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Use your words.

It’s a parenting phrase I use with my daughter when she’s been hurt physically and she’s crying breathlessly and I didn’t see what happened. I don’t know if she’s lost a finger, sliced open her foot, or merely gotten a splinter. I so desperately want to help, to fix, that I want her to use the tools a newborn doesn’t possess and, like a nine year-old should, use her words.

A couple of days ago, I was watching a sports network (a lesser known one) and a commercial for fishing gear came on. I’ll let you watch it…

I sat in front of my TV in complete disbelief. This was my childhood they were portraying. A dad unwilling (not incapable, unwilling) to express his love for me by using his words.

Just like it was alluded to in the commercial, my dad occasionally verbalized it. The few times he did, my dad used a similar phrase:

“You know I love you, right?”

But here’s a company in the 21st century romanticizing moments to not say it.

Encouraging silence.

It’s like the ad agency and the Zebco marketing reps stepped out of a 1960s Mad Men episode. I googled the ad and it’s entitled, “Unspoken” and it’s been airing since 2013! That’s how in love the company is with the commercial.

A dubiously attributed quote to St. Francis of Assisi states, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

First of all, words are always needed to share good news. The intended meaning is that people’s actions don’t always match their words. OK, then say that. But when talking about a dad expressing his love for a little boy, don’t reinforce a stupid and destructive stereotype that says, “If you love your boy, take him fishing. He’ll know that you love him.”

Building a house of grace means using your words. It means declaring your love for your loved ones. This goes for moms and dads alike, showing love and grace to your kids means using all five senses including hearing. Because of stereotypes like the Zebco commercial, men have been given permission to stay in emotional infancy.

Dads, don’t act like a newborn with an empty communication toolbox.

Show some grace to your kids.

Use your words.

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