what to do when your child doesnt want to spend time with you

3 Ways You Drive Your Kid Away as a Dad

Since my oldest daughter was born, I’ve imagined what it will be like when she leaves for college. Now that she’s a teen, when I get frustrated with her, I’ll say to my wife, “Remind me of this when she leaves for college—so I don’t cry.” I don’t think my daughter’s ever heard me say this. But imagine the wedge it would drive between us if she ever did. 

Dads often talk about what annoys us, but we don’t think about how that can drive our kids away.

Dads often talk about what annoys us, but we don’t think about how that can drive our kids away. Ephesians 6:4 says “not to provoke” your children. Do you know what to do when your child doesn’t want to spend time with you? Here are 3 ways you drive your kids away as a dad.

1. By Not Admitting It When You’re in the Wrong

Matthew 7:3-5 asks why you look at the splinter in another’s eye but don’t notice the lumber in your own eye. We need to take responsibility for things we’ve done wrong before we can go after what others have done wrong. As a dad, when you’re wrong and you don’t admit it, you’re showing your child it’s OK to avoid accountability.

On the other hand, when you admit when you’re wrong, you demonstrate a powerful model of being accountable to others. Be the first to admit it. Say, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” Then ask, “Will you forgive me?” When you work at making things right, you are drawing your kids closer rather than pushing them away.

2. By Disciplining Your Kids in Front of Others

Have you seen the overwhelmed dad in the grocery store line? He has a young kid who’s begging for a toy while trying to check out with a few essentials. I’ve seen many dads in this situation yell and embarrass their kids. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Take care of the issue with your kids in private.

Sure, not disciplining your kid in front of others can be tricky because kids will be kids—especially in public. But, when you discipline your kid in public, you can crush his or her spirit. Younger kids may need a quick trip to the bathroom for a discussion and a reminder of the rules. Older kids may need to walk back to the car for a talk and some time to calm down.

3. By Failing to Keep Your Promises

I know a dad who makes lots of promises to his kids. Then, when the date approaches, he’s flippant about it. He does this with small things like a trip for donuts on the weekend and bigger things like birthday celebrations. He says one thing but continually does another. But Matthew 5:37 says you are to let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. 

As dads, our words should matter. When we say we’re doing something, it should be as good as done. Resist getting your kids excited about something just to let them down. There are no things small enough to leave a kid hanging. If you have a habit of not following through, they won’t believe what you say. When it’s time to have more serious talks as your kids age, what will you do then? Whether it’s a quick trip for hot chocolate across the street or a planned vacation, let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Sound off: How are you doing as a dad in each of these three areas?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How does it feel when somebody breaks a promise?”