Fathers, you hold a really important place in the home; don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. In actual practice, it is probably more important than you would really prefer it to be. You are far more than a sperm donor or bread-winner; and to consider yourself anything less is just begging for an older life of regret.
And one of the major things that causes regret is failure to let your children know that you love them. There are, of course, lots of reasons or excuses fathers sometimes use for not communicating their love to their kids…
- “I’m busy making a living
- “I’m just not a very emotional person”
- “I’m not reall a verball expressive person”
- “I’m just not a hugger”
- “My dad didn’t show me and I don’t know how”
- “I’ve given them everything”
- “I never restricted them”
- “They’ll just know”
…but these won’t really help, when you realize that the opportunities have passed and the relationships have been lost.
How can I show my children how much I love them? Here are a few easy ones…
Tell them daily
Sure, I know that some of us dads are only a little more verbal than cavemen, but it isn’t rocket science to simply tell each child in the morning, “I love you, you know.” Five words daily— three, if you’re in a hurry—aren’t much to ask; and they will mean the world to your kids. You can be sure that they’ll remember those words more than many others that you’ll utter in their growing-up years.
Discipline them fairly and instructively
We’ve talked about discipline already, but I think it is important to stress here again how much appropriate discipline really does mean to children. OK, not so much, when they are being disciplined, but certainly later—especially if it is done fairly and instructively. Fair and instructive discipline says to the adult that the child will become, “I loved you and will always love you.”
Give them plenty of hugs
Yes, I know that not everyone is a hugger, but the good news is that you can learn to be one and should do so, if you have kids. Tickling and wrestling (‘rasling) with your kids will work just about as well, too. Children crave physical affection; and when hugs are accompanied by the words, the effect is powerful in the heart of a child.
Do stuff with them
One of the things that most kids want with their fathers is time. They want to learn by observing one of the most important people in their lives—so, work with them, fish with them, build with them, walk with them, go to ballgames with them, ride bikes with them, hunt with them, have tea parties with them, etc. And, no, watching TV with them doesn’t really count. Words can be hard to remember, but experiences with dad will last a lifetime.
Talk with them
Don’t know what to talk with them about? Well, try what you did together (see above). Other things would include school, church, friends, and anything that you know interests them. Don’t know what interests them? Hmmm, you need to talk more.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
We’ve all seen TV or movie stories of fathers that disappointed their children by promising to come to some event, only to break that promise because of work. Perhaps you’ve even experienced such disappointment yourself. Make and keep your promises, because they say, “You’re important and I love you.”
Don’t be a father with regrets. Tell your children how much you love them—early and often, as the saying goes. Use the opportunities now to build strong relationships and family ties for later in life.