Not long ago, I was backing the car out of the driveway, probably heading out to cross something off the honey-do list. My second daughter, Aaliyah, was sitting on the curb with one of her friends. So, I put the window down and kind of yelled out, “Okay, Aaliyah, love you baby.” It was nothing that unusual.
But as my words reached the two girls, I noticed something in my daughter’s friend. Her body language totally changed. It was like all her energy left her, or a big weight was suddenly placed on her shoulders.
My first thought was, Did I just blow it? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?
But then I remembered what this little girl faced every day with her own father. She never receives any affirmation at all from him. He doesn’t live with her and rarely even sees her. He is apparently more concerned with feeding his chemical addictions than attending to his daughter’s well-being or her moral and spiritual development.
Her spirit was craving a word of affirmation from her dad. So much so that it was taking a physical toll on her body.
No I hadn’t made a mistake. This little girl needs to know that there are men who express love and care deeply about their children. It was a real “aha” moment for me, because it reminded be of the power of a father’s words.
Guys, I can tell you from my own experience, children need to hear and see that we place high value on them. I didn’t hear that kind of affirmation from my dad, and it’s hard to communicate today what difference that would have made in my life. I can’t tell you what I would give today to go back and change some things about my youth. One father says “I love you.” The other doesn’t. For the child, there’s a profound difference.
Men, hear this. When children know they are loved and accepted by their fathers, the weight is lifted. They have one less thing to worry about, and one big person in their life to whom they don’t have to prove themselves. They can relax a little bit and proceed with confidence to think about and do the things that kids are supposed to think about and do.
Please, make sure your kids know how much you love them.
Amos Johnson III is a former staff member of the National Center for Fathering.