Reba McEntire’s song, The Greatest Man I Never Knew begins with these words:
The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello but never touched at all
He was in his paper, I was in my room
How was I to know he thought I hung the moon
Because the father in this song never touched his daughter in an affectionate way, she never knew he loved her. How was she to know?
We communicate our love when we touch and hold our kids. This is not just something daughters require; sons also crave a dad’s physical affection. Boys tend to need sustained physical contact with their fathers that can be shown through play and affection; girls seem to require physical touch and affection.
Author Neil Chethik surveyed 300 men and interviewed in-depth another 70, all of whom had lost their fathers to death. In his book FatherLoss: How Sons of all Ages Come to Terms with the Death of Their Fathers he shares this potent statement about sons who did not get affection from their fathers. Many women report the same effect. Chethik writes,
“When a son doesn’t get affection, in any form, from his father, the resulting wound can be deep and lasting. Second only to the abuser in generating resentment among the sons I interviewed was the faraway father the distant dad, the patriarch who was unavailable or uninvolved. Whether the father meant it or not, the message to the son was clear: You don’t matter.”
We can show our affection through tender, loving words (written and spoken), and through the way we playfully and lovingly touch our kids.
Great Dads Shape Great Kids. Be a great, affectionate dad this week.
To read more from Keith, take a look at his book: