by Nicholeen Peck
Honoring self-evident family roles promotes increased family identity, a functional family culture, and secure children. In order to honor the family roles of children and parents, it’s vital that we understand what family roles are and how they help us succeed. Misconceptions about roles have confused so many people and discouraged young people from pursuing a future family life. Many people falsely suggest that the father’s role is to be a dictator and that a mother only nurtures by cooking and cleaning. Neither of these stereotypical boxes are accurate when describing the characters, roles and powers of mothers and fathers.
The word “role” originated in the theatre world. On a certain day, play writes gathered their actors together to hand out the rolls of paper containing the lines for the actor’s character. Roll day led to the creation of the concept that we are all characters in a bigger play called life, and we all are given a role to play.
We don’t choose our own roles. Roles are self-evident and assigned to us. We accept the roles God has given us, just like an actor accepted the roll of paper from the playwright that assigns them their part in the play..
Often people under appreciate the infinite power of learning about and living their familial roles. Family identity is formed in the family unit. When a family doesn’t live its family roles, it often ceases to be a functional family.
Mothers and fathers both have the role of teacher, while children have the role of learner, which provides a perfect balance and order to family life. If learners refuse to learn or teachers will not teach, then the family becomes dysfunctional.
Mothers hold the heartstrings of all of their family members. They are the heart and hearthstone of the family. When children are young, they are guided by their mothers in all things. They learn their morals, values, thinking patterns, and behaviors from their mother. Children are usually completely allegiant to their mother to the point of tattle-telling on father if he does something mother wouldn’t like.
Fathers don’t usually have as great an influence as mothers until children are older. To their young children, fathers are usually the source of fun, adventure, and security.
Children come to their mothers for wisdom and their fathers for acceptance.
While children can learn wisdom from either mother or father and can feel accepted by both mother and farther, child see their mothers as the primary moral and physical guide for safety and father as the person that they hope to please and get attention from.
As children grow older, they often follow Dad’s example for living as they transition into adulthood. Since father has such a strong influence on the youth, a wise father points the hearts of his children back toward mother so that she can still teach morality and judgement in that strong and gentle way that only mother can do.
Mother is usually referred to as a nurturer. To nurture is to nourish, teach, strengthen, grow, and correct. Sure, mothers often cook food for their families. But a mother need not be a cook to nourish her young. She nourishes their bodies, minds, and hearts with her example of sacrifice and living her priorities. She nourishes by words, example, instructions, and corrections. In addition, she wisely uses her influence to point the children toward their father since he is also their example.
Father is commonly referred to as the person who protects, provides, and presides. Protecting a family means more than having physical strength. Fathers protect by living according to morals that mother agrees with. If father deliberately aligns with mother’s teachings, then he protects his children by showing them that he gives his approval of mother’s teachings. If father rejects or rebels against mother’s teachings, then the children could turn against mother’s guiding influence and fall from their values. Protection from fathers also happens when fathers honor spiritual truths and promote character development.
Providing is more than making money for the family, even though it is that. Fathers provide strength and support for their children by becoming the example the children should follow and by enabling mothers to be able to be there for their children whenever possible.
To preside is often misunderstood. People think of kings, tyrants, and rulers when they think of the term – preside. But, to preside is to lead out. When a good father presides, then he talks less, listens more, maintains a strong foundation, and gives family members an opportunity to lead and grow.
Missing The Mark
We have seen people totally miss the mark on roles. First, they equate roles to responsibilities. That’s too simplified. While roles and responsibilities do work together, they are not the same. I could have a responsibility to pay the house payment. I could even earn the money for the house payment. But, that doesn’t mean my role is provider. It’s true that my husband may see making the house payment as part of his role as provider. But, it is really just one responsibility within that role. Being a provider is much deeper than a house payment or paycheck.
When parents don’t know their roles, they don’t think of discussing roles with their children. And, when roles are not deliberately discussed children can fail to attach to their role or fail to understand their identity. When mothers guide their children’s hearts and teach, and fathers protect and teach, and children learn, then a functional family culture is formed where children feel secure in their family identity, which leads them to be more secure overall.
As learners, children learn who they are and what life is all about from their families and the family roles. Children who understand and honor self-evident family roles feel more connected to themselves and their families. Their hearts literally turn toward their families as they naturally respond to the feeling of belonging that accompanies proper family roles.
This book will help you talk to your family about family roles and get the roles in the right place so that your family can be functional.