5 Sentences Every Father Needs to Hear

by Crystal Kupper,
Crystal’s Cliffnotes
Salem Writer

Reading to Jack back in Idaho


He flopped on the couch and flipped on the TV, exhausted from a long day at work. From his body language, I could tell my husband was even more worn out than usual from all the craziness that goes with putting officers into the Air Force. The NBA Finals were on, and I knew he couldn’t wait to relax with his family for a few hours.But two-year-old Jude, inspired, grabbed his little basketball. “Wanna play basketball outside with me, Daddy?”

I wouldn’t have blamed Nick if he had said, “Not now, buddy, but maybe at halftime.” Instead, he briefly closed his eyes, took a deep breath and hopped back up. “Sure,” he smiled at Jude. “Let’s go!” As they jogged away, he glanced back at me. “Go ahead and keep watching.”

Jude may not have understood what just happened. But I did.

I just saw a real father in action.


Meeting Jude for the first time
I know fatherhood isn’t exactly a hot trend at the moment. With one out of three children living in fatherless homes, millions of women are parenting solo. And while I am friends with and admire many single mothers, I am so grateful I’m not one of them. The statistics don’t lie: kids living in fatherless homes experience higher rates of aggressive behavior, incarceration, suicide, teen pregnancy, drug use and other risky behaviors while simultaneously experiencing lower rates of education and steady pay, among other things (check out more fatherlessness stats here).
But beyond cold statistics, I know in my gut that fathers matter. Here’s why: my own dad.
After the father/daughter dance at my wedding
My dad, though excellent, was nowhere near perfect when I was growing up. His high-stress, high-hours, high-intensity job often left him feeling drained and spread too thin, something I couldn’t truly appreciate until I was out of the house. So sometimes his record as a patient, soft-spoken, gentle guy at home was less than stellar.I was his first daughter after two sons, with a different temperament than my older brothers. Those two worlds often collided, leaving me with hurt feelings and hot tears. So my mom gave me an assignment: I was to write down every single thing that I liked about my dad.

At first, my teenage self chafed, but I begrudgingly obeyed and got to work. It was slow-going in the beginning, but then I picked up steam: he provides for us. He comes to all my games and recitals. His boisterous laugh. How everyone in the room turns to him in a crisis, and he comes through. How he grew up poor on a farm in the boonies but still managed to put himself through seven years of college and grad school, eventually becoming a well-respected attorney. His work ethic. How crazy he was and is about my mom. And so on, until that one page became a dozen.

Every time my dad and I didn’t see eye-to-eye, I looked up that list. And my heart, though hurt, softened. Eventually, the entries showed my blooming maturity when I wrote things like, “He’s letting me marry Nickolas Kupper.” Today, here’s what I love about my dad: he’s an even better father to my younger siblings than he was to me. Plus, he’s an awesome, hands-on grandpa!


Wrestling matches at Grandpa Dale’s house can get pretty intense!
Nick has been a dad for more than five years now; my dad nearly 36 (sorry for the reveal, Shane). As a wife and daughter, I’ve seen the value of both men. It’s immeasurable and irreplaceable, really. In other words, I need to do my part to make sure they know their worth.


I’m betting the father of your children and your dad aren’t much different. Try one of these out and see their reaction:
  • I see the sacrifices you make, and I appreciate them. Nick and my dad don’t have the same work ethic, true. Yet both have made deliberate choices in their careers, free time, friendships etc. to enhance their families above themselves. They need to know that those decisions have not gone unnoticed.
Nick and his little lady
  • I respect you. This one can be tough for a woman. After all, if we don’t feel loved, we don’t naturally give respect. And marriage and parenting experts have plenty to say on the subject. But flat-out, feeling respected is not optional for men; it’s necessary.
Nope, it’s not Jack at a vintage portrait studio — it’s my dad!
  • What can I do to help you? So maybe most dads don’t face the exact daily grind as their stay-at-home wives, but that doesn’t mean you (whether as a wife, mother or grandchild) can’t be a blessing. Could you send them an encouraging or funny note/text/e-mail/card from time to time? Bring them their favorite candy bar at work unexpectedly? Find out their prayer needs and offer to cover some of them? Men don’t always ask, but they need help just as much as the rest of us.
  • I love the way you___________.  My dad wasn’t and isn’t a perfect man, and neither is Nick. But they both are fantastic at several things. My dad is one of the smartest guys I know; Nick can fix almost anything; Dad’s still got skills on the court; Nick would look hot in a Hefty sack. But more importantly, they have skills unique to them as fathers. My dad’s protective instincts are legendary; Nick plays a mean game of “Beatup Time” with the boys; kids love it when my dad bounces them on his lap to “How do ladies go?”; Nick is incredibly sensitive to small children’s needs. I used to merely think these things, but now I know better. Now, I make a point to say them out loud. It makes a difference!


Returning from deployment
  • No one can take your place in our child(ren)’s lives. This might be the most important. Society tells us today that dads aren’t that important; that they are all as stupid as every sitcom portrays them to be; that their masculinity is old-fashioned and shameful; that they can be replaced by a celebrity or other cultural icon. But fathers are that important; they have talents and gifts that every society needs desperately; their manliness is a wonderful gift from the Creator; and they can’t be replaced by anyone else. I was raised by a wonderful man and am married to a wonderful man (who also has a great dad, by the way!). I realize that’s a modern rarity, and I’m not going to let it go to waste.

    I love my children so much that I’m going to do everything possible to give them the best chance at life. And that includes loving and supporting both their dad and grandpas… because fathers matter.

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