Throughout my parenting career, Kailyn and I have had several talks about life, love and happiness. Here are 10 Things I Tell Kailyn that will hopefully serve as "thought-starters". This isn't a list of "THINGS YOU SHOULD TELL YOUR KIDS", because I think those lists I've found online take on the "one shoe fits all" mindset. Every family is different as is every child and relationship. Here are some things I say to my K that I'd like to share with you.
The original title of this blog was going to be “10 Things Dads Should Tell Their Daughters”, but I don’t want this blog to be simply a list of things that “I” think “YOU” should say. My hope is that I could share some of the things I tell Kailyn, and you can formulate your own list. I’ve read a bunch of articles with this blog title and I agree with many of them. But as a parent, you know there’s no playbook, list, or roadmap to what you should say to your kids. I don’t want to preach. I just want to share. 🙂
ONE: I Love You
This is a no brainer. Every parent tells their kids they love them. I may be overconfident in my statement, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s just go with this. If you didn’t love your kids, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. 🙂 This is an important one, so I’ll lead off with it, and go into some depth about why it’s important to me.
It’s important to tell Kailyn I love her, but even more important that I SHOW her the same. Words are just words if they’re not backed up by actions. It’s important to me to show her on multiple fronts. If you’re heard of the “5 Love Languages” they are (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Acts of Service, (3) Receiving Gifts, (4) Quality Time, and (5) Physical Touch. You can learn more about them HERE.
I’m pretty good at hitting on all five of the “Love Languages” with Kailyn although I’m better at a few than others. It’s important to identify which ones your kids value the most. If you’re focusing on once that they don’t interpret as love, then you’re speaking a different language than they are. I just make sure to SAY and SHOW her I love her.
Words of Affirmation
When it comes to this, I’m REALLY good at giving her Words of Affirmation. Many of you are probably in the same boat. I tell Kailyn I love her so many times, I’m not sure she even hears them and I whisper it in her ear in public often. This is because I want her to know I love her wherever I’m at and at all times. I tell her I love her before we go to bed, throughout the day, and in the morning. My favorite thing to do is say it at random times and just see her reaction. The smile I get is the “I know you do Daddy”, and that says it all for me. There’s not a day, minute, or second that goes by that she doesn’t know how much I love her. And THIS is the foundation of my legacy.
My favorite banter with her goes like this:
Me: “I Love you Kailyn”
Kailyn: “I Love you too”
Me: “I Love you More”
Kailyn: “I Love You Mostest”
In this example, sometimes actions don’t speak louder than words. 🙂
Acts of Service
This is the flip side, where actions DO speak louder than words. This is the love language where I go out of my way to do things for Kailyn that show her how much I love her. On her birthday, I make a BIG deal out of her special day. I try and plan special dates for the two of us and spend a lot of time making sure that it’s special. I’m always thinking of special things I can do for her.
Any of you who are friends with me, know I go to far extremes to show her how much I love her using “Acts of Service”. From mani/pedi dates, to dinner dates, to pool parties, I try and do it all.
Some of these Acts of Service include her friends. I value friendships with my friends so much, that I try and foster her relationships with her friends. Planning elaborate, fun, and different interactions with her friends is another way I show her I love her through Acts of Service.
This is probably the love language that I’m most innately prepared for. For me, this is how I tell Kailyn how much I love her.
This is an Act of Love that I probably need to dial back on. Giving her too many gifts has always been a concern for me. Being a single dad, all of my money goes to Kailyn and Me living our lives. It’s important for me to try and provide the best life I can for her, but at the same time try and teach her about living within our means.
I can admit that I lean too heavily on this act of love too often, and I’m sure a lot of you are the same way. It’s the easiest Love Language to fall back on and the one that I feel should be the least focused on.
I don’t want her growing up feeling that PRESENTS = LOVE. They can be taken as a sign of love, but they do not equal love. This is something that too many women I’ve met in my life believe (or act like they believe). I don’t want Kailyn growing up and falling for the first boy who buys her stuff. These gifts should be appreciated, but they’re just one part of the equation.
I love spending time with Kailyn. If you’re part of a custody arrangement where you split time with your ex, then this Love Language is probably up at the top of your list. I think the important thing that needs to be noted about this is that TIME does not always equal QUALITY TIME.
Kids have a canny way of knowing when you’re “phoning it in”. I try to take Kailyn on dates and create situations where we get quality time in. It’s not always possible as a single, working parent, but making a conscious effort to do so makes a difference I think. I tell Kailyn how important our dates are, and she’s grown to look forward to them as much as I do (I think).
