Take “I love you” a Step Further

The Championship Fathering blog by Carey Casey


How do you express love to your children? It’s a basic question, but one we might not really consider often enough.

First, it’s a great sign that so many dads today are comfortable saying “I love you” to their kids. That’s so much different from what many men received from their own dads growing up. And saying those three words is huge. It’s a tremendous blessing and benefit for our children.

It’s just that sometimes I wonder if we can do even better as dads. If we’re really committed to giving our children our very best, then our love needs to be heard and felt. Tweet this!

f5ff1e24-8dad-45ef-ab28-38a5c570ac40Here’s what made me think about this: Right now we’re receiving thousands of essays for this year’s What My Dad Means to Me essay contests, and we’re always inspired by the things kids write about their dads.

And just a year or two ago, a middle schooler named Blake did a great job of capturing his dad’s love for him. He wrote:

“What I think is best about my dad is that I can feel the love…. I have never questioned if I am loved. My dad has always told me, ‘You can be mad at me or hate me, you could do anything, but I will always love you.’”

Wow! That’s a powerful statement: “I have never questioned if I am loved.” Isn’t that what you would want your children to say someday? What a blessing for that young man.

Now I can hear some of you probably saying, “Carey, I finally muscled up the courage to start saying ‘I love you’ to my kids, and that’s not enough?” I know it doesn’t come naturally for most men, and few of us had good examples to follow in this area.

So I’m going to go a step further and actually give you a few phrases you can use to expand on the words “I love you.” One way to think about it is that you’re just explaining what you mean when you say “I love you.”

It could be something like this: “You don’t have to prove anything or be perfect at everything you do. I love you simply because you’re you.”

Or: “I love you. And that doesn’t always mean I’ll do what you want, but I’m always going to try to do what’s best for you and our family.”

Or maybe: “I love you. And sometimes I don’t know how to show it the best, but I’m working on doing it better.”

Blake’s dad obviously did it well, and it could be something like that: “There’s nothing you can do that would make me love you any less.”

Or, “Even when things are hard between us, I still love you.”

When your children know without a doubt that they are loved by their dad, they gain the confidence to achieve just about anything they set their minds to. Tweet this!

Try it, dad. Make sure your kids feel the love.

What are your best practices when it comes to expressing love to your kids? How do you drive home the point? Please join the discussion at our Facebook page.

Action Points

  • When you say, “I love you,” make your words convincing and undeniable. Look your kids right in the eyes. Embarrass them with the way you say it.
  • Along with “I love you,” practice some other affirming statements like: “I’m glad you’re my daughter.” “I’m proud of you.” “You bring joy to my life.” “You’re special just the way you are.” Get 10 more in this week’s Tools for the Journey.


Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering (NCF), as well as a husband, father, and grandfather. He is author of Championship Fathering and general editor of The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge. See more about Carey here.

NCF is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for NCF’s Today’s Father Weekly email here.

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