It’s often said that we live in an age where we have so many modes of communication, yet we communicate so little. If you’re anything like me as I get older, it’s harder and harder to discipline myself in the area of communication-especially if it happens to be a hand written note.
I remember being at a particular relatives house not too long ago and my wife and I chuckled as we were sitting at the table talking while our older relatives were both on their Ipads not talking. It was if roles had reversed there for a second with my wife and I at least 20 years younger in age. The struggle to communicate properly seems to be getting more difficult with technology rather than easier.
Many times we get caught up in life and forget those things that matter. We may think to ourselves that our kids are fine without a nurturing relationship, but there’s a special place for each parent in that communication that only a parent can fill. For instance, research shows that just talking with your child about school can have a significant effect on their overall accomplishment in school *. Certainly the principle would apply in other areas of life as well.
Communication is the connection between our experiences, our emotions and is one of the greatest ways to grow any relationship. I think we all would be hard pressed to find a child that doesn’t like being communicated to in a positive way.
My goal today is not to give you an exhaustive list of ways to communicate to your kids, but simple ways in which you can ACT TODAY! The important thing is to just get started. A simple handwritten note, an email or text can make all the difference in a child’s life.
As fathers, we should be looking for any occasion to tell our children that we love them, are proud of them and that we accept them. Many adults can testify to the gap in their own lives from not hearing these simple phrases when they were children. So, where do you get started?
Letters every father should write:
“I’m proud of you” Telling your child that you’re proud of them is important to building their confidence. This is a legitimate form of praise that encourages a child to take healthy risks, pursue who they are and find their way. Saying you’re proud of your child may be one of the most important things you’ll ever say.
“You’re good at…” Every child needs to find their path as they navigate through life. There’s plenty of distractions and peer pressure to fit into a mold, but a father’s “you’re good at ‘X’…” will help guide the child towards their natural passion. Helping a child narrow down their focus of what they’re good at and love will save them from making poor choices that go against who they really are.
“I love you” Love is certainly one of the deepest emotions that every child needs to hear. Saying this heartfelt phrase will help a child feel secure and often times prevent them from finding poor substitutes that are readily available and sometimes even harmful. If you’re not the type that express your love through words then it’s time to change. There’s no substitute for saying it and you’re kids won’t believe you when you say “but they know I love them even though I never tell them.”
“Just in case something happens to me” Just in case something happens to you; you want each of your children to know exactly how you feel. Even if you’ve told them, they could forget or those memories could fade over time. Writing your feelings down for them and sealing them in a letter will help the memory of your love and care last long after you’re gone. You could even video yourself telling them how you feel; the important thing is to get it done. Don’t take for granted how powerful a simple gesture this could be that could carry them years into their adult life.
“I accept you just the way you are” Every child is different and they might be much different than you. A child may even naturally rub you the wrong way, but they need to feel that how God made them is exactly how you accept them. This doesn’t mean that you won’t help them improve, but you accept their personality, their gifts, talents and even their shortcomings. It’s that unconditional love that says I love you just the way you are instead of becoming who I want you to be.
“Learn from me…” Often times you read in the bible of a father giving instruction to his son. It’s what we do; we pass down the life skills and lessons so they can have a fruitful life. We try to help them avoid some of the pitfalls that we did and lead them to adventurous, exciting life. Take the time as you learn from God’s word to pass that down to them. Don’t believe that they’ll learn it all from church or school-you must do your part as well.
Occasions to communicate with your kids:
- At bedtime.
- When your child wakes up.
- When they overcame a fear, a big obstacle or reach a milestone.
- After graduation: at school, into another season in their life, or in a project.
- When there’s a special mission or spiritual truth you would like to convey.
- When they’ve had a trauma or a setback.
- When you’ve identified their love language.
- When you have a chance to show them unconditional love.
- As a random act of kindness.
- When you’ll be away or coming back from traveling.
- When they’re about to start something new: like a new grade in school, going away to camp, start a new class, etc.
- When they’ve worked hard towards an accomplishment or goal.
- When they’ve portrayed great values or character.
- After they’ve made an important decision in their life, emotionally, physically or spiritually.
- After they’ve learned an important lesson in life.
Ways to communicate with your kids:
- “Pillow Talk:” Sow a pocket on their pillow case and place notes in there before bed. My kids still love to get these and often ask if I had put a note in their pillow case before lying down.
- “Bite-Size Encouragements:” With the dawn of scrapbooking, there’s so many cool 3d stickers of food. Whether you find a TV dinner tray, a cookie sticker or one of a sandwich, use those stickers to decorate a little note to stick in their lunchbox
- “Special Delivery:” You can buy a little mailbox off of Amazon (link below) for those special deliveries or special assignments. Kids will look for the flag to be up because everyone loves receiving mail! Little Red Mailbox from Amazon
- “Wax Sealed Letter:” Use these wax sealed letters for special occasions or milestones. I actually wrote a letter to each of my children just in case anything happened to me and I sealed it with a ship insignia. I let them know how proud I was of them, how much I love them and accept them. That way if anything ever happens unexpectedly, they always have that momento from dad. For a seal you can use the first letter of your last name, a favorite animal or just a symbol that means something to the family.
- “Special Mission:” This can be a top-secret mission or a special assignment that suited for each child. It can be the concentration on a specific spiritual value or principle, or just a charge to “focus on this…” or “try to get better at this today…”
- “Lost at Sea:” This one can be a lot of fun to make and the kids will enjoy it too. Everyone has seen the note in the mysterious bottle floating in the sea, and you can recreate this experience for your kids. I usually will place one of these in their bathtub prior to them jumping in and of course I either have a treasure map inside or a special note.
- “Electronic Cards:” USB’s are so inexpensive now a days and if you’re not inclined to make your own cards, just record yourself and place it where your child will find it. Even at a toddler age, kids can learn to operate a USB properly to load up a video of you talking.
- “Sunrise Moments:” Do you have a devotional that you’d like to share with your kids? Break it down and make it simple for them to understand, but be creative. Writing out a simple verse on some cool decorative paper can go a long way.
- “Postcard:” Do you travel for work a lot or happen to be at the office a little more than usual? How about sending a postcard from work wherever you are and let your kids know that you’re thinking about them.
These are just a few ideas that you can start working on today! If you’d like to see some more ideas, make sure and check out my Youtube video of Youtube Letters to Your Kids Part 1 . Let me know some of your creative ideas as well and please comment about the ideas you’ve seen today.
REMEMBER, JUST GET STARTED!
* National Parent Teacher Association http://www.pta.org/programs/content.cfm?ItemNumber=1761&RDtoken=4247&userID=