Last week I mentioned that I wanted to get my husband's input on this chapter, (since it IS about fathers, of course) and I am finally getting around to the post. I hope you had a chance to talk with your husband too! First, let's review what the chapter was about.
This chapter is primarily about the importance of fathers as the spiritual leaders of their families. Farley says, "When men abdicate, their children suffer. When men assume their proper role, parenting thrives." (pg. 126) He quotes lots of statistics and explains why this is true to support what he has said.
As the parent who is NOT the father, I began to feel a weight of despair. I would venture to guess that you might have as well? There are many reasons for this. You might have a husband who is a non-Christian. You might have a husband who is a nominal Christian. You might have a husband who, though he is a Christian doesn't express his faith much, attend bible studies or initiate spiritual discussions with the family. Or, you might be like me - although your husband is a Christian and a leader, you realize that YOU do not have primary control or influence - (which can be a very scary thing for someone who likes to control everything- like me!)
Farley then goes on to ask the question (that I was already asking!), "What can we do to attract men to our churches, to excite men about fatherhood?" Here are his three answers: (pg 133)
- (Churches should) emphasize the objective truth of the gospel
- (Churches should) develop masculine role models (by emphasizing the model of biblical masculinity found in Christ and through men who have been impacted by the gospel)
- We should encourage women to promote biblical masculinity.
Since the first two solutions need to come from the local church body and other men, the last solution is really the one we as wives and mothers should focus on, (while trusting in God to provide for our husbands in the first two areas.)
Four Ways Women Can Encourage Biblical Masculinity
Contrary to the often tried, but ineffective methods of nagging, guilting, condemning, worrying, panicking, controlling and usurping - Farley suggests a better way.
- Direct the children to their father when they have questions.
- Respect your husband especially in front of the children.
- Pray for your husband's masculinity to be defined by Christ's example.
- Enourage your husband to lead - not by nagging, but "by calling attention to evidences of grace at work in him".
It can be really difficult for dads to learn to take the reigns of leadership (spiritual leadership especially) in their families. One reason is they may not have had an example of Christ-like biblical masculinity as they grew up. But another reason has to do with the roles and responsibilities that moms take on early in a child's life.
From the time a baby is conceived mom is pretty much in charge of the child's nurturing and well-being. The very nature of pregnancy and childbirth tends to make the mom more interested in finding all the best ways to nuture, feed and prepare for the child. Once the child is born, breastfeeding, sleep patterns and staying at home with the baby can also be primarily the job of the mom. Although we agreed on the choices for our babies, I was basically the one who did the research, chose what I thought would work best (since I would be at home with them) and shared my findings with my husband. His job was to say, "Yes dear, can I give you a backrub?"
As we began to make decisions about school, we both agreed that homeschooling was a great choice. But the tasks of choosing curriculums, methods, schedules and then actually teaching really fell to me. As a result - nearly all of the leadership functions in the house regarding the kids ended up falling to me. "Son, listen to your mother," and "Yes dear, can I give you a backrub?" was about all I wanted to hear.
Now my oldest is on the verge of the pre-teens and this statement from William Farley is really starting to hit home...
In other words, I am starting to see my influence with the boys begin to wain. They are definitely looking increasingly to their father for direction and identification!In terms of intimacy, care, and nurture - crucial functions- Mom's role is primary. But it is equally true that when a child begins to move into that period of differentiation from home and engagement with the world "out there" he or she looks increasingly to the father for direction. (pg. 131)
How can I as a wife and mother encourage, support and assist my husband in taking on this role as spiritual leader when most of the day to day leading has always been on my plate?
Maybe I should ask my husband?!
So I told my husband that I need some help and wanted his thoughts on something. He was definitely up for it, so we are just waiting for a date night to finish the conversation. Here are the questions that I came up with for us... you might want to use them as well, or use them as a starting place to work on some questions that would more uniquely fit your family.
- As the boys grow older they will begin to differentiate and look to you for spiritual leadership. How can I encourage that?
- How can I provide opportunity for that?
- How can I help you?
- What are your fears about that?
- What obstacles will hinder this and how can I assist or help find assistance in dealing with those obstacles?
- What do I do that hinders your leadership?
- What do I do that encourages your leadership?
- What do you think my greatest weakness is in submitting to your leadership?
- What do you think your greatest weakness is in initiating leadership?
- Are you still supportive of our decision to homeschool?
- What areas do you think we could/should focus more on or less on?
Your turn...What things do you do to encourage your husband's spiritual leadership?
How do you think your responsibilities as the "primary care provider" sometimes contribute to diminishing your husbands leadership role in the family?
Any other thoughts about this chapter?
If you are reading along with us, I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the chapters you have read so far. You can comment here, or on the posts from any of the previous chapters. You can find all of the posts on the new Book Club page.