As much as I hate to admit it, I have made my children cry. It’s happened a handful of times over the past decade. It breaks my heart to see any of my children hurting, even more so when I’m the cause. Back when I was in college I swore I would never do that, but, as you know, life just doesn’t always work out the way you think it should, or will.
I remember driving along, several years ago, with my wife and my three youngest children. It was a spring day, the sun was high in the sky, it was warmer than usual, and we were headed to a graduation open house. For whatever reason, my wife and I were having a disagreement over something, and I muttered under my breath (or so I thought), “Well I guess I’m just a terrible person!” Almost instantly I heard sniffles and a moan from the back seat. It was my six-year-old daughter. She was crying. “I don’t think you’re terrible daddy,” she exclaimed. “I love you!”
With that, my heart sank to the deepest pit possible. I was crushed. I had made my little girl cry for no reason other than my foolish words. It was one of those moments where you realize, even as an adult, how much growing up you still have to do!
Word are powerful. I’m sure in your own life you know how true that statement is, because you’ve either witnessed their power, or made a choice with your words, that caused destruction. I’m learning just how closely our children watch us and how intently they listen to every word we say. If you think yours are not paying attention, think again. They are! And they are storing everything they see and hear in the vault of their heart!
That’s why it’s so important, as fathers, that we use our words to build our children up. The most important thing a father can do is invest in his children. One big way you invest is by being present in their lives. But a close second to that is encouragement. You and I must take every opportunity to encourage our children with words. Words without action are dead, so it’s important to back everything we say up with an action step. But it all begins with our words…
4 Things Our Kids Need To Hear From Us.
1. “I’m proud of you!” There’s nothing more powerful that an attaboy or an attagirl. In fact, when it comes to building their self-esteem, saying “I’m proud of you,” is like building a skyscraper in seconds. You cannot begin to imagine how much these words impact their little minds. A few days ago, I cupped my eight-year-old’s face in my hands, peered into his eyes, and told him, “I’m proud of you buddy!” A grin crossed his face from ear to ear, and his eyes lit up. I was moved but I was also convicted. I realized in that moment that I needed to make a point to say that to him, and all of my kids, more often than I do. Our children need to hear this from us.
2. “I love you!” We don’t say this enough. And often, we say it flippantly, as if it’s on a checklist. We need to say this to our children way more than we do. I’m pointing at myself by the way. “I love you” is one of those statements that needs to be backed up with action. In fact, it’s critical that we do so. Words can be cheap and used to the point that their depth is lost. So, let your kids know you love them in both word and action!