Which is more Fatherly? Parenting So They Like You or Giving Them What They Need

I’ve written before that I‘ve always been a little more of a pushover than someone who stands up for what they believe. At least this has been true up until my mid-thirties.

I’ve recently heard hindsight as described as 10K rather than 20/20 vision, and I am feeling like that is true. I can now see the value in being able to stand up for my views, saying no and not always making decisions on whether I think I’ll be liked or not.

So keeping this hindsight in mind, what position do you think I should father from? The position of wanting to be liked by my son or the position of doing what is best (however you define best).


Recently, my four-year old and I pulled up to a soft serve ice-cream stand. I ran in to grab three treats, so the they could be shared by my son, myself and my wife. My son proceeded to whine and cry about wanting to get out and eat at the picnic table.

This was a beautiful day outside. The type of day in Minnesota that should not be ignored. However, bedtime routine was approaching, and I wanted to include my wife, who was stuck at home with the infant, on this occasion. I wavered, and there was a part of me that felt it would just be easier to eat outside than to put up with the whining and crying.

And then he resorts to, “You’re a boring daddy.” How can this three foot tall pre-schooler drive an arrow through the very goal of my fatherhood? By pushing this very button. I fear being a boring daddy. The growing culture of disrespect is discussed well in this Fatherly.com blog post from July 14.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t give in. I came close but held strong. Which is what I find I have to do when I am doing something that is worth teaching or something I feel is in their best interest. I need God’s help in this because I want to please my son.

God always hasn’t given in when I’ve thrown my tantrums. My world slowly got smaller and smaller until there wasn’t much remaining for God to take away. And then I came around.

Stay strong, guide children the best you can and they will respect you for it. (This is me talking to myself, so I can continue to not give in.)

I recently had coffee with a new friend. He told me about his upbringing as an immigrant family in Chicago during the 80’s. They experienced many challenges and didn’t have much. He told me how his father would assign book reports to him and his sisters. Yes, book reports, outside of school assignments, from a father who didn’t even know English very well.

My friend told me how he hated his dad for this. But knowing my friend in his late 30’s. Knowing how sharp, intelligent and successful he is. I can see this paid off. (I also picked up that his sister is a successful doctor making a quarter million a year.)

All money aside, look at the impact this father had on his kids. He wasn’t liked for it, but the lesson he taught in valuing education spread through to his children.

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