Is being a hard-ass dad wrong?

Townsend Russell
4 min readDec 11, 2021


Being only a hard-ass dad is not the answer. We’ve seen that story. Hard-ass overbearing dads drive their kids away and tear them apart. There is no real strong relationship. The “my way or the highway“ approach 100% of the time, is a failed strategy. It creates lifelong resentment and disrespect. It weakens kids’ confidence in themselves. It discourages independent thought and action.

It’s a good thing

I’m 100% okay with dads being a hard ass. Just not ALL the time. Dad needs to have a soft side. It’s imperative. Hard-ass dads need to demonstrate gentleness, kindness. Show love and humility. They need to model forgiveness. Kids need to understand the reason you’re a hard ass. Establish leadership hierarchy, firm rules, and accountability respect, etc.

A home that has rules, consequences, structure, and toughness is a great home to raise kids as long as there is a counterbalance of unconditional love, forgiveness, understanding, and flexibility.

What you don’t want is to create a rigid environment whereas the child gets older they realize they can rebel. And that they are so tired of being dictated to and oppressed that they start doing the opposite of what you want just to spite you.

It’s not healthy and it happens a lot.

Allow negotiations. Not all the time. I am still your dad and sometimes you just have to do what I say. Allowing negotiations is a tactic that has real-world applications and simultaneously provides the benefit of them having some control and input into their lives.

Remember it’s a negotiation….it doesn’t mean you have to cave….it means you get something else of value.

Explaining why.

Hardass dads that give orders and don’t explain the why are handicapping their kids and driving a wedge between them. It’s a lot easier to follow orders when we understand the reason…..even if we don’t agree with it.

This has the added benefit of teaching them how you think and how you create logic.

Dad plays a big role in building confidence, and it is a unique approach. It should be modified to your kids’ personalities and situations. Confidence comes over time. Finding success and being allowed to experience that success on their own is huge.

They need to experience accomplishment to feel confident. Recognizing that there are little wins in everything we do is a great confidence builder. Us dads can push them to be better and recognize the little victories too.

They need to understand failure is acceptable, so it doesn’t crush them. Preparation is huge. In school, sports, or hobbies the more you practice the better you will perform. So preparation is key to the success we want them to experience.

Them knowing mom and dad fully support them regardless of outcomes is huge. By that I mean we push them to give their best and go for the win…but we will celebrate with them or morn with them. We focus on the things they did well. This is why we can’t be hard-ass drill sergeants all the time!


Creating intimacy and I know that’s a weird word for some of you. It was weird for me. We are simply talking about closeness, putting down our guard, and being open.

This is how you cement a lifelong bond with your kids. If you are like me this is not a natural state for you. Spend one on one time with your kids to develop that bond. Be very involved in infancy and those early years because that time that feels useless is very important in bonding. In the end, TIME is the biggest factor. How you behave in that time is relevant too, but time quantity is valued higher than quality.

My boys know they can come to me with anything, and I will listen and be honest with them. I won’t criticize, blow off, or try and give an immediate fix.

It’s important that we do this as early as possible so when the big things come up as teenagers our kids are willing to come to us with their issues.

Make it known

If you are a hard-ass dad it is important you recognize the importance of showing that soft side I know you have. Say nice things out loud to your kids, heck write notes to them. Tell them you are proud of them and you love them.

Mention specific character traits you are glad they have. Google character traits if you are at a loss! Don’t focus on looks and school/athletic performances. Really dive deep into their character and who they are as a person.

That way if the looks fade, they get injured, or get a bad score they still know dad loves them for what’s inside of them and how they treat people!

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