Also, there will be a time when she wants to spend quality time with her friends and I’ll have to split my time with them . . . so I’ll savor the moments we have now and take in as many dates as I can, while I can.
As a man, I know that this one may not come innately. I’ve always been a hugger, so showing Kailyn affection physically hasn’t been a problem for me, but it may for you. If there’s ever a reason to be out of your “love comfort zone”, it should be for your kids. As difficult as this one may be, I think it sets the stage for how your child(ren) will grow up.
I spoke in my previous blog titled Words of Wisdom about how important it is for me to give good hugs. Physical touch is important to kids and I’ve never been afraid to show Kailyn how much I love her with a hug and a kiss. Again, there will be a day when she doesn’t want them anymore, so I’ll give them as long as she’ll take them. 🙂
I figure in 9 years, having her half the time, giving her no less than 10 kisses a day, I’ve snuck in over 16,000 . . . far less than the MILLION that I usually claim, but still an amount to be proud of. 🙂
TWO: Treat Others BETTER Than You Expect To Be Treated
This is a hard lesson to teach a 9 year old, but I want it to be instilled in her brain, so as she grows older it becomes part of her innate personality and will be reflected in her actions.
There’s already bullying going on in Kailyn’s school. “Mean Girls” are starting to emerge and I don’t like it. I hear about girls in Kailyn’s class being gossipy and mean, and as upsetting as it is, I am always cognizant to make sure Kailyn isn’t that “mean girl” to someone else.
I always tell Kailyn that she needs to be nice to people who don’t necessarily deserve it. She needs to “kill them with kindness”. I told her that when she’s older and has more perspective on life, she’ll learn that it’s always better to be the “nice girl”.
This is SO hard to explain to a 9 year old. I don’t see her at school and have to rely on her teachers and administrators to tell me how she acts, but so far, I think she’s the “nice girl”. I’ll never stop telling her that she needs to be more empathetic and caring to those who don’t deserve it. I feel like there are a few adults I know who could also take some of this advice. 🙂
THREE: Show Compassion Regardless of Whether Or Not It’s Deserved
Empathy. It’s a word we talk a lot about, but don’t always practice. This is also not an easy topic to discuss with a 9 year old. For this topic, I lead by example. The easiest way I do this is how I act towards her mother. My ex deserves no compassion from me, yet I have built her up to be “Mother of the Year” in her daughter’s eyes. Her mother gets Mother’s Day cards, flower, etc. It’s not easy to do, but it’s important to me that I show empathy.
I see too many human beings who show little to no compassion and that saddens me. I tell Kailyn that the world needs more compassion and so this is something we talk about a lot. Compassion and empathy are emotions that are best shown, so I hope that I’m leading by example for Kailyn.
FOUR: You Can Be ALMOST Anything You Want To Be
When I say “almost” anything you want to be, I think it’s important to inject a little “realism” into my sentence. A lot of parents tell their kids they can be anything they want to be, and that’s just a lie. But within the realm of reality, Kailyn can be almost anything she sets her mind to.
Every week or so she’s got an idea of what she wants to be when she grows up. Sometimes they’re great ideas and sometimes not so much. I take it as my job to not tell her what she should be, but set the stage for her to make an informed, educated decision on her own. That’s the backbone of my parenting style.
Kids are going to make their own decisions and I can’t stop that from happening. But what I can do is arm her with knowledge, fuel her with passion, and give her advice when asked (and sometimes when not asked).
I tell Kailyn that this is the greatest time in history for a woman in the workplace. I’ll certainly foster and celebrate this time for Kailyn and I know she’s going to do great things. She’s got a lot of opportunities available to her if she just goes for them.
One thing I tell her is WHATEVER she wants to be . . . she needs to be the BEST at. Be The Best. There are no participation trophies when it comes to real life.
FIVE: Help Those Who Need Help
Kailyn and I are blessed to have the money and resources to live a comfortable life, but that’s not the case for everyone. We set aside money to donate and give to the less fortunate.
Kailyn loves to give a few dollars to people in need when we see them. She actually gets mad at me when I don’t offer them a few dollars. I had to explain to her how some of them got there and why it’s important that we pay it forward.
We give to the homeless often. I told her when she gets back to Vegas that I’ll match any part of her savings that she wants to use to give socks, food, water, etc. to homeless people. Going on a Saturday afternoon to find those in need is something that I look forward to the most.
