Being a mom is a tough job, but I think we get a lot of encouragement.
There are countless articles circulating online as well as books and greeting cards that uplift moms, validate what we do, and joke about how tough it is to raise kids.
On Mother’s Day I saw dozens of pictures on Facebook of happy kids surprising their moms and grandmothers with flowers and heartfelt handmade gifts.
And for sure, I think we moms deserve it—because we do work hard.
But do you see many people honoring dads like that? In my observation, not so much. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Sure, dads get a little extra love on Father’s Day, but that’s definitely the exception, not the rule.
If you do a quick search of “dad memes” on Google, most of the results are vulgar and demeaning. Or think about a lot of popular shows, movies, and TV commercials.
Dads are frequently portrayed as:
- Lazy—they lounge around watching TV while moms do all the hard work.
- Stupid—they don’t know how to cook a meal or start a load of laundry.
- Immature—they teach the kids dirty jokes or encourage dangerous stunts.
- Neglectful—when they’re in charge, the kids go unsupervised.
- Absent—they’ve abandoned the family entirely.
Perhaps because our culture is steeped in this attitude, it has rubbed off on me. I have to catch myself when I’m tempted to roll my eyes about my husband’s weekend hobbies or sense of humor, or how he can’t read my mind (how dare he not).
And then we wonder why kids are so disrespectful towards authority.
Yet research shows that fathers’ engagement plays a critical role in childhood development.
This shouldn’t be surprising to Christians, as the Bible is quite instructive on masculinity and fatherhood, both explicitly and through example.
In our home, we teach our kids the importance of honoring their parents as instructed in Ephesians 6:2, as well as the Ten Commandments and elsewhere. Practically speaking, that means we have to deliberately cultivate a family culture with this value.
If you’re tired of the anti-man sentiment out there, here are two simple but powerful principles that will help you build a family culture that honors dads instead of tearing them down.
1. Give Dads Space To Lead the Family
In a lot of homes, the kids are in charge. Their needs and desires come first; they dictate schedules, meals and entertainment. It’s an easy trap for moms to fall into because we love them and want what’s best for them, but this arrangement doesn’t help anybody.
In other homes, the mom is in charge, even when a father is present. While this is better, it doesn’t really leave any place for the dad to stand. He becomes the kids’ playmate rather than an authority figure—or worse, he finds a lot of reasons to avoid being home at all.
In our home, we follow Daddy’s lead (in partnership with mine).
There are little ways we reinforce this: He gets to sit at the head of the table, in the comfy recliner and in the driver’s seat of the car when we’re all together. He leads the family in prayer at meals and family devotionals.
While I’m usually the one responding to discipline issues, the buck ultimately stops with him. You’re in trouble when Mom raises her eyebrows, but you’re in big, big trouble when you have to have “a talk” with Dad about it.
I know this might touch a nerve with some people. I’m not saying you should enable an authoritative or abusive man or be a doormat.
I am saying, in the spirit of Ephesians 5:22–33, that there’s value in trusting your husband and giving him space to lead, however that looks in your home.
It’s up to him to decide how to lead, but when you trust him as his wife, you set the example for your kids. (And hopefully everyone in the home will have the opportunity to provide honest, respectful feedback when appropriate).
Not only does letting your husband lead honor him, but a healthy leadership dynamic in your home provides the kids with security and sets the groundwork for their relationships with authority figures as they get older. They like to know who’s in charge, and it shouldn’t be them.
2. Don’t Make Dads’ Needs an Afterthought
Not long ago, I had three kids ages four and under. It was the most demanding, exhausting time of my life.
While we moms of littles often lament that our own needs come last, we often forget that there’s another parent in the home who’s feeling quite drained too.
It’s natural as a mom to put all of your energy towards taking care of the kids, while their father gets the leftovers (or nothing at all). I remember resenting the fact that my husband had needs too. I had already given away all the love I had to offer for a day, and then when I fell into bed at night he wanted to do what???
This attitude not only hurts your marriage, but it can affect the dynamic of your whole home.
(For more on how I’ve learned to change my attitude towards my husband, see Are You Your Husband’s Biggest Fan?)
Moms need to lead kids in going the extra mile in making Dad feel like a million bucks from time to time. His needs should not be an afterthought. I used the example meeting your husband’s needs in the bedroom above, which the kids don’t need to know about, but you can demonstrate your love in many other ways that the kids can participate in.
A little bit can go a long way. You know your husband best, so do what he likes. In the day to day, my husband definitely notices if we prepare some of his favorite food. Holidays are an opportunity to step it up a bit. My kids also love to play games with him, so some gifts they have picked out have included a baseball mitt and family board games. Making cards and crafts can be super easy but thoughtful.
If you’re looking for Father’s Day inspiration, I love these ideas to make Dad king for the day, which include making a photo album, going on surprise outings and creating a home news broadcast about everything the kids love about Dad.
Whatever you do, it should show that Dad is a highly valued and honored member of the family, rather than an afterthought.
Not just on Father’s Day, which is coming up soon, but every day of the year.
Is honoring dad an important piece of your family culture? If not, what do you think could change?