In Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, he outlines five ways to experience and express love. One of those love languages is words of affirmation. This one is probably my number one love language, although it used to be second to quality time. I always feel loved or blessed when someone speaks words of encouragement over me or just tells me how they feel about me. This isn’t a selfish feeling – it’s simply a way that I feel love.
There are three things my Ma (my nickname for my Mom) and my Pops (my nickname for my Dad – who I also call Daddio, Dad, or Father) have said to me that have blessed me far beyond what they could have ever imagined. These three simple sayings can change your child’s life – I guarantee it. Here they are.
1. I love you.
These three simple words have the power to bring life into your child. Let’s face it – “we all wanna be loved” (a little DC Talk reference for ya).
My Dad’s father died at the young age of 46. My Pops told me his father not once told him he loved him. I can’t imagine how crushing that was for him. I can’t imagine not hearing those three words from my Ma or Dad. My father told me that he would never be that way and that he would always tell me he loved me. And he has – through thick and thin, he and my Ma have always made it known that they love me.
I challenge you, parents, to let your children know each day how much you love them. Affirm them. The love of a mother and father is vital to life.
“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure: acceptance, understanding, and appreciation…” – Vera Nazarian
2. I’m proud of you.
The first time I recall my Pops telling me he was proud of me was February 3, 2006 at my Marine Corps Boot Camp graduation. We had just performed the drill ceremony for the parents and visitors, received our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and were officially announced as Marines. When the reception was over and parents were allowed to greet their children, my Dad came over to me, hugged me as we both sobbed, and told me he was proud of me. I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. It changed me. To have a father’s affirmation is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
Fathers and mothers, affirm your children. Tell them you’re proud of them. Even if they may not be living a lifestyle you approve of, say it anyway. There’s something about those four words that have the power to change someone.
3. I believe in you – “You can do it!”
Growing up, my Ma always told me she believed in me. No matter what I wanted to do, she was my biggest fan shouting, “You can do it!”
She supported me in literally anything and everything I wanted to do. From karate training (of which I barely finished one class – sorry Ma!), to football, baseball, basketball, drums, singing, stand-up comedy - you name it, she supported me. She was always (and still is) speaking encouraging things over my life.
Children, young and grown-up, all have dreams. We all desire to be something great. When your child tells you his or her farfetched dream of becoming an astronaut, or the next President, or flying to Mars on a huge rocket made of skateboards and silly string, just tell them you believe in them. Let them know that no matter what, you’ll be there, cheering them on.
“Children will not remember you for the material things you gave them but for the feeling that you cherished them.” – Richard L. Evans