Father and son hugging
Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted and loved by their family. Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection every day is the best way to let your children know that you love them. (Taken from NFI's 10 Ways to Be a Better Dad).

Hug them, every day if possible.
NFI President Roland Warren grew up without his dad and felt like he didn't really know how to show affections to his kids because it hadn't been modeled for him by his dad. When their son was young, his wife encouraged him to hug him even though it might feel a little different. "Well, you're just going to have to do it because he needs it." It's true—your kids need to physically feel that they are loved by their dad, even if it feels a little strange to you at first. If possible, make sure you hug your children every day.

Say "I love you," every day.
Not every dad is in a situation where he can physically hug his kids every day. But you can say "I love you" every day. If you don't live with your kids, call or text them every day to tell them you love them. And, of course, if you live with your kids, make sure you say this too. It's not enough to demonstrate that you love them by your actions—you have to say it too.

Be creative in how you show affection.
Affection can be shown by more than hugs and “I love you.” Write your child a note telling him or her what you appreciate about most about his or her personality or character. Let your kids gently wrestle with you on the floor. Take your child out to for a special date every month. These things can’t replace hugs and “I love you,” but they can reinforce what you express physically and verbally.

Remember that kids never stop needing affection.
It may become more difficult or awkward to show affection to your kids as they get older, especially in the teen or young adult years. But they still need you to demonstrate that you love them, perhaps even more as they enter more challenging stages of life. Don't be bashful about hugging your teen or young adult or saying "I love you." Even fully grown adults who have their own children need their father's love!

Know why affection is important.
For some children, physical touch is their primary love language. For these kids, daily hugs are especially important. But for every child, physical affection tells them that they are valued and accepted for who they are, that their dad will keep them safe, that their dad is proud of them and approves of them, and that they are loved no matter what.

Find more advice—as well as information on how to connect with other dads—at National Fatherhood Initiative. And check out their advice on The 5 Styles of Discipline.


Get resources for fathers and support for fatherless sons 

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