I still don’t know what possessed me to sneak out of my house in the middle of the night to meet my boyfriend* when I was 16 years old. I was met with a consequence, which solidified why dads are important.
My dad was the original Terminator. He was a 30-year Korean and Vietnam War vet. He and my mom ran a tight ship.
He believed in discipline, and he was not afraid to use it.
So sneaking out in the middle of the night was madness. Unadulterated hormonal insanity. If I got caught, I was dead meat. (As we said in those days.) Dad was “the law” in our house. All of it. The judge, the jury and the jailer. He imposed tough sentences. I believe that made him a great dad.
One role of a father is disciplinarian
Good dads discipline their children. I’m thankful my father disciplined me.
The role of a strong father appears to be diminishing in our culture.
Responsible discipline isn’t cruel. It’s about teaching lessons, setting limits and learning to respect authority.
Fathers successfully launch their children into adulthood. A disciplined child respects authority and contributes to society.
I didn’t like it, but my dad held me accountable for my behavior. He taught me personal responsibility. As a result, I’m a better wife, mother, employee, citizen and friend.
I think it’s safe to say we had a healthy fear of our father. We didn’t want to make him angry. We certainly didn’t want to disappoint him. More importantly, his discipline solidified his authority in our minds.
Back in the day, no one would have raised an eyebrow at his methods because discipline was not unusual. It was expected.
Parenting today is tough. We’ve all heard stories of parents who were reported to government authorities for taking away a cell phone or a car.
We’ve also seen cases where parents have gone too far in disciplining children and someone’s had to step in.
Ultimately, we want our kids to obey us because they love and respect us.
As a kid, I trusted my dad knew best. No one in their right mind (in my house anyway) dared swear, sass a teacher, or disregard authority.
And, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night? You had to be nuts.
Which is why I was with my boyfriend for about two and a half minutes before I came to my senses and headed home. (He was scared of my dad, too.) In my momentary absence, my father –reliable and watchful—had gotten up to check the locks and discovered I was truant.
I was gone 12 minutes tops, but when I tried to get back into my house, the door was locked and I didn’t have a key.
After several minutes of lightly rapping on the window to wake my little sister, I heard the front door unlatch. Imagine my surprise when I tip-toed into the dark house, expecting to see my sister, but was met by my dad instead.
He looked at me with a mixture of disappointment and controlled rage and pointed towards my room, which meant go to bed.
As I slithered past him, I began negotiating my consequences by suggesting he not share the information with Mom. (I was in no position to negotiate, but I was in self-preservation mode.)
My dad didn’t rat me out to my mom, which was unusual. Maybe he thought I had temporarily lost my mind. Maybe he knew if he’d told my mom she really would’ve killed me.
In fact, he didn’t tell my mom this story until after I was married with three kids. Maybe he was playing it safe for my sake, making sure the statute of limitations had run out on parental prosecution of teenage offenses.
Today, all eight of my siblings are contributing members of society.
- Three of us have Master’s Degrees.
- Five of us have healthy marriages. (Three aren’t married.)
- None of us has ever been involved with the criminal justice system, which, unfortunately, is a rarity in the black community.
I was gone less than 15 minutes that night, but I still faced consequences. I’m not talking about physical consequences. I’m talking about consequences which have a lasting effect on a teenager–extra chores, no outings with friends, football games. The most painful consequence was disappointing my dad.
Through discipline, he taught me about mercy and justice. His presence represented security. In additional to being a disciplinarian and protector, he eventually became one of my best friends.
Seasoned with the perfect amount of toughness and compassion, he loved me fiercely.
Through discipline, he taught me how to appreciate authority, live responsibly and re-think poor choices like sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night.
*My boyfriend is now my husband.
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Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you get the marriages they yearn for.
After 34 years of marriage, she’s a coach and a speaker whose passion is to equip women to break relationship-killing habits and do marriage God’s way. And you don’t have to be a doormat to do it.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota. They have five children and a Black Lab named Largo.
In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, The Mighty, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and on various other sites on the Internet.