Have you ever heard, “I’m proud of you” from your dad?
I know I’m blessed because I did hear that from my Pop. One memorable time was when he was visiting me here in Kansas City years ago. It was not long before he died, and his Parkinson’s was coming on. I was on staff at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and he rode along to see where I worked.
Dad was old school; he liked to wear a suit and tie when he traveled, and that’s how he was dressed that day. We went into my office, and the building there overlooks the baseball stadium. Dad sat down in my chair and swung around and looked out the window to take in the view. He glanced at me, and quietly looked out the window. I could tell he was soaking it all in and was moved by what he saw.
Then finally he said, “You know, I’m proud of you, Son.”
I’ll never forget that moment. And I am blessed, because he said those words to me many times in different ways through the years. But I also know many men have never heard those words from their fathers.
This theme is especially common when I’m interacting with athletes. Like many other men today, a high number of them long to be affirmed by their dads. Not long ago, I was interviewed by our friends at The Mentoring Project, and I explored this theme of affirmation from a father or father figure. Check out the video:
Were you affirmed by your father?
One man in his thirties told us he’d never heard his father say, “I am proud of you.” That dad is doing fine in many ways, but it tears him up whenever he thinks about that one thing that’s missing.
All children—at any age—need to be blessed verbally by their dads. They long to hear they are respected and appreciated. Something isn’t quite complete without it.
So then, as fathers ourselves, let’s make this happen. Even if you already tell them you love them, it’s valuable to express your commitment in other ways.
Look at your son or daughter squarely in the eye and say, “I am proud of you.” Or, “It’s a privilege just to be your dad.” Find legitimate reasons to praise your kids often. When you see some extra effort or the glimpse of success in something new they’re attempting, go a little overboard with positive encouragement.
And be specific. You might say, “I saw how you helped that other boy, and I’m proud of you.” Or “You’re accomplishing things far beyond anything I ever even attempted. You bless me.”
Words like that breathe life into our children. Through our blessings, we can remove that nagging need that could otherwise haunt them for their entire lives. Your words can help set them up to achieve greatness in whatever they pursue, whether they become famous athletes or go on to be everyday heroes in other, more significant ways.
Make sure the words “I am proud of you” echo in your children’s hearts and minds—even long after you’re gone. Like my pop did.
Are you able to affirm your children in this way? How challenging is that, especially if you didn’t get it from your dad? Please leave a comment at our Facebook page.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
- Remember that many other children outside your home are not getting this kind of affirmation from their dads. Can you be an encouragement to a child like that this week—and maybe include an “I’m proud of you”?
- If your dad was lacking in this area, cut him some slack. Remember, men of his generation weren’t expected to verbally affirm their children.
- Be ready to speak words of affirmation to your kids, and then look for your opportunities. You can give them positive memories that they will remember and depend on when life gets hard.
- Make sure you’re at your kids’ games and events. They might act like it isn’t a big deal, but it really is. (They may only realize it later.)
- What positive statements or truths from your father or another father figure have stuck with you through the years? Share one or two with your children.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, 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 Carey’s weekly email tips by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.