Why and How Every Father Should Be Affirming His Young Son

PERSONALLY

As a man, I understand two things very well; affirmation and respect. I don’t just enjoy hearing or feeling those particular things in my life, I yearn for them. I need to hear words of affirmation from my wife, my father, my friends and my Heavenly Father. Without it I feel directionless and purposeless. I long to be respected as well. Gaining and getting consistent respect from my wife is very important to our marriage. I still long for my fathers approval and respect even though I don’t see him that often anymore. And, of course, I strive to be well respected and wanted by my work.

If it’s so important and desired by me, a full grown man, why wouldn’t it be important for my son to hear?

affirmyourson_middle

(An actual image of my son and I leaving Church one day!)

Age Does Not Matter

I’ll be honest, even though affirmation is such a big deal to me, I didn’t think my young son would like it so much. I didn’t even think he would understand what I was telling him. Why? My son was only 1 1/2 years old. That’s right, he could only say a couple of words himself, but he could understand a few words and phrases.

And to my surprise as I would put him down at night, I’d say the following words, “you did a good job today”. He didn’t say thank you and still doesn’t as he nears the age of two, but he always shakes his head yes and looks me straight in the eyes with a full smile.

It didn’t matter that he was under two years old, he understood a fathers affirmation.

What Should This Mean to Fathers?

I realized that day and everyday since that my two year old son is a lot like me. He may not be a man, but he is a Son of God who wants and desires to be loved by a father.

Just as you seek approval and affirmation from your father and Heavenly Father, so our boys (even young boys or toddlers) seek affirmation from us.

This means that no matter what age your son is, you must be more aware of affirming him. Don’t let moments or opportunities pass you by! Don’t be overshadowed by your needs and journey to personal approval that you forget to affirm your son.

Start enforcing and applying affirmation to your son or sons today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can You Affirm?

Take a moment and think about yourself. When do you like or need to be affirmed? When do you like to hear “good job” or “well done”? What does it mean to you? Explore these areas of your heart and apply them to your relationship with your son. Remember, age does not matter!

Here are a few phrases you can start using today:

“You did a great job today.”

“Thank you for your help.”

“Thank you for being a good boy for Mommy.”

“I appreciate your help in cleaning up.”

“You are a good boy.”

“I love you son!”

When was the last time you affirmed your son?

Strive to be a better father this year and seek to affirm your son or sons everyday! What is one way you affirm your son or sons?

 

  • Jon Walker

    Steven Glenn said that generic praise is not only impotent, it is counterproductive! At first, hearing things from your father like “You’re great!” or “You’re the best!” or “You’re super!” seems like a good thing, but after a while, those words become meaningless to sons, because they don’t indicate that the father is actually paying attention. Only specific compliments really express affirmation, because they show that you were actually watching and evaluating what your son was doing. Specific praise (saying things like “When you listened to that old man from our church tell you a story about when he was young, I was very proud of you!” or “That was very Jesus-esque when you helped your mom clean up the kitchen tonight!” or “I was so pleased to see you immediately go over and console your goalie after the other team scored the winning goal — that showed great other-centeredness!”) shows that you were paying attention to your son’s behavior — which is what we all want — for our father to see what we’re doing, and be glad. John Ortberg says the 3 big factors in selling real estate are “Location, location, location!” and the 3 big factors in relationships are “Observation, observation, observation!” I have found that good fathers are observant and expressive — 2 things I can be if I am willing to pay the price!

    • Jon, I really appreciate you adding your insight to this post. I agree completely that fathers need to affirm, but even more they need to be specific in their affirmations.

      Let’s pray that between this post and these great comments, we will encourage fathers to consider and do what they haven’t done yet!

  • Bobby Suba

    Robert Lewis says there are three things every son needs to hear from their father: “I love you. I’m proud of you. You are good at…” I agree with Jon below. A boy needs to know his father is paying attention.

    • Hey Bobby, this is great insight from Robert Lewis and a great addition to this post. Thanks for taking the time to read and add this!

  • FatherVision

    I appreciate the fundamental point that is discussed here. I think affirmation from a father is huge. I go out of my way to affirm my kids as often as I can. I also agree with the other comments here that affirmation should be very specific and based on careful observation. Personally, I never say “good boy” to my kids. Here’s why…
    http://www.fathervision.com/our-family-repented/

    • Adam, thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts. I can appreciate your point of view from your article. I think it’s important to note that saying “good boy or girl” was not the main context of this post. My goal is to get fathers to understand the need to affirm their children and, in this case, young boys. This can be done in multiple ways and with multiple sayings based off what they know and what they have learned.

      Thanks for adding your article as I feel that is the next step to take beyond this one.

  • Dave

    I would say it is even more important for a husband to hear this from his wife.

    • I would agree with you Dave. I would say a family unit is operating at its strongest when each member of the family is encouraging and affirming each other.

  • Excellent article! This is something I need to do more of. I certainly feel the need for respect and affirmation. It seems like I often going about my day “thinking” rather than “saying” the things that people need to know I am feeling. Thanks for this encouraging post!!

    • Definitely brother. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

  • Steve Miller

    Great article. As a father of two young sons (6 and 11) I can confirm that affirmation is not a method that we just need to hope works. I have watched my affirmations change both of my sons as they grow. If done correctly one can see the benefits in real time. For example….My 11 year old consistently explains in detail to his younger brother why we need to support and encourage each other and why we need to spend more time searching for our similarities as opposed to our differences. They are both now reminding us as parents. Part of affirming is not only specific praise and recognition but also productive conversations about the affirmations and explaining why we affirm. Without a true understanding of the reasoning behind affirming…..even when specific…..there can be a loss of impact. When our sons reached a level of comprehension and connected the dots they not only appreciated it more but they understood the motive and benefits. They are already telling us about how they are going to raise their sons. Working towards this level of relationship with my sons has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I have written and published books, I have achieved career objectives higher than I had ever dreamed and I have overcome many obstacles in my life but nothing compares to the reward of seeing your children mature in a happy, positive and mindful way.

    • Steve, thank you for sharing your great insight and experience in this area of fatherhood. These thoughts would make for a great part 2 of this post. I’m definitely going to review these ideas again and make sure my I am applying them to the relationship with my son.