It’s me, Justin, and I’m excited to share a bit about what kids need to hear from Dad. While Marit and I usually decide on topics and discuss content about family culture together, Marit typically does the actual writing and design. Why? Because she’s great at it.
But this topic is about Dads, so it’s my turn to write!
We take seriously the words our kids say to others. We’re probably pickier than most parents, to be honest.
We also take the words we, as parents, say to our kids very seriously. Why?
The words we say to our kids become the soundtrack of their childhood. With this in mind, here’s what kids need to hear from Dad (and Mom)!
“I Love You”
Nothing could be more powerful than these three words. The Bible (in 1st Corinthians 13) compares love to many other wonderful qualities and ranks it as most important.
With kids, it’s important to avoid tying our love to their actions or achievements. If we only express love to our kids when they are doing something awesome, they will begin to try and perform for it.
What kids need to hear from Dad is that they are loved because of who they are, not because of what they do. In fact, that exact phrase is one of our Words To Live By – 36 Life Phrases we want our kids to know.
When children know they are unconditionally loved, everything else gets better. They are more confident in themselves, they communicate better and feel more secure.
“I’m Proud of You”
We all look for affirmation from those we love most – even the roughest, toughest guy out there (like me 💪). Deep down inside, we all want our fathers to be proud of us.
Our kids will only know what we say and show them.
If we don’t get that message from our fathers, we will work to hear those words from someone else. This can lead our children to insecurity, becoming a workaholic or having unreachable standards for their own children someday.
Sometimes, dads struggle to communicate these sentiments to our children. We can be guilty of assuming they know, but we our kids are not mind-readers. Our kids will only know what we say and show them.
“You are Capable”
At one time or another we’ve all asked ourselves, “Do I have what it takes?” This question, if answered early and completely, can build large amounts of confidence in a child.
When we have confidence, we’ll be more apt to take on large challenges that require a healthy self-image. Believing you can do great things is the first step toward accomplishing all God’s created us for.
Who kids are, as people, matter. Their opinions, feelings and ideas are also valuable and important.
When a child is repeatedly told to be quiet, stop asking questions, or not to share their ideas, they’ll begin to take on a “follower “mentality. This mentality can lead to a lack of initiative or confidence in themselves and what they have to offer the world.
We try to encourage our kids to share their ideas on a variety of topics. We look for opportunities to use their ideas and praise them for their great thinking. Our kids have come up with several good ideas that have made their way into the ministry I lead, and I try to give them credit.
“I Enjoy Being With You”
We like to be with people who like to be with us.
It’s human nature to enjoy the company of those who like and appreciate us. When we communicate this important message to our children, it leads our kids wanting to spend time with us.
We like to be with people who like to be with us.
Enjoying time together is important as kids grow older and get more freedom with their time. Quality time leads to quality
communication, and that is vital during the pre-teen and teenage years. If your children are younger, start communicating this message now so they believe it when they are older.
“I Forgive You”
Kids will make mistakes. In fact, mistakes mean you’re trying. (Yep, that’s another one of our Words to Live By!)
You make mistakes, so do I, and there is no way for our kids to go through life without messing up a few times.
But, how will we react when mistakes happen? Will we yell and get visibly angry, demonstrating to our kids that mistakes are to be avoided at all expense? If we take that route, our kids will become tentative and unsure about whether to come to us when they make a mistake.
We must extend forgiveness to our kids. When we say, “I forgive you,” it will open them up to learning
vital lessons in the maturing process.
Forgiveness also clears the communication channels between us and our child. If they understand that forgiveness will be offered when they come to us about their mistakes, they will be much more likely to admit wrong doing in the future.
Ultimately, kids learn about who God is, as a parent, from how we act as their earthly parents. How our kids experience us during times of sin will determine their view of how
God acts toward them when they sin as well. There is always grace.
This one is hard for us guys. We tend to think apologizing is a sign of weakness.
The truth is, we don’t have to be wrong in order to say we are sorry.
Apologizing to our kids shows humility, understanding, and that we value our relationship with them. I have heard the saying “you can be right, or you can be happy”.
Sometimes, being correct in a situation is less important than the relationship itself. We’re not perfect (newsflash: our wives and kids know that already), and sometimes it’s nice for them to know that we realize it, too.
“God created you for a purpose”
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain
People don’t always know what is in them, and what they are capable of, until someone else notices it.
When we recognize great things in our children, we must call those things out. This can be done informally as you go through life and make observations, formally by writing them a letter, or taking a defined moment to speak truth into them.
As fathers, we have an important role to help our kids discover the high calling God has for our kids. Be a dad who calls out the greatness in your child, and watch them blossom into who God created them to be.
Are some of these phrases easier or harder for you? Take some time to ask yourself “Why?” The answer just might be an area where you can grow as a parent and in relationship with your child.
When consistently and authentically shared, this list of what kids need to hear from Dad will help kids feel loved, secure, and valued in a family.