Acceptance speaks to our unconditional and unending embrace of our children no matter what they do, how they fail, what they choose to value or believe or pursue, or with whom they associate. Yes, that includes their choices of friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, and later even their marriage partners. Yes, that means accepting them even if their beliefs or values differ from ours or if they choose different political affiliations or even, perhaps sexual practices—you name it. Unconditional and unending acceptance means accepting our children no matter what, even if we disagree with or disapprove of something they do, say, believe, or practice. It’s a tricky distinction—one many dads fail to make to our own detriment and certainly to our children’s. Our unconditional and unending acceptance communicates to our children that they belong. It helps them know and feel that they are ours, we want them, and we will never, ever turn them away.
Why are affirmation, acceptance, and affection such powerful experiences between a father and his children—or in some cases, between a father figure and a younger man or woman who never received these from his or her own dad? Because affirmation, acceptance, and affection go to the core of character formation and the establishment of healthy self-esteem. These three crucial fathering skills give to a child a gift that will last their lifetime. These three fathering practices define what it means practically for a dad to love his children. Here’s how you can express your love powerfully and meaningfully.
When children miss these experiences from a loving father, they suffer a wounding that can be deep and long lasting. This wound cries out for healing—a healing that can be experienced when a father or father figure is present and the wounded son or daughter seeks to heal and grow.