One of the biggest losses is the loss of your dad. It doesn’t matter how old you are when it happens; you feel as though a part of you is gone. If you grew up with an absent dad or one who never cared, the grief can be worse. Knowing you’ll never hear what you always needed to hear leaves a void in your life that you constantly try to fill but never really can.
If you’re a father celebrating Father’s Day with your children, it’s important to take time and think about what you say to your kids. Consider how you discipline them and what you value most. Kids know if they’re loved by the time and effort you put into raising them. They’re as sensitive to your body language as they are to your words.
Life is busy, but nothing should keep you so busy that you don’t take time for your children. Abandoning them physically or emotionally leaves a scar that never heals for them. Below are four things your child needs to hear AND see you say:
- You’re an important part of our family and I want to spend time with you. When dads shut down their gadgets and take time to play with their kids, they’re demonstrating that they value and like being around their children. This is important to kids that are learning trust and honesty and helps them feel secure.
- I believe in you. Dads are more influential when they let their child struggle and figure things out on their own, especially when their child knows dad believes in them. Doing everything for your child or making life too easy enables kids and sends a message that you don’t think they can handle it on their own. Most grownups still recall the exact times their dad told them he believed in them.
- The power of forgiveness. Dads are especially impactful with their ability to forgive. When kids witness dad saying, “I’m sorry,” it leaves a lasting impression on them. They learn that when you love someone, you sometimes make mistakes that hurt their feelings and you need to apologize for that. They also learn that feeling compassionate for another is not dependent on your gender, but on your ability to be empathetic for someone.
- I’m proud of you and I’m so happy you’re my child. In a society that praises children frequently, most kids grow up with too much praise. However, what truly leaves a lasting memory is when dad took notice of something a child worked for or accomplished that was outstanding for him or her. A dad’s words, “I’m proud of you,” can bring tears to the grown-up children who heard them, and this memory continues to live on in their heart and mind.
I’m not sure most dads understand the incredible impact they leave on their children’s lives. It’s easy to get caught up in work and forget your children are witnessing your values through your actions. When you mess up, take the time to say, “I’m sorry.” Tell them that you vow to be the best parent you can be. Explain that you make mistakes, but they were not meant to hurt them. Tell them you make mistakes because you love them so much and get scared sometimes. It is hard being a parent after all.