Words that Change Children’s Lives

What would cause a woman to say she loved someone she has barely met? The answer comes from the sister of one of our staff members.

Trish doesn’t remember her grandfather Clinton at all, but she says to this day she loves the man.

Not long before he passed away, when Trish was very young, she and her mother were visiting her grandfather, who had suffered several heart attacks and was not doing well. As the story goes, Trish’s grandmother set her on her grandfather’s lap and left the room for a few minutes. Clinton set her down on the floor, then got down on his hands and knees to crawl along with her and watch what she was doing.

When Grandma came back in the room, she scolded Clinton. He wasn’t supposed to be out of his chair, much less crawling around on the floor. But Clinton looked up right where he was and said, “Aw, Babe, isn’t she the sweetest thing you ever did see?”

Trish wrote, “My grandma loved telling me that story and I loved hearing it. Now, I’ve had a lot of love expressed to me over the years by a lot of different people, but for some reason whenever I felt down on myself or doubted myself in some way while growing up, my grandpa’s comment always came to mind. How wonderful it was to know there was someone out there who thought I was the sweetest thing he ever saw!” There was something special, almost magical about her grandfather’s statement.

What a great example of the power of words in the life of a child! What we need to realize—and act upon—is the fact that we all have that power. Though it may sometimes seem like our children are barely listening to what we say, there’s so much potential for good in our words.

We’d be wise to speak words of blessing and admiration to our children intentionally and as often as we can—spreading them like seeds that we want to grow anywhere and everywhere. We never know which ones will sprout and grow and have lasting meaning in a child’s life, so we have to make sure we spread lots of affirmation “seeds.”


  • Whenever a positive thought about your child enters your mind, tell him or her. (Or write yourself a note to remind you to do it later.)
  • Be intentional about making an affirming physical connection with your child at least once a day—a hug, pat on the back, tousle of the hair, enthusiastic high-five, etc.
  • Be willing to get down on your hands and knees to get closer and learn more about what your child is doing—whether she is an infant or a teenager.
  • Affirm your child by being generous with your time—doing things he will consider special (but that don’t have to cost a lot).
  • Take your children to spend time with their grandparents—often.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.