I was working as an assistant coach for a high school football team and before each season the coach would have a senior retreat. It was an opportunity for the seniors to get on the same page. My favorite part of the night was when each senior was given the chance to speak and share about their lives. One of the most shocking moments occurred when a star player stood and told a story about his dad. He couldn’t hold back the tears as he revealed his father’s words to him, “You are an amazing disappointment to me.” The pain of those words ran deep.
Words hurt. Never underestimate the power of a few well-chosen, or careless, words. This is especially true of a dad’s words to his children. Here are 5 things you should never say to your child.
1. “I don’t believe in you.”
The simple fact of knowing that dad believes in them gives your kids strength, courage, motivation, tenacity, and more. Take that belief away and the damage will be huge.
2. “You’re such a disappointment.”
Our kids can mess up, and they will. But if we want our children to learn from their mistakes, it’s the mess we address and how it can be fixed. We need to separate the child – who is not a failure – from the mess. The label of “failure” is a heavy load to carry, and most kids won’t hold up.
3. “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?”
Comparisons are a waste of time; they’re hurtful and they serve no positive purpose. Each child is an individual and their calling is to live into the possibilities that go with who God created them to be.
4. Anything negative about your spouse.
Every dad who talks about his spouse with 100% respect ends up being respected more himself.Whether divorced, happily married, or struggling, never complain about your spouse to your kids. Never, ever. Every dad we know who went down that road has had a bad experience. Every dad who talks about his spouse with 100% respect ends up being respected more himself.
Just as solitary confinement is one of the most difficult punishments to endure, being squeezed out or ignored by a parent can be damaging to your child. Talk with your child. Open dialogue means the relationship is going somewhere.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have I ever said anything that hurt your feelings?”