Boys' Rites of Passage

Our Sons' Futures

3 Simple Ways for Dads to Say I Love You Son

Posted by Thomas on October 17, 2011

Before you continue:

This post has 491 words.

On average, it will take you less than 6 minutes to read.

When my son was younger I had difficulty showing him love. This post shares some of my personal challenges and three ways dads can say “I love you son”.

I was sexually abused as an adolescent boy, although I NEVER processed those words—sexually abused—when living through it. It happened and life moved on.

When my son was born I was filled with hope, pride, and fear. I had no idea the abuse would affect my future relationship with my son. As a small child he was always very affectionate. Even today as a young adult to an extent he is still fairly affectionate.

When he was 6 or 7 years old I remember feeling uncomfortable as he hugged or kissed me—even holding his hand made me uneasy. I pushed him away. In those days, though I loved him, it was hard to show affection toward him.

Something changed. As an infant and toddler I doted over him, he would fall asleep on my chest, showing him love was no problem. Then as he became a kid something was triggered in me when he touched me.

One day my wife recounted her observation of us and pointed out how I reacted to him, pushing him away, telling him not to touch me. Until then I was blind.

I spoke to a family counselor that was a friend of ours. At a later time I had sessions with a psychologist. Both of these encounters helped me face my past abuse and uncover the root of my feelings.

Some dads reading this have not been abused like me, but maybe you still have trouble demonstrating to your son you love him. Today my son and I can openly say “I love you” and hug genuinely to further demonstrate that love.

Here are 3 simple things every dad can do to say/show his son he is loved:

  1. Spend time doing something uniquely fun
    • (when he was 7 or 8 I took my son to the beach to watch the sunrise, he’s 18 now and still remembers that morning)
  2. Volunteer to chaperone on school field trips
    • (you will be the ONLY dad there, and EVERYONE students and teachers alike will think it is wonderful that you came—but your son will be on cloud nine for days)
  3. Give your son written notes of encouragement and love
    • (as my son got older I would write on Post It notes short phrases to express my love and pride in him–then leave them stuck to the mirror in his bathroom or on his room door)

We all have baggage we bring into fatherhood. If you’ve experienced abuse, get help, because without realizing it your relationships will suffer. Or maybe you just aren’t a verbal guy. Either way these 3 simple tips will go a long way in nurturing the father-son relationship. Giving love is a huge part of any successful rites of passage program. 

Peace,

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