4 Things Every Kid Needs To Hear From Their Father.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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In a culture where words are cheap, it's crucial that we build our children up with encouraging words. Our choice to do this will leave a lasting impression on their lives, and change the future!

As much as I hate to admit it, I have made my children cry. It’s happened a handful of times over the past decade. It breaks my heart to see any of my children hurting, even more so when I’m the cause. Back when I was in college I swore I would never do that, but, as you know, life just doesn’t always work out the way you think it should, or will. Mind you, there are times when my children are crying because they screwed up and are in a lot of trouble. Their tears are warranted. But other times, I lost my temper or was distracted, or became too critical over something they were excited about. It’s a big responsibility to carry their tiny, fragile hearts in your hands.

I remember driving along, several years ago, with my wife and my 3 youngest children. It was a spring day, the sun was high in the sky, it was warmer than usual, and we were headed to a graduation open house. For whatever reason, my wife and I were having a disagreement over something, and I muttered under my breath (or so I thought), “Well I guess I’m just a terrible person!” Almost instantly I heard sniffles from the back seat. It was my 6 year old daughter. She was crying. “I don’t think you’re terrible daddy,” she exclaimed. “I love you very much!”

My heart sank to the deepest pit possible. I was crushed. I had made my little girl cry for no reason other than my foolish words. It was one of those moments where you realize, even as an adult, how much growing up you still have to do! Words are powerful. I’m sure in your own life you know how true that is because you’ve either witnessed their power, or made a choice with your words, that caused destruction. I’m learning just how closely our children watch us and how intently they listen to every word we say. If you think yours are not paying attention, think again. They are! And they are storing everything they see and hear in the vault of their heart!

That’s why it’s so important, as fathers, that we use our words to build our children up. The most important thing a father can do is invest in his children. One big way you invest is by being present in their lives. But a close second to that is encouragement. You and I must take every opportunity to encourage our children with words. Words without action are dead, so it’s important to back everything we say up with an action step. It all begins with our words.

4 Things Our Kids Need To Hear From Us.

  1. “I’m proud of you!” There’s nothing more powerful that an attaboy or an attagirl. In fact, when it comes to building their self-esteem, saying “I’m proud of you,” is like building a skyscraper in seconds. You cannot begin to imagine how powerful these words are to their little minds. A few days ago, I cupped my 8 year old’s face in my hands, peered into his eyes and told him, “I’m proud of you buddy!” A grin crossed his face from ear to ear, and his eyes lit up. I was moved but I was also convicted. I realized that I needed to make a point to say that to him, and all of my kids, more often than I do. Our children need to hear this from us.
  2. “I love you!” We don’t say this enough. And often, we say it flippantly, as if it’s on a checklist. I’m pointing at myself by the way. “I love you” is one of those statements that must be backed up with action. In fact, it’s critical that we do so. Words can be cheap and over-used to the point that they become shallow. So, let your kids know you love them in both word and action!
  3. “I believe in you!” Very much like building a skyscraper of self-esteem with “I’m proud of you,” letting our children know how much we believe in them also builds mountains of self-confidence. We live in a world that tears our children down everyday, and makes them believe that they will never succeed at anything. Unfortunately, they begin to believe this. A father’s belief in his children can change all of this. You and I become a forcefield of sort, that surrounds and protects our children as they walk through a cold and broken world. My 12 year old daughter likes to perform in musicals. In fact, she has been in 6 musicals straight since September of 2013. She has a voice that could rival any you see on The Voice. But she keeps getting passed up for lead roles. It’s defeating. Our hearts break for her every time the list is posted and she’s in the ensemble. One of the things that we do routinely is let her know how much we believe in her. We tell her how talented she is and how we would have chosen her for a role. We’re not blowing sunshine in her ear. We’re realists and we never sugarcoat anything. But we let her know how much we believe in her. It makes a world of difference and has helped her to keep going in-spite of rejection.
  4. “I’m in your corner!” If believing in your kids had a close cousin, “I’m in your corner” would be it. Through the ups and downs, and defeating moments of life, our children need someone who’s on their side, even when everyone else walks away. Dads- this is where you and I come in. Your children, and mine, need us in their corner, believing in them, cheering for them, and lifting them up, even when the world tells them they’re not good enough. A strike out- stand in their corner. A college rejection- stand in their corner. A close friend stabs them in the back- stand in their corner. They try something new and unknown- stand in their corner. Let them know you are behind them regardless of the curve balls life throws at them.

The influence of a father surpasses nearly every influence in this world. That’s why it’s so critical that we are involved in our children’s lives. But more than that- it’s critical that our children hear our voice of encouragement, letting them know we believe in them, we’re proud of them, and we love them!

It’s easy to get busy and lose sight of this. In fact, I go through times where I forget to speak words of encouragement and I justify it by thinking that my children already know. They do, but they need to hear it from me over and over again. Your children need to hear these words from you as well. So, what are you waiting for?

Have you failed your children with your words? How did you recover? What do you still have to do?

This post originally appeared on GoodMenProject.com.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.