Why African Dads Don’t Say I Love You

african dads

African dads are special people. They are 50% reasons why we exist on this earth for most. The reason we are who we are now. However, I have noted for years on social media that Africans are united in chanting one song. That our dads or parents rarely utter the words “I love you”.

Many people lament that they have never seen their father be affectionate with them. We tend to see our dads as a wall; emotionless, well that’s until they decide to flog you.

As we continue with the second week of the Afrobloggers WinterABC festival sharing Stories of Africa. I decided to ask dads why they do not say I love you. Here’s what they said…

7 African Dads Share Why They Don’t Say I Love You

One thing to note is that these are just 8 dads sharing their thoughts. The sample size is too small to generalize, but it gives us a needed clue to understanding how they think.

african dads

Thoughts from African Dads


Easy question, easy answer. I have never heard my dad tell me he loves me, I have never cared to hear it. Why then would I tell my kids that? And for what reason? If I never cared for it, I expect my kids not to care for it either. There are other things that are so important than being told such.


I concur with Scott. It really borders down to what we were shown when we were kids. My father never told me those words, I never tell my kids as well. This is because I see no significance in having to tell them. But, I will say, anyone that has had the pleasure of being told they are loved by their father should know they are lucky. That does not mean I would tell my kids though.


That is the problem with kids of now. You people are too sentimental. Enlighten me on how this is beneficial to a child. The problem is, you guys watch so many movies, then take too much of the western culture. Do you know how much of a waste of time it is to tell all your six kids that you love them?

I’ll tell you what. White people find it easier because they only have one or two kids to deal with. In our continent, we believe in large families, that’s until now. However, imagine a man in Nigeria with fifteen kids having to tell them all that he loves them. It is impractical.

If I go out, make money, and provide for them, they should know that I love them. That’s it!


Of course, I do. Every phone call with my kids ends with me telling them that I love them. They often laugh it off, but deep down, I know they understand that I truly do.

I realized that I needed to be very open with my kids if I wanted them to be my friends. See, I tell my kids the darndest things, they do not find it weird, they actually enjoy it. That is because I opened myself up to them, and I allowed myself to be vulnerable with them.

It is also easy for them to understand my standpoint when I am strict, they do not fear me, and they know I want something done right. The issue I have with other parents not being as open is that we excuse the necessity of emotional intelligence. We are negligent on that part.

If I raise a bright child with low emotional intelligence, then is that child bright at all? I do not think so!

cont’: Thoughts from African Dads


Am I not providing for them? Are they not being fed or educated? Then why should I waste my time telling them I love them? They know it in their hearts that I do. That is why we have the saying that “Actions speak louder than words”. My actions should speak for me without my mouth having to open.


I have never told them, but my wife speaks on my behalf. When the kids have done some trouble and I choose not to punish them, she often tells them that it is because I love them too much. I guess I have never seen it as important to utter words. I just expect them to know that I am one person who will always love them unconditionally.


I think this is due to two reasons. The first one is because we never heard our parents tell us at all. As a matter of fact, some of our dads never really cared about our daily runnings. Some never even knew what class we were in and what year. That was what was normal for us.

Secondly, there was the issue of the number of children in the family and the favorite child. Every family has a favorite child. Without the dad even saying he loves them more than the rest, we all just knew it.

Now, us being dads means modeling what our fathers were like to our own kids. Regardless of how toxic it can be, that is the normalcy we grew around. It is what we know, and it is hard to change our status quo to become more affectionate with our children. Funny enough, some do not even tell their wives that they are loved. They just have to know it.

Mr. Mchizi:

I am very open with my children, along with my affection towards them. Doing this has helped my children be at ease with me, they hear from the horses’ mouths the matters around. Now that my children are old, they too are open and friendly with me. That was my wish as a parent, to make sure I can be friends with my children.

The only line I draw is creating a friendship with my daughters-in-law. I love them, but I put them at arm’s length. This is because I realized that one reason parents have a say in the matters of their child’s marriage is how close they become with their inlaws. I never want to find myself telling my kids that their woman is not right for them.

If they sought them, then they are right. But, you must know that with a lot of African dads, it depends on their own experiences with their dads and their culture. If one grew up with an affectionate parent, and they too decide to be the same, then it means they loved it like that.

For some of us, we wanted to do better with our kids. I can only pray I did.

I will leave you to digest. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  1. I can still clearly remember the first time my Pops told me he loves me, I was 23 had had just came back home after 2 years away. I honestly did not know how to reply or what to say in the moment. Not that I didn’t know that pops love me -I knew, but he had never said it out loud before. It felt really weird and I thought to myself ” what the heck, Pops didn’t give me the memo that we can now express our feelings in this house”. Above all it felt good and I appreciated it, actions don’t always speak louder, sometimes we need to hear the words too and yes I will tell my kids I love them one day Insha’Allah

  2. I guess it’s true that, if your parents make certain sacrifices it’s clear they love you. There’s no room for affection, I hope that changes.

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