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Words have serious power. There is a saying that goes something along the lines of, “The words you speak to your kids now, become their inner dialogue later. Choose your words carefully.” Honestly, this could not be more true.

When we speak, whether it is predominantly empowering phrases or predominantly negative phrases, we are filling our kid’s brains with words that will repeat in their minds forever. When you think about it, it’s true. I constantly am reminded of the good and bad things that were spoken to me when I was growing up. With that being said, fathers have an immense influence over their sons. So, their words are especially important. Even when you aren’t speaking directly to your child, they are listening.

Here are 8 things boys need to hear their fathers say at home.

1. Kind words to their partner.

The relationship your child observes you in will set the stage for your children’s future relationships. If you are unkind to their mother, it will haunt them forever. Even worse, they may treat their future partner the same way.

2. “I’m sorry.”

It’s not easy to admit you are wrong, but it is important, especially if you are a father. At the end of the day, your kids need to understand what taking responsibility means. Sometimes, that will include you taking responsibility for your wrongs.

3. “I feel ______ and that is why I seem ____.”

Once upon a time, men did not freely express their emotions, but look at where that has gotten us. We have emotions and there is no way of getting around that. So, no good comes from bottling those emotions to avoid looking weak. It makes you a stronger person to communicate your feelings, and your sons need to see you do that.

4. Words that show empathy.

Empathy is modeled, not just taught through lectures. This means that for your kids to learn empathy, they need to see you and hear you showing empathy.

5. Descriptions of how things work.

Children learn by being talked to mechanistically. Mechanistic language is a language that is used to explain how things work so that learning can take place. Instead of answering your son’s question “How does the light switch work?” by saying, “You flip it on to turn it on,” you would say, “When you flip the switch up, it opens the circuit and allows electricity to flow to the light.”

6. Words that speak volumes about values.

What are your family values? You might assume your kids just ‘know,’ but they need you to confirm. Have frequent talks about what is important to you and your family.

7. Admissions of failure.

We all fail from time to time, and that is okay. One day your kid will fail too, and they need to know how to fail and be okay with it. One major component to doing this is by allowing your child to see you fail and figure out how to bounce back.

8. Requests for help.

Everyone needs help. Instead of pretending to be a macho dad, be okay with being vulnerable and asking for help. That way one day, your child will be okay with asking for help too.