The Parenting Secret Every Dad Needs to Know

All children are born with a powerful desire to please their fathers… they want to make him happy. But this natural-born desire can be lost if fathers are not careful with how they lead their children.

This is why God gives the admonition in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…”

The reason we need the caution is clear. Dads are naturally in positions of authority. They are physically bigger and stronger than their children. They have superior intellect over their children. They are the pack-leaders of the home.

While these are not bad in themselves, the slightest lapse can result in a misuse, or even abuse of their position.

Provocation takes many forms: saying one thing and doing another, always criticizing and never praising, being inconsistent or unfair, having unrealistic expectations, not admitting mistakes, ridiculing, being sarcastic or cutting with words, being rigid or harsh.

If it happens consistently, children will begin to resent their father’s leadership and resentment always leads to rebellion. Provoking to anger numbs a child’s natural affection for their father. A father loses his children’s “want to” motivation. His son or daughter’s natural inclination to please their dad crumbles and the most powerful motive for obedience, the desire to please, is gone.

We’ve all been in relationships with a coach or a teacher or a supervisor where we actually wanted to make them happy. One fact is clear, “Want to” is always a better motivator than “have to.” “Have to” motivation is shallow and vulnerable. “Want to” motivation is deep and strong.

Because of this, fathers should do everything within their power to lead their children in a way that keeps them in a “want to” relationship and away from a “have to” relationship. There may be a point where it’s appropriate to pull out the dad card and say, “Because I’m your father,” but that shouldn’t be our default setting.

So fathers, God has placed you in a vitally important position. Your children desperately want to make you happy and proud, be careful not to lead them in a way that would jeopardize that motivation.

How have you seen this in your own family, either as a parent or a child?