Why do children tend to give mom a harder time than they give dad? Is it dad’s deeper voice or his physically larger frame? Does the promise of safety, security, and unconditional love biologically hardwired between mom and child somehow blur the lines between empathy and discipline, between tolerance and intolerance? Whatever it is, whether consciously or unconsciously, children are typically more respectful and obedient with their father than they are with their mother.
Encourage Good Habits & Discourage Bad Habits
Address back talk, disobedience, and inappropriate tone-of-voice; there are no excuses for any of those behaviors. Have age-appropriate conversations about respect, especially how to use manners, proper tone, and short, simple responses. Young children should consistently say, “Please” and “Thank you.” Foster and reinforce good habits while cautioning them against and protecting them from bad habits.
A Father’s Influence
Fathers have profound influence on our children; they’re always watching us, absorbing everything they see. On a deeply elemental level, kids understand dad’s energy towards mom; they internalize tenderness or harshness, calmness or volatility, respect or disrespect. For better or worse, children tend to imitate the attitudes, words, and behaviors they witness from their father. One of our most important paternal duties is to instill in our children that disrespectful or disobedient attitudes, words, or behaviors—towards mom or anyone else—are completely unacceptable.
Don’t Yell & Scream (Especially in Front of the Children)
When parents yell and scream at each other, young children may not fully understand what is happening—they just see the two most important people in their lives at each other’s throats. As primary caregivers, mom and dad are the most influential forces in our kids’ lives; demonstrations of aggressively argumentative behaviors convey that these actions are normal and appropriate. If mom is baiting us into an argument, exercise the self-discipline to respectfully (and subtly) say, “Let’s not fight in front of the kids, let’s pick this conversation back up when we have more privacy.”
Show Mom Gratitude (Especially in Front of the Children)
Too often, mom does so much that is taken for granted. Specifically thank her for all that she does, and make sure the children notice. Do the little things: wash her car, make her breakfast in bed, write her a poem and post it on the refrigerator. In the long-run, these little things are often the biggest things of all. Remember, even if we are no longer romantically involved with their mom, we are partners in raising the children; show her honor and gratitude always.
The Fifth Commandment
From the moment we start life on Earth, we are guarded by the most powerful of all the angels—our mother. If so fortunate to still have their mom, children are obligated to show her the honor that she deserves. In Exodus 20:12, the Bible says, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Discuss Parenting Strategies with Mom
It takes two parents to properly raise a child. No parent is perfect. We have meetings at work to ensure that as individuals, our organization is working together as a team towards our collective mission. Why shouldn’t mom and dad get together periodically to help each other, whether that’s listening to a particular challenge or collaborating respectfully to shed light on each other’s blind spots?
Reflect on this anonymous note from a mother to her child; share it with the kids to remind them of her unconditional love, and more subtly, their responsibility to reciprocate mom’s love with respect, “I gave birth to you, but you came with no instructions. All I knew was that I loved you long before I ever saw you. You are my child, my life, my dreams for tomorrow. I will always love you and there is nothing that could ever destroy my love for you. I know I make mistakes and for that I am sorry, I do the best I can with what I know. Everything I do for you, I do from love.”
“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
—Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT
The secret to parenting success is out! Children need love, parents need respect. It’s as simple and complex as that.
Whether you’re expecting your first or already a grandparent, The Daily Dad offers encouragement, perspective, and practical advice for every stage of your child’s life.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.