In his book Making Peace With Your Father, David Stoop lists eight types of fathers that negatively affect their children.
- The workaholic father. This father works at the expense of his relationship with his children. His work is his priority over his family. He loves his job more than his children. He will show love to them through giving money but he thinks all they need is money not time.
- The silent father. He is home with his family but he acts as if he was alone. He does not dialogue with his children unless he disciplines them. He does not get involved in his family activities. He is “present physically but absent in virtually every other aspect” of his family life.
- The emotionless father. He simply does not care about the feelings of his children. He fails to demonstrate his love to them both in words and in deeds. Consequently, his children wonder if he really loves them, since they don’t see and feel his love.
- The alcoholic father. As soon as he is under the influence of alcohol, he changes from being nice to nasty. “Many fathers, while not addicted to alcohol, nevertheless use alcohol as a way of eluding the family. If they’ve had a bad day…having a drink or two becomes not just a convenient way to relax and unwind, but also a convenient way to retreat from others. Any possibility of meaningful connection with spouses or children ends when the drinking starts.”
- The tyrannical father. This father demands too much from his children. He often expects his children “to carry on some family tradition, such as excelling in a sport or pursuing a particular career. The rage comes when the child does not seem to be measuring up or is not achieving quickly enough to suit Dad.” For him, nothing his children do is ever good enough.
- The abusive father. David Stoop once asked a certain child if he had any happy childhood memories of his father. “No,” he said. “Only the beatings. That’s all I can remember. That, and the terror I felt in my stomach every time Dad came home.” This father has no idea that he has damaged his child’s life psychologically and emotionally.
- The seductive father. “It is important to distinguish seductive fathers from sexually abusive fathers. ‘Seductive’ refers to a set of behaviors that do not include molestation. The key feature of a seductive father is that he is fuzzy regarding personal boundaries… He exhibits a higher degree of intimacy toward [his children] than they are comfortable with, or than is appropriate, and often expects the same in return.”
- The competitive father. “This type of father was frequently abandoned by his own father, prompting him to overcompensate in his attempts to be manly [or macho]. His male identity is quite fragile and must be protected at all costs, even from his own children. This often shows up in the way he plays with them: There must always be a winner and a loser, and the winner must always be Dad.”
Fathers, do you find yourself in any of the above descriptions? Although perhaps many of us strive to avoid these qualities, the truth is we all fail and are prone to falling under any of these categories. That’s why we need to pray earnestly to God for his grace as we raise our children in the fear of the Lord. It should be our daily prayer that we may model God’s character to our children, always pointing them to our perfect heavenly Father. And when we fail in our calling as fathers, let us not despair. There is always forgiveness in Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).