“We love each other period.”
Today, I would like to tell you a story about a dad I know and his teenage daughter. It’s a story about how showing love can sometimes be as simple as a small gesture. It is also a story that reminds us that even when we think someone doesn’t hear us, appreciate us, or even love us, we are sometimes very mistaken and even pleasantly surprised.
This story starts several years ago and is based on accounts from the father himself. Although the daughter did not share much about this story verbally, she did share in another way more recently, which helps sum it all up and proves that love is appreciated, even when we don’t think so.
So the story goes:
This busy father was doing his best to raise his daughter along with his wife. Everything was going well, and then their daughter got to her teenage years, and things started to change. Almost overnight, the relationship between the daughter and her parents got rough. The parents saw a kid who used to be happy and driven seemingly turn into one who was unhappy and lacked ambition.
A girl who had been a good student just a few months before turned into one who was getting bad grades. A punctual and responsible student started getting marked tardy and absent, even though the bus was dropping her off at school. It didn’t make any sense to the parents, and soon after, the daily arguments started.
It was stressful for everyone involved since both the parents and the daughter didn’t really know each other’s true feelings about the situation or the emotions they were feeling. The father admitted that he should have done a better job of trying to figure out what was really wrong instead of just assuming. He assumed that it was hormones or a phase that every teenager goes through. He found out later he was only partially right.
The mother and father both did what they could to try and help. The mother talked to teachers, friends, and anyone else she could to try and figure out why her daughter’s behavior had changed. The father took a different approach. He figured he should start driving his daughter to school every day.
This was for two reasons. The first is obvious: Dropping off his daughter would allow him to visually see her walk into school. The second reason was so he could spend some extra time with her each day and maybe figure out what was bothering her.
Every morning, the dad waited in the car for his daughter. Most days she would reluctantly get in, almost always at the last possible moment. The dad would start the 10-minute drive to the school and would spend the time asking questions. How are you doing? Are there any classes you like at school right now? Did you finish your homework? Did you bring it with you? Is everything okay? Is there anything you want to talk about?
Most of these questions were answered with very short one-word responses, if they were answered at all. The dad remained vigilant and kept trying every day, but most days ended the same. He did most of the talking, and very little response was given by his daughter.
The father always made it a point to end each daily ride the same way. He would pull up to the drop-off spot and would say, “I love you. Have a great day.” He would also call out her name and say, “Challenge or inspire someone today, even if it’s just yourself.”
The replies to this were pretty much the same. Some days, there was no reply, and on others there was a roll of the eyes and maybe a faint “love you, too” once in a while, but that was it, not much more. The dad remained steadfast and kept doing and saying the same thing day after day. After two years of this, things finally started to change.
The daughter was able to express what was causing her to lose interest in school, and the communication between her and her parents improved dramatically. Once this happened, it seemed that things improved quickly, and she actually started driving herself to school and did what she had to do.
What changed and what was bothering her, you might ask? Well, that is a very long and private story, but that doesn’t matter because the moral of this story is quite different. Here is what both the parents and the daughter later found out.
The dad continued to do what he did and say what he said every day because he loved his daughter so much and just kept doing what he felt was right, but he was never really sure if it was appreciated. He struggled with many emotions, but the daughter did appreciate it even though she never said anything. One day, she proved it a different way.
Wondering how the story ends? Well, everything ended well. The daughter passed all her classes and graduated high school! It all turned out okay! And how did she finally express to her dad that she appreciated him? Well, she did it in a way that many Generation Z kids do. She got a tattoo.
Wondering what the tattoo was? Well, it was a simple phrase: “Challenge or inspire.” The father was so blown away. He had no idea that his daughter was listening or even appreciated what he said every day, but it became obvious at that moment that neither was true.
The dad in this story continued to show love every day and sometimes questioned whether it even mattered, but he kept going regardless because he loved her. The daughter was listening and appreciated it but never gave much daily feedback. Ultimately, she loved him, too. Sometimes in the moment, we don’t express our love for others in an obvious way, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t love them.
If you have not figured it out yet, the father in this story is me, and the daughter is my beautiful daughter, Gabriella. We love each other period, even when the other isn’t sure. I hope this story inspires you to keep loving others no matter what! God bless you, and thanks for reading this LONG message today. Love you all PERIOD!