Do You Love Me, Dad?


I finally figured out my dad loved me. (Why are guys’ relationship with their dads so complicated?)  It wasn’t when I wanted to find out—twenty years after my dad died–but, hey, better late than never, right?

Still, if I could have done it any other way…

My wife and I were kissing our kids goodnight after twenty minutes of their diddling around: drinks of water, bathroom runs, the clearing of real and imaginary obstacles: glow-in-the-dark sneakers, dragon poop (don’t ask). They were finally in bed.

I began the benedictions. For Beth it was, “I love you more than insert-increasingly-huge-object here.” At the moment it was “the Milky Way.” For Mandy it was, “I’ll never stop loving you.” Only lately she’d started cutting me off with, “Yeah, I know, Dad.” I needed a new line.

Finally, Trudy and I did our own bedtime rituals, hit the lights, and assumed spoon drawer positions.

And then it began:

Titter, titter, titter.

“Honey,” Trudy whispered.

“Get back in bed!” I yelled. The titters stopped. Little feet thumpa-thumped back into their room. We started to drift off again.

Titter, titter, titter.

“You heard Daddy!” Trudy shouted.



Almost asleep.

Thumpa, thump, titter, titter, titter.

“Last time!” Trudy warned. “Get back in bed and stay there!” Even I was scared.

We’d almost made it to slumberland when the thumps and titters resumed.

It was an unusually bad night.

“OK, that’s it!” I shouted. I leaped from the bed. Ran out the door. Down the hall and into the kid’s room. Just in time to see the covers wafting down onto their beds and to hear the springs squeaking frantically. And then I lost it. I shouted. Not in that controlled “parent” way like before. More like an erupting volcano:

“Don’t you dare get out of those beds again! Do you hear me?”

Brittle, terrifying silence.

“Do! You! Hear! Me?”

Deafening silence.

And then the worst sound in the universe: the sound of children cryingnot ordinary kid-crying, but the sound of children crying out of fear. Fear that I had created, that I, their father, had created. Because I was mad. In both senses of the word: Angry. And crazy. Because these were–are–two of the three humans I loved most in the universe.

My dad had this anger thing. He’d go along for weeks or months at a time, and then something would set him off, and he’d detonate. Like an atom bomb. He scared the you-know-what out of me. But you know what I hated most about it?

That I caught it from him.

I looked down at Mandy and Beth, crying in the dark, and I suddenly knew two things: I never wanted them to be afraid of me. Ever. And I never wanted them to doubt my love. Ever. So I got down on my knees between their beds and asked God to forgive me.

Then I asked Beth and Mandy to forgive me.

Mandy crawled out of bed and put her skinny little arm over my shoulder and said, “I forgive you, Daddy…and I know you’ll never stop loving me.” Then Beth was there—crying because Mandy was crying—and she said, “I love you universes and universes full!”

There was a third thing I knew that night–really knew–for the first time ever: That my dad loved me. Because for about five minutes I was him, all anger and self-loathing, and I suddenly realized that, along with the anger, I got his love. And I knew that he would have died a thousand deaths for me, just like I would for my kids.

Because he loved me.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

do-you-love-me-dad_340_340Pastors, Teachers, and Actors: The above is a personal account, but you can download a performable script version by clicking here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Do You Love Me, Dad?

  1. I think this morning, Mitch, there is going to be many a father who will read this and say, thank you for writing this. Lets begin with me. :O)

    Liked by 2 people



    You did it again.  Brilliant piece that touches deeply.  I have that T shirt, bro.Thank you and be blessed. Joe YAKOVETIC PRODUCTIONS 16221 Flallon Avenue Norwalk, CA 90650

    cell: 909.241.6088

    SDG Soli Deo Gloria “To God Alone the Glory” From: Mitch Teemley To: Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 9:49 AM Subject: [New post] Do You Love Me, Dad? #yiv5304233105 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5304233105 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5304233105 a.yiv5304233105primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5304233105 a.yiv5304233105primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5304233105 a.yiv5304233105primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5304233105 a.yiv5304233105primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5304233105 | mitchteemley posted: “So I finally figured out my dad loved me. (Why are guys’ relationship with their dads so much more complicated than those with with their moms?)  It wasn’t when I wanted to find out—twenty years after my dad died–but, hey, better late than never.” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful.
    i’ve shared your words on my FB page, and i’m trusting that God will direct those to it that need to read it….
    Thank you, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Bless you, Matilda! (P.S. Just noticed you’ve launched a blog, but didn’t see a Follow or Subscribe button.)


