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Great Fathers Trait #1: Good Disciplinarian

September 6, 2011

Good discipline is a combination of care and clarity.

For the next few weeks, we are going to examine 12 traits that Great Fathers possess.  The first trait is that Great Fathers are good disciplinarians.  Fathers who are superb disciplinarians only need to use their words, not their fists or a belt.  These men are fair, even keeled and rational when disciplining  their children. They tend not to get overly emotional or take their children’s behavior as a personal reflection on them.  Having said that, these fathers tend to have high expectations for behavior that are clearly understood by everyone.

So, let’s break it down.  What are the three things that good disciplinarians do?

1.They have clear expectations ahead of time that are understood and agreed to by everyone.

2.They do not get emotional (angry or fearful) when they discipline.

3.They  let  natural consequences run their course.

Unclear expectations is a problem for everybody involved.  It is better to spend extra time on the front end making sure everyone is one the same page, than letting things be squishy and unclear.    If something is super important and there has been misunderstanding in the past, then taking extra step to write things down is helpful.

Secondly, it is easy to say, “Do not get emotional, when you discipline”, but much harder to execute.  When you’re child “forgets” to take out the garbage for the 6th time, it is easy to fly into a rage.  But, here is the real question, “What is the rage all about?”  Is it about showing your kid who is boss?  Is it about your feelings being hurt?  Is it pure frustration that you are not being listened to?  My next question is, “What has happened the previous five times the garbage was not taken out?”  If the answer is “nothing”, then we know where the problem lies.  Yelling or stomping around does help people change their behavior.

Finally, effective disciplinarians let natural consequences run their course.  If your child has been busted for drinking or some other school infraction, there can be a tendency to rescue him/her .  None of us like to see our children in pain, but shielding him/her from natural consequences can be devastating.  This is the Dad that rushes in to regain his son’s athletic eligibility by getting a court injunction after he is busted for drinking.  The long term message is clear:  someone will always clean up your mess.  We need to help our children clean up their own messes.

A father who is a strong disciplinarian is clear, emotionally stable and not afraid of natural consequences for his children.  Those type of Dads create strong, stable and healthy children.

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

One Comment leave one →
  1. Andrew permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:58 pm

    Patrick – I’m enjoying your Great Fathers Traits posts! I appreciate the insight and the perspective. I could do a better job on trait #1 – even-keeled discipline. I sometimes let my anger come out in my discipline, and I know that’s wrong. Kids learn anger when they see it in their parents too. So thanks for the reminders! I write a blog on the journey of fatherhood. Check it out when you have a moment. I’d appreciate your feedback too! It’s at Cheers, and keep posting!

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