Because he told me.
My dad told me he loved me and my sisters all the time. He still tells me today. And I tell my children every, single day, “I love you.”
There was a time a generation or two ago when it was not common for dads to tell their children, “I love you.” A father’s love was supposed to be understood, not said. Still today, some dads believe they are too macho to say “I love you” to their kids – that it somehow makes them or their children “soft” if they say it too much.
This mentality is antiquated, is in no way “manly,” and is just flat-out wrong. Yes, in many instances, actions speak louder than words. This goes beyond that. Words have meaning, and these words are some of the most important your children will ever hear.
I don’t subscribe to the idea of showing tough love towards your children. A father’s love, approval and acceptance – both shown and spoken – can be the bedrock on which a child’s dreams and aspirations rest, and too many father’s choose to withhold these things from their children.
There are also many dads, like my own, who tell their children daily that they love them. Even so, we fathers must be steadfast to make sure those words resonate and are not just delivered as if you were reading the grocery list.
Children with involved and loving fathers will go through times of self-doubt and struggle just like everyone else. But when their identity is grounded in the knowledge that their father’s love is and will always be there – and that knowledge is affirmed through spoken words – they are more capable of overcoming hardship.
In a 2012 ScienceDaily.com study, it was found that “when it comes to the impact of a father’s love versus that of a mother, results from more than 500 studies suggest that while children and adults often experience more or less the same level of acceptance or rejection from each parent, the influence of one parent’s rejection – oftentimes the father’s – can be much greater than the other’s.”
And this type of rejection of our children negatively affects our wives and mothers of our children, as well.
“The great emphasis on mothers and mothering in America has led to an inappropriate tendency to blame mothers for children’s behavior problems and maladjustment when in fact, fathers are often more implicated than mothers in the development of problems such as these,” said Ronald Rohner, University of Connecticut professor and co-author of the study.
Translation: Dads, step up. Be involved. And say “I love you” to your children.
Make no mistake: Not saying these words is rejection in the eyes and mind of a child, with long-lasting and deep-rooted negative consequences for them, for you, for your spouse/their mother.
A father’s love is one thing a child should never have to wonder about.