Fearful fathers, angry children

Posted on · Posted in Parenting, Worldview

It is a challenge to lovingly confront a child who is set on going his own way.  It is easier to just ignore the child’s bad behavior. It is also the easy path to become angry and threaten to levy severe consequences or engage in physical intimidation. These approaches do not honor God nor do they bless the child.


When it comes to relationships, men are often intimated and become fearful. Thus, two of the most frustrating of male responses, indifference and anger, stem front the same root cause – fear. ( I will do a follow up post on this connection soon.)


Fathers are you listening? 


God created men to be confident, compassionate leaders. But then man fell. Eve chose to verbally engage the serpent.  Even though he was with her, Adam did not protect his wife. Instead, in fear and self-interest, he watched the most destructive conversation in human history and said nothing (See Genesis 3:6). When Adam took the fruit from Eve, he had already fallen by doubting the word of God and failing to protect his wife.  When confronted with his sin, Adam did what men still do to this day – he passed the buck and blamed his wife. 


Men, our legacy since the fall, without faith in Christ, is to be cowards in relationships. Out of fear, we tend to either ignore our children’s sin or become angry as if we bear no responsibility for their actions. This is where David fell short as a father. 


Imagine two physically striking, proud young men. They both hired 50 men to run ahead of their chariots to announce their arrival. They both believed that they were wronged by their father. Absalom, was angry that David had not punished Amnon for his sin against Tamar. Absalom, did have a legitimate concern. Adonijah, however, was angry because he believed he should have been made King instead of Solomon. Both sons shared something else in common. They had not received loving discipline from their father. David’s pattern with Amnon  continued with Absalom and Adonijah.  His failure with Adonijah is recorded in I Kings 1:6: 


Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?”  NLT


David was not daunted by the lion, the wolf or the bear, or even by the giant, Goliath. But David, the brave warrior, lacked the courage to lovingly confront his sons. They all paid a huge price for this failure. David, like is first father Adam, cowered and failed to protect those whom he loved.

Being angry doesn’t help, acting as if problems don’t exist doesn’t help.  A fearful  father will encourage rebellion in his children. Loving confrontation requires courage and trust in God. Yes, it is a challenge. Learn from David’s sin with his sons. Follow Paul’s instruction: 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4


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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.