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Dadtatorship or Dadocracy

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What sort of dad are you? Do you dictate every aspect of your kids’ lives? Is living at your house like a military boot camp for the kids and ‘it’s your way or the highway’? OR do you discuss and include your children? Are they part of the process for making decisions on family matters, what chores they do and what they want for dinner?


After reading that you probably think the ‘Dadtatorship’ method sounds appalling and you definitely want to run a happy ‘Dadocracy’ style household. But the truth is, you need a balance of both.


Your role as a dad and single parent is to raise your children to grow into happy, confident, well rounded, resilient members of society. But to this you need to both allow your children to make decisions, make mistakes and learn how to work effectively with others, whilst protecting them until they’re ready to do so. Boundaries and routines actually make children feel happier and safe. The way you enforce these boundaries is the difference between a happy home and a war zone.


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Need to Know

Parents often change their relationship with their children when they become single. Sometimes there’ll be some resentment towards the kids’ mum and possibly guilt because you couldn’t provide them with a cohesive, loving family unit under one roof.


So you begin trying to become more of a friend than a parent hoping they’ll love you more for it. You’ll tell them things and share information you wouldn’t normally, probably because you don’t have another grown up around to discuss those adult issues and have those adult conversations with.


For example, oversharing financial information with children or deep personal details about your past or your ex isn’t necessarily a good idea. Think to yourself whether or not they need to know such information, what they will gain from the information, and why you’re sharing it in the first place.


Your children might worry because they don’t fully understand the full implications or consequences of some of the information you’re dishing out.


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Be a Grown Up

Telling kids you’ve got no money left because you lost it all in the divorce and that their mum took it all and now you can’t afford to do ‘x, y or z’ isn't fair. This will make them worry about you, the effect on their lifestyle and start to question the integrity of their mother. It helps no one.


You need to talk and offload some steam? Talk to friends or get some specialist help, don’t burden your children. They need to feel safe and secure. Dads are supposed to provide that for them. So hold back information they won’t benefit from.


It’s ok to tell kids you can’t afford to do certain things as money isn’t limitless. It’s important for them to know the difference between needs and wants.

Just because you can’t afford an overseas holiday or an 80” TV doesn’t mean you can’t afford to buy them clothes or shoes. Sometimes they have trouble understanding the difference between necessities and luxuries.


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Obey My Command!

‘Dadtatorships’ can give the impression that dads are bullies, and it’s true to say that many dads can be bullies often without realising it. There are many times where the ‘law’ has to be put down, for safety, for convenience, for the good of the family or even just because it’s the right thing to do.


Somethings you shouldn’t compromise on such as the way they speak to or treat others, vaping, alcohol and a raft of other things. It might even be something less important like what you are making for dinner, having friends over without asking or spending pocket money on sweets.


Being firm on some issues doesn’t mean you need to be a harsh dictator and often it’s worth explaining why you have chosen your stance on a particular topic and including them in the process.


‘Because I said so!’ is a less effective answer in a world where we now teach children to be inquisitive and question everything, however, it is sometimes necessary. Especially if you don’t have time at that point to explain your reason why, or if you’re dealing with younger children who wouldn’t understand some concepts because it’s outside of their developmental stage. But when possible, explain why, or risk such phrases becoming ineffective through overuse.


Bit of Both

Whilst raising children requires some elements of a ‘Dadtatorship’, most other areas are best handled in a ‘Dadocracy’. This involves discussing and having your children be part of some decision making processes.


Remember that raising children is about giving them life lessons to set them up for adulthood. Making decisions and discussing things with others as part of group, realising that you might not agree with others’ decisions and sometimes it is necessary to compromise, is a life skill that needs to be learned.


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Know When to Apply

There are many situations where a ‘Dadocracy’ can turn quickly into a ‘Dadtatorship’. I’ve learned many times that asking 3 children what movie they want to watch together or what they would like for dinner never leads to all 3 agreeing. Arguing ensues and then dad has to step in to make the decision for them.


Have processes in place to eliminate similar situations like this. Establishing a meal plan for the week, with each child choosing a meal or two whilst you choose the rest. It prevents those the on the spot decisions and let’s everyone know what’s coming. Doesn’t always make for completely smooth running, but it certainly helps.


In most aspects of life things aren’t always black and white, there are many grey areas. Know what things can’t be compromised on and what can. Pick your battles, be consistent, and hopefully your blend of ‘Dadtatorship’ and ‘Dadocracy’ will lead to a smooth running happy, loving home.


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As with any of my articles and posts, feel free to contact me with feedback or other ideas about things you'd like to see on my site. justdadit42@gmail.com

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