Tag Archives: happy families

Real Men aren’t Like TV Dads—How To Be a Good Family Leader

I recently talked at a men’s group about marriage and family leadership. We discussed the dads we usually see on TV. They’re inept, unorganized, forgetful, immature, and easy to make fun of. The moms are usually in charge of the family and very bright, not to mention gorgeous and well dressed. And the kids are terribly cute and funny and have all the answers before they leave grade school.

Thankfully, most real men aren’t like those we see on TV. Most of the men I know are hard-working, intelligent, and try to get as much time with their families as they can. These real men (sometimes) cook dinner and scrub floors, change diapers and bring home the bacon. And the best of them provide excellent family leadership as well.

During my talk, some of the guys said their wives don’t always give them a voice, let alone allow them to make decisions. This is fairly common in our modern world in which women learn to multitask and make many decisions at work. We may forget that men want to be respected and appreciated. They want to feel like men, not little boys who are told what to do. So if you’re thinking that your husband needs to be a better leader, ask yourself if you have prevented him from taking that role. Do your best to encourage and support him, rather than nagging or complaining.

What does it mean to be a family leader?

Leaders are responsible for the wellbeing of their family/unit/group. Being a good leader means having a servant mentality—being willing to help without being asked and do whatever is needed for the good of the family and its members. Second, it means being aware of the direction the family is taking and being willing and able to redirect course if needed. Third, a leader gets input from everyone involved and is willing to make tough decisions.

A strong leader helps develop a common vision and a plan for achieving that vision. Everyone in the family should participate in this process. Other important skills include budgeting, ability to deal with change, encouraging/supporting everyone in the family, and developing the team (family members). Here’s a list from CNN of 23 traits of good leaders that is a great start if you want to assess your own leadership qualities or develop your leadership skills. It mentions things like having confidence, caring for others, having integrity and humility.

My thinking about family leadership is of course colored by my own experience with my husband who has always had strong leadership skills both at home and at work. He does well to be a consensus builder and seek out input. He researches thoroughly and is not afraid to make a decision. He models service to others and has strong financial leadership. He spends time with other mature men who support him, and vice versa. He is a spiritual leader in our family, leading prayer and character lessons for the kids. (You might think kids would find this dull, but there are so many resources to make it fun. Our kids remind us that it’s time to do another. ) He encourages each family member’s development of skills and hobbies and cheers us on. He always displays honesty and hard work. And one of his more important leadership traits is that he admits when he is wrong. We are much more willing to listen to a leader who admits he has faults and failings, aren’t we?

Delegation is a skill not to be ignored. Being a leader does not mean that person is in charge of everything. A husband who is weak at finances may do much better with the wife at the helm of the family’s pocketbook. A tech-savvy teen may be just the person to make a decision about the family’s computer needs. A loving husband respects his wife as his equal, and a family leader makes the most of each person’s contributions.

Being a leader doesn’t mean ordering other people around or being a control freak. I grew up in a house like that, and it wasn’t fun, nor was it productive.

What does being a family leader mean to you? Husbands, how do you show loving leadership? Wives, how does your husband best display family leadership? Does media’s portrayal of dads/husbands affect your view of how they should act?

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by digitalart courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

How is Work Load Distributed between Husbands and Wives?

“Happy Life; Happy Marriage” Series

The feeling of an unfair distribution of chores in the home causes too many unhappy marriages to count. The August issue of Time Magazine shares some interesting new research on the issue of work distribution. Taking an honest look at the data might just change your perceptions.

The article was written by a wife and working mother who believed she herself was carrying too much of the burden of childcare and chores at home.  Her conviction that she was carrying a heavier load was only validated by her female friends and by books she read. She admits her perception “virtually guaranteed” that she would be be “pissed off” when her husband got home from work each day after she had bathed and fed the kids. Not exactly the setup for the ideal happy home life.

You can imagine her surprise when she found large new studies that show hubbies aren’t the slackers many of us think they are. Before you jump in and say, “You don’t know my husband,” read the full article called “Chore Wars,” or at least continue reading my summary here.

The headline on the cover: “Let it go. Make peace. Men and women, it turns out, work the same amount.”

 I know, I know. My husband doesn’t dust or clean toilets either. But the study counted up the hours men and women work on the job (paid work) and the hours they work in the home (food prep/cleanup, housework, and child care). Instead of lamenting why men don’t chip in more at home, researchers set out to determine just how men and women allocated their time instead of assuming men were just jerks. By isolating only who does more housework, researchers had been neglecting to remember that families needed to earn money as well. They found men were increasingly spending more hours at work.

The time analysis concluded that men and women with full-time jobs have almost equal total workloads, with or without kids under age 18. The largest discrepancy is when the kids are under 6, moms put in an average of five more hours a week than dads.  The longer a wife stays employed, the more her husband is likely to pitch in at home, says the research. In addition, the older the children get, the less child care time is required, and the more free time goes up for moms.

Stay-at-home mothers benefited even more than working moms, as husbands have increased the amount of time on active parenting as a result of cultural shifts.

Men have tripled the amount of domestic help since 1965, while having few role models from their own fathers on how to be an active father and a domestic helper while still bringing home the bacon. (Let this be a lesson that we all need to teach our sons how to be good future husbands!)

Ironically, the couples who split paid and unpaid work the most evenly were often parents who are blue collar workers and have no flexibility in work hours. Couples who were more flexible tended to have men who put more hours in at work and women who reduced their hours and picked up more slack at home.

Before I let the men off the hook, I think the easiest way to make a wife feel better about the marriage is to help out more in the home. It’s also likely to lead to a healthier sex life, as your wife won’t be carrying around so much resentment. So, if you can do more at home, or if you’re not pulling your weight, you won’t get my sympathy. If you’re not sure what to do, just ask.

But I have to agree that after evaluating the data, many wives may just have to cut some slack to their hardworking men. We also have to realize there are other solutions to housework, such as delegating some chores to children, hiring help (for lawn care, cleaning or child care), and not having unrealistically high expectations. We also need to ask for specific help rather than complain that “no one helps out.” Also, remember the post about dividing the jobs according to who is most efficient and most enjoys (or tolerates) them.

In the next post, I’ll provide a key solution for busy moms and wives who feel they are just not getting the opportunity to relax and recharge.  Monday, I’ll address the unique pressures that researchers say married fathers are facing in today’s climate. I’d like to hear if you agree or not.

For now, I think the message to us all is that bickering about who does what isn’t helping us build marital unity, and we all know it. So, I have to agree with Time that we need to “let it go” and “make peace.”

Related Link:
Splitting Chores 50-50 with Spouse is Recipe for Disaster

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com by Andrey Kiselev