Instilling in her the desire to help others is important to me. I tell Kailyn that it’s got to be part of who we are, that we help others in need. It’s part of being a good human being and it needs to be part of her DNA.
SIX: Practice What You Preach
I tell Kailyn that words mean nothing if you don’t back them up with your actions. I feel like a lot of adults forget this message. When she says she’s going to do something, I expect her to do it. In addition, if she wants to be a kind person, then I expect her to do kind things.
Every once in a while we’ll have a conversation about who she wants to be. Not just what she wants to be, but who she wants to be known as. Then we talk about if her actions align with who she wants to be. If they don’t align, then we talk about how to get them to. It’s a great exercise for me to demonstrate how we can get “who we want to be” to match up with “who we really are”.
SEVEN: Kindness Is The Currency That Matters
Like some of the other topics I talked about above, this is a hard one to teach a child. Kailyn, like most kids, is very reactionary to her surroundings. It’s easy to want to be the “cool kid”, and get swept up with the wrong crowd. In theory, kindness is easy, but when put to the test in a group of 9 year old girls, it’s much harder.
I tell Kailyn to tell me about situations that made her uncomfortable and then press her on how she reacted. We then role play how things could have been different if she acted different. I can’t be 100% sure this will make a difference in future situations, but I’m hopeful that talking about these situations will teach her to exhibit the kindness that will make a difference in someone’s life.
We talk about how being kind can change someone’s day, and when she grows up, it can even change someone’s life. Being kind costs nothing, but its value is immeasurable.
EIGHT: You Are Beautiful Inside AND Out
I tell Kailyn how beautiful she is every day. Sometimes I just look at her and can’t believe that she’s mine. This probably isn’t much different for me than it is for you. But I always make sure to try and point out how kind she is at the same time.
In this day and age, I’m aware of the social pressures of trying to be pretty, get the most likes on a post, or have the most followers on social media. I’m not sure I can combat all of those things, but I can instill a baseline confidence in Kailyn. It’s important for me to let her know that she’s beautiful inside and out. You can’t do anything about your looks (or at least a minimal amount), but you can do a lot about how beautiful you are inside.
I always try and praise her for how beautiful of a soul she is. Her kindness, empathy, and love for others is something that point out AND RECOGNIZE so that she realizes how important they are to being a “complete” person.
I’ve always said some of the most beautiful girls I’ve met in my life, were ones who were the most beautiful inside. I hope I can raise a little girl who exemplifies this.
NINE: What You Say Matters
Kids don’t often understand that their words matter. They can make or break someone’s day, so I tell Kailyn the importance of thinking about what she’s saying.
The key to all of these things I’ve been writing about is open communication with your kids. Kailyn and I talk about situations all the time, which give me a life-teaching opportunities.
This lessons is another “lead by example”. I try and live my life knowing that what I say matters, and hopefully she’ll pick up on this. It’s an important trait that carries over to adulthood.
TEN: Only YOU Are Responsible For Your Own Actions
I tell Kailyn that she’s responsible for her own actions. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s picked her own punishment for misbehaving. Most of the time, she picked a much harsher punishment than I would have handed out. She is responsible for what she says, how she acts, and how she treats those around her. I hold her accountable.
I see too many kids AND adults not taking responsibility for their own actions. Everyone else is to blame but themselves. I want to raise a little girl who makes decisions, and takes responsibility for them . . . both good and bad.
Doing My Part
I’ve said that my greatest legacy will be Kailyn. Because of this, I take such pride and responsibility in trying to raise a good human being. As I mentioned above, I don’t want to write a playbook of things I say to Kailyn so that you can say them to your kids. I just hope that maybe one of these things resonates with you and becomes something that’s also important to you.
When I look at some of the youth, what they value, and how they act towards other, I cringe. I just feel like in today’s day and age, it’s more important than ever to be involved in molding our children. Not that it wasn’t important before, but with social media and all of the other influences, it’s even more important now.
I’ve talked about it in almost every blog, but the key for me is “BEING PRESENT”. Just be there. I try and be present when Kailyn is happy, sad, upset, or down. We talk about her feelings, why she’s feeling them and how they are learning experiences. I hope that she’ll always consider me a person to talk to. Although, I know that things are going to change as she moves into her teenage years.
I wish you all luck! It’s not easy and I’m here in the trenches with you. Leave me a comment, send me a message and share this blog if if you think others would enjoy it.
Have a great week!
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