Should Kids Want to Please Their Dads?

Should kids want to please their dads? This is a really interesting question we got from Tyler, so he was taking the skill of fatherhood and he put this comment in and he phrased it really well. He talked about how he as a player on a team would oftentimes really strive to please his coach and he realized what a motivation that was for him as a teammate and then he was like, “Oh, I don’t want to bring that into my home. I don’t want my kids to be running around like I did as a teammate trying to please me the way I tried to please my coaches. How should I think about this?” And man, I was like, “Whoa, that’s a really deep question.”

So there’s a distinction that I started to try to tease out when Tyler asked this, which is I actually think that a son or daughter should want in a healthy relationship and a healthy dynamic in a family should want to please their dad. Jesus wanted to please his father in John 8:29 he says, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” And the question I think Tyler was struggling with is, isn’t this anti gospel? And I think that the difference and distinction that I was trying to tease out of my answer was, we do not want or ever need to earn God’s love. We should never create a scenario in our home in which our children feel that they have to perform to earn our love. That is, that is not a good home.

But we should have a home in which all of the family members really value and desire to please each other. Those are not the same thing. And a lot of times we think they’re the same thing and they’re not. I want to please my wife, I want to please my kids, my kids want to please me. It’s not the ultimate thing. There are a lot of other things I want too but I want that and Jesus wanted to please his father. And to the extent that your children are motivated to say, “Oh, I love it when my dad’s cheering on the sideline saying that was amazing and I pleased him.” Like you did please that coach, like in a healthy relationship where there is a foundation of love and acceptance and belonging that is cemented and unmovable no matter how they perform actually working to please each other can be a healthy dynamic. But this is a tough one that the devil’s in the details I think in this one Jeff, right?

Yes, that’s a good way to put it and I mean we have to give credence to the fact that the most intimate moment of a parent and a kid in all of human history, I would argue meaning it was full intimacy, no sin involved, et cetera. Was the moment of Jesus at his baptism and literally the most intimate parent/kid relationship ever in history at the moment of its intimacy was what? It was a father saying, “I’m well pleased in you.” So I guess it literally shows up. There’s only like two sentences in that moment. And pleasing is actually one of the things that has to do with.

And so yeah, but it’s healthy, pleasing. There is a huge distinction. Where it gets off the rails, where it’s detrimental and where, as a parent, you have to really hedge and guard against, is the anytime it’s a behavior or a performance to gain a certain amount of agape love that shouldn’t have to be earned, it’s given.

So, that’s the distinction, that when those wires start getting crossed, that’s dangerous, that’s bad. That’s where people get disillusioned with the church and God because of it. But there is different versions of love also and there is different love versions of pleasing. So that’s the one that really gets off the rails, is if you’re trying to literally please someone. You’re trying to get a covenantal love by doing a performance, that’s not correct. And so as a parent too, we have to make sure we’re not propagating that in some sense. So, that’s that.

But then what I would also say is I would also make a distinction also between the coaching analogy where I think there’s a difference between trying to please a coach, maybe to play a role in the game and a difference between just pleasing him in the sense of a longterm coach who you know loves you and affirms you.

Right. And what I mean by that is like when I look back on some of my, the coaches that have impacted me the most, they’re the ones that to this day I would still say, I know I could call up and they would give me life advice. And because they love me and because they really took me under their wing as a son, even though we’re 15 years removed from some of those on an actual formal business card, he’s a coach to me. So, because that was more about the functional parts of the game.

And so I think we are lumping a little bit of everything in too much of one bucket in the sense of a real coach is the coach who’s more a father for your life, even in a sport, versus just like, and I’m able to also divide than what I’m saying because of that, with those moments back then where the coach clearly said, “Oh, you’re not cut out for that.” Like you’re not going to succeed there, you can’t do that. You haven’t earned that role. You haven’t earned that ability.

That’s not me being totally destroyed because I don’t feel loved by that coach. That’s just more the practical elements of this is the leader and he understands me more than I understand myself and knows what’s good for the team. So that’s a different thing than this coach is for me and for my best and loves me. So I don’t know if that makes sense, but I feel like that distinction is important. And when those do cross over in the sense of you’re feeling this one, but in the more lifelong coaching of love and affirmation and son-ship, then yeah, then that’s a big difference. But I think if you’re making that distinction and you’re also understanding the difference between the different types of love, I think you’re fine. And I think you’re good and pleasing as a good and beautiful thing.

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