Every dad I know is proud of his children. We brag about their accomplishments at every turn: when they walk, when they talk, what they do in the classroom, on the sports field and at every stage of life.
But not enough of us know how to tell our children we love them.
I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because loveis such a strong word. Or maybe it’s because we think that our children know how we feel about them. Whatever the case, we should say it more to everyone we love, and especially to our children.
Every article I’ve read on raising a healthy child stresses the importance of praising your child when they do something well, such as getting a good grade on a test, telling the truth or helping someone. Experts remind us to talk to children – not yell at them – about things they could do better, be it acting appropriately or being a better version of themselves. But above all, our job is teaching our children honesty, integrity and moral values, and making sure they know they are loved.
I remember when my daughters were young. I’d watch them as they slept so peacefully in their cribs and think to myself how lucky I was to be their dad. I promised myself that I would try to set a good example for them on what a dad should be, that I would stay connected with them as they grew and that they would never not know how much I love them.
But as every parent knows, children grow up quickly. One minute you’re watching them take their first steps. The next thing you know, they’re off to kindergarten. From there, they make friends, your family circle grows and that playtime you loved so much when they were small gets hard to come by.
We don’t love our kids any less, we just don’t find the right time to tell them. That was my thinking, but that’s a lousy excuse. There is no reason to not tell your kids you love them. They need to hear it, and it’ll keep you close to them.
This month, my daughter Erin (on my right in the photo) will graduate from UCLA with her master’s degree in education – on Father’s Day, of all times – and my daughter Emily (on my left) will be home from her third year at UC Santa Barbara, where she is an outstanding student-athlete. I grow more and more proud of both of them every time I see them, and I admire the wonderful women they have grown up to be.
The most important title in my life isn’t “publisher,” It’s “Dad.” And the most important thing I try to do every day is make sure my children know I love them through my actions and my words.
So, to my fellow dads: Make this Father’s Day about how lucky you are to have a wonderful family – and tell your sons and daughters how lucky you are to be their dad.