Written affirmations and encouragements are invaluable tools that will go beyond you. How can you optimize your impact on your children? Put it in writing. To me, this has been especially apparent in the life of my daughter. By no means am I saying that it cannot have a huge impact on your boys, but I am convinced that daughters have a special treasured place in their hearts for such things.
Dads, your kids have different needs for guidance and teaching. However, they all need affirmation. This encouragement needs to be spoken and written. You don’t have to be a great writer to create notes of affirmation. “You are awesome.” “I love you.” “I’m so glad you are mine.” “You make my life so much better.” These will do more for the confidence and self-worth of your child than anything you could buy them or provide for them.
More than ever, we are seeing how the role of dads is crucial in the lives of kids. This does not take away from the loving mother, but it does impact their lives in very specific ways. Kids with loving dads are shown to perform better in school and sports. They are less likely to develop unhealthy dependencies, less likely to develop a criminal history, and less likely to experience pregnancy prior to graduation.
Obviously, more is required than our presence. We need to be that rock for them. We also need to strive to be great communicators. My father, now 87 years old told me that his father loved him. He knew this. However, he could only remember his father saying “I love you” once. To me this was tragic. This also meant no cards or letters of admiration and affirmation. My dad did his best to do a better job for me and my sisters. However, this was difficult for him due to the fact that he had no personal model of this behavior.
One time, my dad told me of a time that he got into a fight in grade school. Back then, corporal punishment practices were much more severe. There was not a whole lot of positive reinforcement. However, he remembers his teacher taking him into the classroom and giving him a hug. My father wept. It is indescribable what love and affirmation do for a child at any age. We cannot rely on what they should know or their memory of the last time you encouraged them.
I know that you probably are encouraging and loving. However, this needs to take a higher priority with fathers in general. To me, I have found it invaluable to write things that will go beyond me, meaning my unpredicted lifespan. I may live to be a very old man. I may be gone tomorrow. That is why it is crucial for me not to wait or delay in getting on this train. My kids will need sources of referral when I am no longer around. What a treasure it could be to have letters, notes, texts, emails, etc.
Another reason that I have found for implementing this practice, is that I don’t want to create an excuse for my children to fail. We live in a society where few people don’t blame others for their problems and failures. I believe it is important for my kids to own these times in order to grow and prevent an unhealthy cycle of excuses. Dads, if you don’t know by now, a lack of father’s affection is a default button for kids to dwell in mistakes and failures. Don’t allow this in your family. Your written affirmation will give them the “I can” attitude to pull themselves through the difficult times.
The final benefit or “win win win” is what such practices will do for your marriage. Your kids are going to grow up and leave. Your wife will most likely still be around. You need to understand how a practice of love and affirmation affects your spouse. Your love for her children is by default an additional show of love for her. It brings peace to the home, makes you more respected, makes you more attractive…yes I said it. It makes you appear to her as the man she is proud of.
We don’t have any guarantees for tomorrow. Time is not on our side. Don’t let chances pass you by. Take time to write a note, send a text, a card, or an email. The benefits are overwhelming. Be who you need to be for your kids. Be the best dad possible.