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Horsemen of the Apocalypse: #4 Stonewalling

August 18, 2011

The 4th Horsemen: Stonewalling

Athletes, Hollywood celebrities and politicians have mastered the art of stonewalling.  The strategy is pretty simple. Whenever you are in serious hot water, either deny everything (“I never took steroids”, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) or say that you cannot remember (“I don’t recall”).  The goal is to merely survive a news cycle or some other unpleasant situation.

As fathers, we can stonewall our children as well.  It can take several different forms such as:  stony silence, monosyllabic answers to open ended questions, changing the subject when an important topic comes up and removing ourselves physically from our kids.  Sometimes we trick ourselves that stonewalling is better than confronting reality, because it is less painful.  In our minds, we somehow believe that if we avoid an important topic it might just go away.  We see stonewalling as a neutral option to solve our problems.

Here’s the problem.  Stonewalling is not neutral. When we stonewall our children, we communicate disapproval, disconnection and distance.  Remember, our kids are smarter than we think.  Our kids actually see the “elephant in the room” and when we deny the existence of the elephant or pretend like we cannot see it, we lose credibility and trust with them.  Once our kids are hesitant about our integrity, we have a whole new set of problems.

Can stonewalling work in the short term?  Sure, but go back to the athletes, celebrities and politicians we talked about in the beginning. They might survive the torrent of the current news cycle, but their credibility and trust with the public is gone (see:  Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Larry Craig).  There is a cloud hovering over these guys that will take quite a bit of effort to repair.

As fathers, our greatest strength is our integrity and authenticity.  When we act in ways that honestly confront reality we gain credibility and trust.  When we stonewall, we erode that trust and place a hazy filter of doubt over our relationships.

Time to smash the “stone wall” and live in the power of integrity and authenticity.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach who lives in Oak Park, IL. Contact him at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kirk Kirlin permalink
    August 18, 2011 12:30 pm

    Hey Pat.
    Great post. As the father of six kids, now age 22+, I completely agree that as parents “our greatest strength is our integrity and authenticity. When we act in ways that honestly confront reality we gain credibility and trust.” We also model for our kids (and anyone else watching) how to face difficulty and challenge, trusting Christ in the process.


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