My father never told me he loved me. He never commended me once for anything. However, he did tell me if I I ever made a mistake. That was not uncommon for his generation.
I joined a local sports team when young. My mum said that on one occasion she did go along, people were saying from the sideline "He'll play for NZ one day". I'm not saying that would have transpired, but I must have been good. My dad didn't come to watch me and when mum told him what people were saying or if I told him how a game went, he was disinterested.
When I brought home anything I made at school I would show him. He would look it over, point out any mistakes he could find, and hand it back. I would stand there with my head down and mum would ask that he say something nice and he would say "Very nice" in an insincere way. I came to believe I was hopeless and any commendation I got was to make me feel better, not because I was any good.
Despite that we always had food, clothing and a roof over our head. I always got on with my dad otherwise, and when my parents got older, I converted the lower floor in my home into a flat where they lived. He got cancer, and was nursed at our home. When the night nurse called us at 2am to say he was going, I went to his bedside and held his hand.
As an adult I gradually came to realise that I did have some talent, and I began to believe in myself. I understood the power of specific commendation and I hand it out freely. It costs nothing - but the effort to observe and a little time taken - to express appreciation. When I see the smile and how it makes others feel, it gives me something back too.
I am sorry that my dad didn't give himself the pleasure of seeing his son glowing after some commendation. He just couldn't do it. He did try harder after he studied the Bible and tried to apply it's loving advice. Once he came home from work and brought me a lovely expensive toy, one that I really wanted. There was no reason or special occasion. I looked up at his face and saw the pleasure he got giving it to me. For the first time I felt loved by him and that feeling was priceless. It was not the toy that was the gift I received that day.
Commendation and interest must be shown.to children by their parents. Children don't need things. They need to feel loved, boys especially by their dads. In the end I came to realise I was.