Discipline Leadership

Lessons from a Passive Father

This is a true story.

One father stood at the checkout counter with his wife and daughter. He had his card out, ready to pay, but the daughter kept whining for a stuffed animal that was close to the register.

Exasperated after saying “no” several times, the wife grabbed the stuffed animal and had the cashier ring it up. She then took her daughter to the bathroom.

The father had been silent this whole time, but now he spoke up, shaking his head. “That’s a bad idea. Just teaching her to be spoiled.” He looked around for some sympathy and then swiped his credit card.

That is what impotence looks like.

That is what passivity looks like.

And like so many men, instead of dealing with the problem, he wanted to show his righteous indignation by expositing to others his theories of proper discipline. Most people do it on social media but a small audience in a store works as well.

Though no one was buying it. Everyone witnessed the travesty. That man had no authority and he could not fool anyone into believing otherwise.

There are a few takeaways.

  1. Show some leadership. If the father had said “no,” not left his wife to handle things alone, and just told her to take their daughter to the car, both wife and daughter would have been happier. Or, he could have put the stuffed animal back immediately, told his wife to pay, and taken the daughter out himself.
  2. Don’t rant on social media because you feel impotent at home and need to lash out. Direct your criticism to those it is intended to address. Anything else is cowardice. Your family deserves your attention much more than random strangers on the internet.

After this, the father had a big hole to crawl out of to reclaim some of his authority. But it’s easier if you never dig the hole in the first place.

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