Dad Asks His Kids If They Want Him To Stop Saying 'I Love You' After His Own Father Criticizes His Parenting

People applauded him for teaching his emotionally distant father a lesson about parenting, but they weren't too sure about how he went about it.

Dad and kids confronting emotionally distant father Pixabay, ntmw / Getty Images via Canva, OLya_L / Shutterstock

It's an all too common, and often damaging, experience: having an emotionally distant father or mother who finds it difficult to say "I love you." So when one dad's own father criticized him for being too affectionate, he made sure to put him in place. But the way he went about it has left some people criticizing him for taking things too far.

A dad's own emotionally distant father told him he is harming his kids by being too affectionate.

The dad posted to Reddit about his often difficult and unaffectionate relationship with his dad. "With my father everything was yes sir no sir," he writes, and this has led him to take a much softer and more jocular approach to his own kids.


He's nicknamed his 15-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter "Boy" and "Girl" in reference to "The Simpsons," because he "always thought it was funny that Homer referred to Bart as Boy and Bart called him Homer."

"I also constantly tell my kids that I love them and am proud of them," the dad wrote, an approach that seems to have gotten his own dad's goat. He claimed his father is "vociferous about how I'm hurting his grandchildren by not calling them by their names." He repeatedly told his dad that his kids loved their nicknames and the relationship they have with their dad, but he wouldn't drop it. So, he initiated his kids into helping him teach his father a lesson.


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He asked his kids if they wanted him to stop saying 'I love you' and stop using their nicknames, or if they'd rather keep their affectionate relationship.

"I asked them if they wanted to be called by their names instead of Boy and Girl. I said in return they would have to call me Sir not daddy or dad," he says. "I said I would accept Father in emotional conversations. But that I would no longer remind them every day that I loved them and was proud of them."


Unsurprisingly, both of his children said they'd prefer to maintain the affectionate "status quo." His father then got angry and defensive, so he put him on the spot. "I asked him how often he told my sisters and I he loved us or was proud of our accomplishments or just as people." His father responded that "it was a different time" and that his own father had been even worse. 

father asks kids of they want him to stop saying i love you reddit postPhoto: Reddit

"So I asked him if he thought my kids were happier than myself and my sisters were growing up," which made his father even angrier and made him feel like he was saying he was a bad father. The dad was clear that he didn't think so, but that having an emotionally distant father was difficult and damaging. 


He compared his own kids to himself and his sisters — whereas his sisters had to go to therapy to not settle for any man who'd make them feel loved, "my daughter knows her worth and won't settle for anything but the best." And his son "has no problem hugging me and telling me or his mom about his life... My kids know they are loved." His father, however, feels that he's rubbing his face in his fathering mistakes by pointing all of this out.

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Most everyone agreed with the dad's view, but some thought he was wrong to use his own kids to get back at his dad.

Making sure a child knows they are loved by saying "I love you" regularly is incredibly important for a child's development—there's no debate on that, and nearly everyone agreed that the dad was doing a far better job at parenting by working to do better than his father did with him. 

But given the importance of affection and hearing "I love you," some felt that the dad went about this all wrong by, as one commenter put it, "roping" his kids into setting his dad straight. Several worried that his kids might feel slighted by him "using them as props" and "threatening, even in jest," to withhold his love to prove a point.


comment on reddit post about father asking kids if they want him to stop saying i love youPhoto: Reddit

But others thought his bond and relationship with his kids was obviously strong enough for them to understand what their dad was doing by "roping" them into his exercise with his dad — especially given most teens' flair for sarcasm. And they applauded him for finding the perfect way to illustrate to his own father the importance of close parent-child relationships. 

positive reddit comment on post about dad asking kids if they want him to stop saying i love youPhoto: Reddit


He may not have gone about in the best possible way, and it seems like his dad feels more like he's being accused of grave failure — that's not likely to change his mind. But what does seem certain is that this dad is making sure that the dynamics between him and his father don't repeat with his kids, and we should all applaud him for that. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.