passive dads

Passive Dads

passive dads
photo by Chakrapong Worathat

Parenting is not for passives.

It takes all kinds to make a world. There are all types of parents, and each type has its downfall. Passivity gets my goat. That’s because I see no reason to not give affirmation or take action when the opportunity is there. A person who is passive is “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.” Passive dads are not a good thing. Especially today, we need dads who are active participants.

Perhaps one reason I dislike passivity is because the first passive person’s lack of response created a turmoil that we still face today. When the serpent came to talk to Eve, Adam was passive. We don’t know what might have happened if Adam had manned up, but we do know that his passivity created an avenue for Eve to question and doubt God. Adam did not call her to truth or model leadership.

passive dadsCheckmate

I see that happening in homes today. I see it especially with moms and their offspring – and the passive dad. There are several reasons for this.

  • It’s easier for dad just to let mom take care of things, especially when he is gone from home more than she is.
  • It’s easier for mom to take over and “handle things” because she feels she knows the kids better than he does.
  • Dad does not want to fight mom when it comes to discipline and raising their kids. She’s going to win anyhow or make it difficult for him, so he chooses to step back and let her deal with it. This causes him to lose his effectiveness as a father and the respect of his spouse.
  • Mom thinks dad is too harsh, too unsympathetic, and too strict. She wants to decide how things are done because “she’s the mom” so she just takes over in order to “protect” her kids.
  • Passive dad’s personality might be less assertive than the mom, so it’s easier to let her just do what comes naturally to her and less naturally to him.
  • A passive dad feels he can never “do it” right. He chooses the wrong clothes, puts them on backwards, forgets to have the kids brush their teeth, or forgets to give Johnny his favorite snack like mom always does. So he acquiesces to her. It’s easier that way, isn’t it?

Winning the draw

There’s one way to win the draw. Work together to become the persons you need to be as parents. It won’t be natural, but it will be worth it. Passive dads and assertive moms, you can do this.


Moms, when you realize your spouse is passive because you are taking charge, step back and ask yourself if this is really what you want to model to your kids. If your spouse is naturally passive, you can help him be the leader.

  • Send your kids to talk to dad when they come to you to get permission or an explanation for the rules in your home. Just because it’s easier to come to mom does not warrant the kid bypassing dad. He needs to learn that early so he won’t be insubordinate with his employer.
  • Be okay with dad not doing things the way you do them. When your kid walks across the stage to get his high school diploma, will it really matter that when he was two, his dad dressed him in a clashing outfit or shirt turned inside-out? [Yes, I had to ask myself that question.]
  • If dad says bedtime should be earlier or later than you think, find out why he feels this way and try it his way for an entire month without opening your mouth.
  • You’re a team. Don’t act like he’s not part of the team. Passive dads do not feel a part of the team.


Dads, when you realize you’ve given in to passivity because it’s just the way you are or because it’s just easier not to fight your spouse, take a step back and ask yourself if you want your boys to  be like you when it comes to leadership. If your spouse is naturally the assertive one, you can help her become a better parent when you function as the leader you are called to be.

  • Ask yourself why you resort to passivity in parenting. If it is because it’s just easier to not fight with your spouse, then be honest with yourself and with her.
  • Be okay with your spouse having a soft and tender heart. That’s how she is made. Use that to help you not be too harsh, but don’t let her emotions derail you from being a Godly leader.
  • When you don’t agree with the “rules” your spouse has made, have a conversation about those rules and come up with ones you can agree on together.
  • You’re a team. You’re the leader because God said so. Stop being passive. Use the giftings you both have to parent cohesively together.

Final words

Parenting is difficult enough as it is without tension between the two of you. You won’t always agree. You’ll disagree on nutrition, safety, bedtime, extended family events, holidays, and discipline when you’re parenting. Communicate and ask God for wisdom. He will give it when you ask – He has promised!

For those of you who are raising kids alone, I commend you. This was not God’s original intent. Sin marred that, for sure. If you’re parenting with someone who does not live with you, stay true to your self and remember this is not a power struggle, but an opportunity to model character choices to your kids.

For those of you who are frustrated with my portrayal of the male as head of the home, know that this is based on the Word of God. This plan is not my idea; it is God’s. This is the standard by which we live. Passive dads do not meet that standard. It’s also not okay for passive dads to be passive aggressive. That doesn’t meet the standard, either.

Please also know that what is ideal only happens in real life on some days, but not all. Our kids are grown and gone, but every time we have kiddos or a teenager move in with us for a few days or weeks or months, we face these same challenges and we’re back to the drawing board, again.

Dave still thinks kids should be in bed when it gets dark outside and get up with the light of day. I still think it’s fun to stay up late and sleep in, and don’t want to ask kids to do what I don’t want to do. After 36 years of raising 6 kids and 15+ foster kids, we still disagree, but we have found ways to negotiate our differing interests so we both feel like an essential part of our parenting team!

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