my dad into sobriety, though I have no memory of it. Early Saturday morning (after cartoons) I tugged on his sleeve while he was sleeping off a hangover, and he rolled over and yelled ‘Bleearghleemeealone!’ so I screamed and ran away. He said the look of terror on my face convinced him to stop drinking.
25/26. Just found out a few months ago that I liked pulling on my mom’s earrings when I was a baby and eventually I ripped them both out one day. She had to have plastic surgery to fix her ear lobes, but didn’t have the money for the procedure until a few years later. I’m 22 now and she still wears her hair so that no one can see her ears. Feels bad man.
26/26. I was born.
My dad had to sell his sports car to pay for the birth, then spent the next few years biking to work.