Traditional representations of marriage and family put the man at the head of the household; not to mention the head of the table. As the wife, you would be second in command, behind your husband, with your children following your wife. But when it comes to the individual roles and the influence each member has within your family dynamic, this patriarchal view can sometimes push things out of perspective. Both cultural and religious societies can steer a husband and father into believing that he has strict control over his family — even as far as determining his family’s behavior, thoughts, feelings and values. But whatever scripture your family follows, a household run as a dictatorship by either parent is one spearheaded by a leader that has forgotten his own role in the family.
Head of the household
You are not the head of your household. Your higher power is. The same goes for your spouse. It's important to understand that neither partner is here to serve the spouse. You are both here to serve God. You both walk down your individual paths as partners in life. You are incarnated as companions with the intended purpose of continuing or completing your spiritual journey together, side by side. Not one in front of or above the other. Ruling your home with an iron fist does not make a man. Nor does bowing down to the desires of any person make a woman. The guidelines of your life and family are captured in the teachings and texts of your faith. Follow those tenets as best you can to serve the good of you, your spouse and your family equally.
Renewal of vows
Your wedding vows may have had you pledge to “honor and obey.” But who exactly are you honoring and obeying? And how does this honor and obedience manifest themselves? Your vows are not just promises made one day in your life to another person. They are evolving, daily aspirations that you wish to accomplish with your entire family. Remember and renew what these vows are, and mean to you. If respect, compassion and love are tenets of your faith, live by them, and let them dictate how your house is run.
As the perceived “head of the household” you may feel obligated, and within your rights, to correct indications of straying from the spiritual principles you expect your family to follow. While observing your spouse or children’s behavior and thought process is a natural part of raising a family, how you react to discouraging signs is the true mark of a leader. And separates teachers from tyrants.
If you take issue with your spouse, be careful to refrain from acting as his or her parent. Hopefully, your spouse has developed a full and profound relationship with God and can determine what is diverting his or her attention away from the best interest of the family. With that being said, your first priority is to connect with your faith and seek divine guidance before attempting to dole out advice, or bark commands. Ask how you can address the issues in a tone and spirit that inspires highest good within your family, not how you can push your agenda and get them to behave how you think they should.
Addressing issues you foresee in your children’s behavior is a bit of a different challenge. It can be very easy to slip over the line from guidance to directing, and management. You can take the lead when it comes to your child’s spiritual education, at least to begin with. But eventually you will find yourself facing questions and obstacles that you will need to seek guidance on yourself. Just as “because I said so” rarely satisfies a child’s inquisitive and sometimes under-stimulated intellect, “because God says so” may leave your kids in the void of quandary and confusion. Not to mention frustration. Work through spiritual issues with your children. Use the messages and teachings to impart critical thinking skills and deep faith at the same time. Giving them the tools to build their own spiritual foundation from the basic framework all the way up to completeness will help them build a bridge from “do what you’re told” to “do what you feel in your heart.”
The financial and domestic duties were divided comparably in my childhood home. No voice was overbearing, and no expectations were too great for myself and my siblings to achieve. Likewise, my mother took our inquiries under consideration and followed the same household guidelines as those set up for us children. I was allowed to be myself, ask questions, change and grow, and create a relationship with God on my terms. And my mother knew early on that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being a spiritual leader and provider of wisdom, comfort and love shows your worth so much more than financial command and unchallenged authority. Domination does not make a man. Submission does not make a woman. You are all here as a part of a family. Whether this is a nuclear family, spiritual family of soul mates, or one human family, you have your roles to fulfill and purpose to achieve. And this purpose begins with filling your heart with the essence of everything that is and ever will be. Fill your life with joy, light, love and faith. When you do this, the rest of the puzzle falls into place without you forcing the pieces. Enjoy your family, and let the Divine lead.