things to tell your dad

10 Things to Tell Your Dad While He Is Still Living

Whatever your relationship is with your father, and whether he was a good dad or not, it’s important to be as reconciled as possible with him before he passes. Whether it’s reaffirming what a wonderful father he was to you growing up or forgiving him for his transgressions, there are things you simply must tell your dad before he dies.

Don’t wait. Don’t think, “I’ll have that conversation when he’s really, really old.” No. If it’s worth sharing, then it’s worth sharing now. Tomorrow is not promised. Here are 10 things to tell your dad while he is still living.

1. “I love you.”

We can think it, feel it, demonstrate it, and talk our way around it. But, bottom line, we need to say the words out loud and we don’t need to wait another day.

2. “Thank you.”

He may not be or have been perfect, but he’s your dad and there are a hundred specific things we can say “thank you” for. Get specific on this one. Take your time. Write it all down.

3. “I’m so proud to be your son.”

Tell your dad why being his son makes you stand a little taller. It may be because of his position in the community. It may be because he was always so good to your mom. It may be because he was “the coolest” dad and it gave you status among your friends. Whatever the reasons, make sure he knows.

4. “This is what I have learned from you.”

“Dad, you taught me patience. You taught me how to work hard. You taught me how to drive. It’s from watching you that I learned how to be a dad myself. Dad, you still teach me how to love my wife. You taught me how to think on my feet. There’s so much I have learned and am learning from you. It’s almost impossible to try to think about it all without being overwhelmed.”

5. “This is your legacy.”

Much of what we’re grateful for, and what we have learned from our dads, becomes your dad’s living legacy. Tell your dad how his standards of integrity still guide you and that, in many ways, his values are alive in your home. Tell him his legacy will live on through his grandchildren, too, because you are committed to all that’s noble and true because of him.

6. “I have my affairs in order.”

Your finances are your personal business—we understand that. But if you want to give your dad a strong dose of reassurance, then tell him you have a will, tell him you have enough life insurance to get your kids through college, tell him you’re taking care of your family and his grandkids the best you can.

7. “We may not always agree, but I respect you to the core of my soul.”

Dads aren’t big on platitudes. The fact is, he’d rather know you disagree with him but respect his views than have you “yes-man” your way through every conversation. But do make sure he knows you think about what he says, even when you’re not on the same page.

8. “I want to know the details of your story. Could we plan some visits where I just ask questions and listen?”

Dad has stories. Let him know you’re interested. You’d be amazed what you don’t know about your dad’s life, especially from when he was young. “Tell me about it, Dad. I really want to know.”

9. “You remember that time you thought I was at my friend’s house for a sleepover?”

No, we’re not suggesting a long list of hurtful confessions. But do tell your dad some of your stories. A lot of teens close their parents out of the details and never get around to sharing later. Then tell him how much he meant to you during those years.

10. “Faith is the cornerstone of my life.”

If you have a personal faith story, then share it with your dad. It’s part of telling the truth about who you are. These are often critically important conversations later in life.

Sound off: What are some other things to tell your dad?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s something special we could do to honor your grandparents?”