In our society we are bombarded with the idea that men and women are equal. It has gotten to the point that our society can’t even distinguish what a woman is.  If you want to be one, you are one. However, the Bible does not say that men and women are equal. We are different ingredients of the same pie. When put together, we make one pie.

When God made man in the Garden, He just made Adam. He was complete and whole. Then God saw that Adam needed a companion. Adam needed a helper, and so He made Eve. Where did Eve come from?  She came from Adam.  She was taken directly from his body and formed. The Bible says that man shall leave his father and mother for his wife and that they shall become one (Genesis 2:18-25).

So Adam and Eve together were one and complete.  They were more than either was alone.  Adam and Eve were not equal parts of Adam. They were separate parts of Adam that God chose.  One part being man.  One part being woman.  When these two parts come together, they make the core of the family. When man and woman come together, they create life.  In my experience, this creation of life, and the guiding and caring for it, has the potential to bring us closer to God than almost anything else we will do in life.  God, at His core, is a creator. He nurtures all life, because if He moved His hand, for even a second, it would all cease to exist. Being parents allows us to join in His creation and nurturing.

I go through this long explanation to say that the first part of being a good parent is to be a good parent together with your helpmate. No relationship in your child’s life will be more important than the relationship between you and your spouse. If you want to keep your local counselor in business, be nasty and disrespectful to your husband.  Your kids will grow up to respect no one.  They will be arrogant, stubborn, alone, and angry.  I promise you that, unless they are blessed with good looks or money, no one will want to be with them.  If they do, they won’t be happy.  Husbands, be violent, angry, and dismissive of your wife, and your kids will grow up to be the same.  They will be timid and devoid of enough courage to do anything meaningful in life.

So how do we go about being one good parent together?  We must understand that our roles are different but complimentary.

As the dad, you are the head of the family.  As head of the family, your job is to have the vision for the family.  In a simple way, it is your job to ask, “What is my family’s job in the kingdom?”  It is also your job to be responsible for all members of the family.  This means that, as the dad, you need to be thinking about what direction your family members are headed and what they need to get there. . . or sometimes NOT get there.  As the dad, the buck stops with you.  If your family is going in the wrong direction, that is on you.  Your wife will, of course, be there to help you make decisions, but the choices and consequences of those choices rest on you.

Dads are the disciplinarians.  It is my belief that every child should have a healthy fear of their father.  They should want to please them and should be worried about his response when they are disobedient.  As fathers, we have a natural advantage when it comes to getting compliance from our kids.  We are the bigger and naturally more aggressive of the sexes. There are times a dad will be able to get compliance when mother can’t.

As a dad, your job is to be a team player.  Don’t undermine your wife.  Talk with her about the plans for the family.  Make sure that you are on the same page.  Make sure that the kids know that if they mess with mom, they have to answer to you.  Once dad and mom are on the same page, inspire and teach your kids to also be on the same page.

Finally, your most important job as a dad is to love your children and live a life that shows them God’s path.  A child that is loved will want to imitate that path.

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,  so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Psalm 78:5-8

As mom, you are the nurturer of the family.  You are there to help teach your kids compassion and empathy.  Moms have a unique role in teaching kids about love.  I firmly believe that, in a healthy home, no one will ever love you as much as your mom.  The love that a mom shows becomes the basis for us loving others.  A person can only truly see the worth in others when they first see the worth in themselves.

A mom’s job is to back up dad.  You have an obligation to understand and follow your husband’s plan for the family, as it is given to him by God.  Dad will often be gone, and it is your job to teach the kids God’s ways.  A mom’s job is to listen and encourage.  Moms are not usually seen as being the scarier of the parents or the harsher disciplinarians.  From the time I was in junior high, I knew I could beat my mom in a wrestling match.  My dad is in his 70s, and I’m still not convinced I could beat him.

This gives moms a special spot where kids can be more vulnerable.  When you hear important things from your children, it is so important to encourage them and help them move through these things, even if you can’t do anything to solve the problem.  If a mom pushes a child further down when he is vulnerable, it can have life-long effects on their self-esteem and confidence.  Here is a hint for mothers.  You often have the same effect and ability on your husbands. They will often be vulnerable and trust you with things that they won’t tell other men.  Don’t use this against them, or they will grow to be isolated from you. Encourage them and support them, and you will be amazed by the strength this gives them.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:25-30

I know this may seem odd, but part of raising righteous children is letting them know what they should be, or their role in the family. Far too often in modern society, the whole family revolves around the children. Many times, we adjust what activities we do, all the way down to what we eat, just to keep them from getting angry or to make them feel special.  This leads to selfish self-centered children that no one wants to be around.

So, what is a child’s role in the family?  First and most importantly, be a good follower.  This starts first with obeying your parents.  As you get older, start trying to understand the Bible and how your family’s purpose fits into this.  As you gain understanding, find ways that you can help and fit into your family’s purpose.  Once you learn to be a good follower, your family will give you more responsibility. My dad always tells me that only after mastering being a good follower can you become a good leader.  One day you will be a leader of your own family.  Learn to be a good follower today.

“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.  When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.

Proverbs 4:1-4

This is by no means a complete list of what we should BE in a family. It is only meant to get us started thinking about what we should be as godly leaders and followers in our families.  As always at Sanctuary Family Farms, we pray for your continued strength in living your purpose in your family and God’s kingdom.

— Written by Jeremiah, a PhD psychologist