You want them to listen. You want them to respect your rules. You want them to do what they’re supposed to do, the things that will make them successful.
Well, for most dads, the answer is to default to the easiest and most primal form of leadership: force. You make them do it. It’s got a simple logic to it and it seems like it works—punishment, discipline, do it because I’m bigger than you, because I can take away the TV remote, because I said so. But perhaps you remember from your own childhood that this strategy falls apart over time. In the end, it turns out to be counterproductive.
“It is my pleasure that my children are free,” Abraham Lincoln once said, “happy and unrestrained by parental tyranny.” He knew about parental tyranny. His father used force. His father was controlling. His father meant well but had few tools at his disposal. It didn’t work and his kids were not fond of him, and wanted to get away as soon as they could. That’s not what you want is it? No, you want your kids to really listen, to buy in. You want them around, you want them to come to you. You want a crowded table.
Okay. Then listen to Lincoln. “Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parent.”