Family Frameworks

The Most Important Words a Dad Can Say by Matthew Smith


Jun 2016


Being a dad has got to be the best job ever!  I say “job,” because being a dad carries a lot of responsibility.  Raising, leading, mentoring, disciplining and being an example to your kids is an incredible, God-given role that dad’s are entrusted with to grow children into responsible adults.

I have two sons, Caffrey (3 ½ years old) and Canaan (1 ½ years old).  As any parent of boys knows, boys are unbelievably fun and yet incredibly difficult.  From the lump-in-the-throat fear that comes from watching your son do dare-devil stunts off the railing of the upstairs balcony to the incredible feeling that comes from watching your kid mirror everything you do as they shadow their dad and copy your every move, being a dad is awesome!  In the short few years of being a dad, I’ve learned from my own mistakes and successes what to say and what not to say.  Each kid is different, and every dad is different too, but I believe there are three phrases that every great dad needs to say to their kids.

  1. “NO!”  It sounds kind of funny, and you may initially disagree with me, but I am finding that it is incredibly important for me to say “no” to my kids.  I don’t mean to say that I’m a rigid, no-fun tyrant that refuses to let my kids do anything (although if you asked my wife, I bet she would say that I’m a little tougher on our kids than she is).  And while I firmly believe that you have to let boys (and kids in general) be boys and get dirty, and throw rocks, and jump, and run and do stupid things that they can learn from, I also believe that part of being a good dad is being able to say “no” when it is appropriate.  Proverbs 13:24 says, “Those who spare the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”  Spanking is a completely different subject that I won’t get into right now, but saying “no” is in the same category.  A good dad is willing to say “no” when their kid wants to be disrespectful.  A good dad will say “no” when their kid is being rude.  A good dad is willing to say “no” when their kid needs to understand that what they are doing doesn’t honor their parents.  As a dad, I believe I am called to raise (and that includes disciplining my kid by saying “no”) my kids to be respectful, honorable and society-contributing adults, and if it takes me telling them “no” to make that happen, then I am willing to say it.
  1. The second phrase or word that I believe is absolutely important for dads to tell their kids is, “YES!” Every day, multiple times a day, Caffrey will say, “Hey dad!  Want to play with me?”  And after a long day at work, with projects at home to do, with sports to watch on tv, with droopy eyelids because I’m so tired, I try to always say “yes.”  I’ll be honest.  Most of the time I don’t really want to play.  There are only so many ramps you can build to launch toy cars off of or a limited number of make believe stories where Lego firemen can save a plastic figurine from a pretend fire.  It gets BORING!  And when there are so many other things that I would rather do, it is so tempting for me to just brush him off and tell him I’ve got other things to do, but what would that say to him?  That would tell him that he’s not worth my time.  It would tell him that he’s not important in my life.  It would tell him that I don’t have time to be with him and that I can’t be trusted.  Good dads are willing to say “yes,” even when they don’t feel like it.  Good dads are willing to say “yes,” even when they are tired.  Good dads say “yes,” when their kids want to play with them, because just by saying, “yes,” you are saying so much more and are telling your child how much you love them.

Just last week, my wife was away on a work trip, and my boys asked me to play with them outside.  Well, I live in Georgia, and it gets miserably hot in the summer, so I had to get creative.  Instead of telling them “No…It’s too hot outside,” we       decided to go buy water guns and run through the sprinkler.  It was a blast!  I took my GoPro camera with me, and here’s a video of our fun time in the sprinkler.  What if I hadn’t said yes?  Look at what I would have missed!


  1. And lastly, the third phrase that I think is one of the most important phrases that dad’s have to tell their kids is, “I’m proud of you.” This is a phrase that I have heard my entire life from both of my parents as well as my in-laws.  So often, whether I have done something worthy of hearing this phrase, or if my parents have had to find something that they were proud of, this phrase has encouraged me and motivated me to be greater than I am.  When I say this simple phrase to my two boys, I can see how important it is to them as they melt from the pride that their dad has for them.  My pride in them becomes their pride in themselves, and they are pushed to grow into boys that their dad, and Heavenly dad too, can be proud of.  Good dads say “I’m proud of you.”  Good dads will find something that they can be proud of in their children.  Good dads make an effort to show their pride for their kids, and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference!

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Matthew 25:23 where Jesus is speaking in a parable about those that serve God and do everything possible to honor Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  Oh how that makes my heart leap with pride to know that as I honor God by serving Him, that makes Him proud of me!  I know that when I tell my kids how proud of them, their hearts leap with a similar joy to know that their father is beaming with pride.

I am not a perfect dad by any means! I make mistakes, lose my temper, say the wrong thing at the wrong time, miss opportunities and get frustrated.  But, while I’m a still a work in progress, I can’t think of a better job than to be a role model for my kids, showing them how to be a loving, caring human.  Being a dad is the BEST job ever!

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