Few things will send a child scurrying down the black hole of dysfunction more than the angry dad. An angry dad in the home is the metaphorical equivalent of rolling a child’s heart through a mine field.
He lives between two worlds: (1) striving to be perfect for his dad and (2) receiving exasperating disapproval from his dad. The accumulative effect of this kind of tension is hard to overcome.
In fact, most children never completely overcome it. I have counseled scores of “50-year old” children who are still trying to please their fathers, even though some of their dads have been dead for many years.
The traumatic consequences of a dad’s anger is incalculable.
Born to be fearful
Children come into our world fearful and insecure. This was part of the fallout from the Adamic curse.
Adam walked away from God and part of the consequences of his sin was fearful insecurity. And because we are “in Adam,” we have inherited his consequences. Being fearful is part of the curse.
Imagine a child coming into our cold and harsh world only to find himself dependent on an angry dad. It is a lose-lose situation for the child. He does not stand a chance. It’s not unusual for the child to harbor resentment toward God for this “trick of nature.”
The only people he knows to depend on are the “big people in the room” and when one of the big people has an anger problem, the child is confused as to how to respond.
A child does not have the spiritual or psychological capability to accurately process what is happening to him.
Initially he sees his parents as perfect. And why not? They are older, taller, stronger, less dependent, and smarter than he is. They are also his authority figures.
It stands to reason they are perfect because they are in the know and are always right. Therefore, what the parent says has to be true. Right?
At least that is how a child processes what he is experiencing. Therefore, if a dad yells at him, then it only makes sense the child did something wrong.
“I must be doing something wrong. Why else would daddy be yelling at me? I messed up. There must be something wrong with me.”
The quiet introverted child
The child’s constitution will determine how he internalizes, processes, and responds to what is happening to him. If the child has a propensity toward introversion, then he will “go quiet.” Being quiet is normal for him; it only makes sense