      • oops….i put in my website (which at this moment does not include a blog page — but Will when i redo it hopefully before the year is out — long story).
        Thank you for your willingness to “follow”….i hope one day to have things to say that will be of benefit to others, as your words always are to me….and when that day comes, i’ll be sure to let you know. i do so appreciate the way you use your many gifts!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dorothy Hill says:

    Thank you for your soul baring words. Powerful and needed. I’m also sharing on FB.
    Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Erika Kind says:

    I completely hear you, Mitch. I would have never thought before I had kids or before they reached a more “stressful” age that I would ever yell at them. But I was lucky with one thing: They never came out of their rooms once we said good-night.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    “I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master” — John Newton. Your daughters saw proof that Christ was indeed your Master, as you humbly and lovingly knelt between their beds that night. I’ll bet the recollection of that event is one of the sweetest memories they hold to this day. Thank you for the powerful real-life lesson, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. claire says:

    Reminds of an old story I’d tell my kids when mum had totally “lost it” sometimes (I brought up 7 kids on my own so there were some such occasions as you can imagine)..
    There were two men who each had a young slave boy. The boys were naughty and would often play by the harbor’s edge whilst their masters did business, The first master would quietly tell his boy off and explain the danger, the second would yell and shake the boy. Everyone felt sure the first was the best master until one day they both fell in. The second man jumped into the water to save the boy, the second merely walked away saying, “I warned him not to play there he should have listened.”. You see the second man truly cared about the boy, it was easy for the first to be nonchalant because he didn’t care much if at all.
    Part of raising kids right is to insist they “toe the line” love does this, (of course hopefully with quiet but firm resolve and consistency, but of course we are all still human.)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. jacobemet says:

    Astonishingly vulnerable to admit; and yet the brightest lights shine from the cracks of our earthen vessels. For in weakness, He is strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Discover Your Native American Name! | Mitch Teemley

  10. Kelly Anne Liberto says:

    Who has not had a moment like this? But, few would admit it. Thank you for sharing such a powerful message Mitch. Your little girls comment, “I love you universes and universes full!” what a sweetheart. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. what a touching post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Very moving… and unfortunately, close to home.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful post. You know, daughters can have problems with their dad’s too. You’re blessed that even if your dad has an issue with explosive anger, he loved you. My dad’s issue is that he can’t love and he certainly wouldn’t cause himself any discomfort on my behalf. I’m still grappling with it but I deal with it by turning to my heavenly Father, who stopped at nothing to save me. His love I can count on. I can count on the fact that he loves my dad too and understands him, even though I can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    This isn’t exactly a Father’s Day post. It’s a bit too messy for that. But then, love is messy.


  15. nancyehead says:

    Reblogged this on Nancy E. Head and commented:
    Here is a remarkable look in the mirror for us all for Fathers’ Day. But moms can see themselves here too. I do!


  16. oneta hayes says:

    So glad you are a father who knew where to go for forgiveness. What sorrow for the ones who really do love, but go back to bed, still angry and filled with grief knowing their children are lying in bed growing bitter and insecure, but not knowing what to do about it. Or, if knowing, they are to proud/insecure to bend their knee to God and the children. Terrific post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jay says:

    WEird how something like that can bring you closer to your own father, but I guess that’s why there’s a universality to parenthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Terri Nida says:

    Well done. I didn’t get that anger from my father, but from my seemingly mentally ill mother. Mood swings and all. Thank you for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That is a good description of me – both the explosion and the saying sorry. Thank goodness for forgiveness and the Holy Spirit that strengthens us to get again!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow Mitch, very nice. I never met my dad until I was 34 years old. He told me then that he had always loved me. Too much time had passed to truly have any feelings for this old man and he died a year later. But it was necessary for me to know that he did love me.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lucie says:

    A great piece, Mitch. I so appreciated your honesty and raw vulnerability….beautifully written and a great reminder that love comes wrapped in different colored wrapping…. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is a great post, Mitch. The ending really kicks.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Mythologize Yourself | Mitch Teemley

  24. Gritty Momma says:

    I needed to read this tonight. Teared up. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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