Be the Dad 6. Be the 'I love you' Dad
‘I love you’ is a simple and powerful message that changed mine and my Mums lives, check out our story of how we overcame the awkwardness of saying this and the amazing effect ‘I love you’ will have in your families lives.
‘I love you’. These are 3 of the most powerful words that you can speak to your family that will affect their present moments and their future. They say: ‘I am on your side, I believe in you, I will stand up for you, we are connected’ and ‘you are special to me’.
‘I love you’. These three words, spoken daily and followed up with actions that reinforce these words, let your kids and wife know that they are safe, accepted and good enough. They will form the strong foundation and core of self belief, worth and emotional health that your family will approach life from. Your words will echo in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives even when you are not present.
When your family hears these words of love, they are hearing a much larger message that will change their lives:
I am important to Dad
I am accepted for who I am
I am worth spending Time with
I am loved
I am precious
I am valued
‘I love you’ from Dad and Mum sets the gold standard of what love looks like. Saying ‘I love you’ and then living your parenting and relational life in selfless giving, loving, resolving conflict, healthy intimacy and believing the best shows your family what true love looks like.
This will contrast against any unhealthy selfish picture of love your kids will come up against from movies, music, future friends and girlfriends or boyfriends.
Part 1 of 2 - The little girl who needed to hear the words
My Mum grew up in a family in the central South Island where her Mum and Dad had lived through a War, a Depression and had parents who had lived through the first World War. They were hard workers, (my grandad drove his tractor from Invercargill to Wanaka, over 300 km’s, to start off!) and were good providers but their heritage and the time period that they lived in lacked an important level of intimacy. My Grandfather had never really given my Mum much physical affection or told her ‘I love you’. ‘I love you’ was what she really wanted to hear. This created a gulf in my Mums Heart that still existed as an adult and a parent.
Hearing ‘I Love you’ from your Dad will set anxious hearts at ease. Fears of being not worthy and not valued will diminish and ‘I love you’ will establish a strong foundation for a healthy positive self image. People who don’t receive the love that they wanted and needed from their fathers, as adults are continually searching for ways to find and fill this.
One of our Jobs as Dad is to affirm our family and give them the confidence and courage to approach their lives.
‘Find a man who will treat you better than I do’ is a saying a friend says to his daughter when giving advice in what to look for as a man, and he treats her very well!
As a Father you are setting the standard for who they are and how they should be treated. If you have a Daughter looking for a future husband, she will be measuring all comers against how you treated her and made her feel, that is her measure of a man. Your sons will be affirmed as men and have an excellent example of a man who can speak and show affection and feeling.
Part 2 of 2 - My first time speaking rocks of Love
My wife’s family however had broken through these barriers and were excellent at expressing their love for each other. ‘Hey, I love you’, ‘Have a great day, I love you’. And this was backed up by authentic action. This was inspiring to me, I had the secret gnawing fear that one day I would die and may never have told my family ‘I love you’. So one evening when I arrived home from a five hour car trip, I summoned the courage after practising these words by myself in the car on the journey, entered my parents bedroom. I stood there at the doorway and told my parents who were half asleep that ‘I loved them’. It was like speaking rocks, heavy emotional lifting, so hard! There was a silence and then they both told me ‘and we love you too’. What a feeling! I knew we had had a huge breakthrough. I then started on my brothers and sisters and a chain reaction started. From that day to now, my family now expresses; ‘I love you’, you couldn’t stop it even if you wanted to because we have discovered the value to the hearer and the giver, and I know that we are better for it!
Are there too many times that you can say I love you? No. You may think that repetition doesn’t make it mean as much. If you want it to be more meaningful then add eye contact, touch them on the shoulder and say it sincerely.
Real words are followed up with real actions, say ‘I love you’ and then back it up with quality time, affection and interaction.
So Dad’s, be the ‘I love you Dad’, it will change your marriage and your family. Its only three words but those words will rock your world.