I got to know a feisty teenage girl many years ago. While talking with her one night, she told me about trouble in her friendships. Without thinking, because I was young and brash, I said, “You sabotage your relationships since you’re afraid everyone will end up hurting you if you let them get too close.” She didn’t react and I thought very little about what I had said until many years later, when she told me it had so rocked her that she stayed up all night thinking about it. I had no idea.
That made me realize I needed to be more measured with my words, because words matter. They mean a lot—especially a father’s words to his children. Each day is an opportunity to speak life and truth into our kids. So here are 5 things to say to your kids every day.
1. “Hey, I love You.”
Love is one of those qualities that’s never subject to inflation. “I love you” doesn’t lose its effectiveness when it’s said on a regular basis. Tell your kids you love them. Say it every day; say it several times a day.
2. “So, Buddy, what are your plans for the day?”
This is not just about knowing, but about showing interest. It means a lot to kids that Dad cares about what they’re up to and takes the time to compare notes. “Here’s my business planner. I’ve got three big meetings. What do you have scheduled for the day?”
3. “I am so grateful to be your dad.”
Our children need to know how we feel about being their dad. So much is lost when communication breaks down and kids stop relating to their parents. We’re not talking about manipulation, but about communicating some of the passion and the joy we feel in response to this ongoing privilege of parenting.
4. “Have a great day at school, and don’t forget who you are.”
Your child is growing into an identity, a sense of self, each and every day. The most important attribute is his or her identity as a child of God. Your family name might be Smith, or Wagner, or Hernandez, but your child’s identity always has been and always will be “made in the image of God.” Remind your kids of that every day.
5. Words of Affirmation
The idea here is encouragement, “out-loud” belief, and a “heads-up” positive direction into the day. Repeated, ingrained affirmation delivered with the firm conviction of someone who loves his children and who believes in them. Do this every day. Deliver your words with sincerity, and make them count.
Sound off: What are some other things we should say to our kids each day?