Fathers Provide

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In the proclamation on the family, it states in part that “fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” This is not a new idea; in fact, it’s an idea that has been taught in the church for many years. But there is one thing else the proclamation said that I had not seen.

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùmothers and fathers?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùwill be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The first quote seems to indicate that it is the man’s responsibility to provide for his family’s needs. It also is open to interpretation that those are his only responsibilities. This seems to be a popular interpretation of lazy husbands and chauvinists.

The second quote, however, seems to indicate that providing for the needs of one’s family falls under the responsibilities of both the mother and the father. It also indicates in other places of the proclamation that mothers and fathers “are obligated to help one another as equal partners” in these responsibilities.

Interestingly enough, this is precisely what we discussed in elders quorum yesterday. The instructor was teaching a lesson on what it means to be a good husband and father, and there was some discussion on what it means to provide. A traditional definition for providing is to out and get a job in order for the family to have money to buy food and clothes and have a place to live. What we discussed, however, is that providing entails much more than that.

For example, as fathers, we should provide good health for our children. One way this could be accomplished is ensuring that they have a clean environment to live; that the house is free of clutter, surfaces are kept free of disease-causing bacteria, and garbage is disposed of properly. Another way it could be accomplished is ensuring that our families eat healthy meals that include a variety of foods that meet their nutritional needs; lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, wholesome sources of protein, and so on.

These of course point to the fact that husbands and fathers should do more in he home. Actually, one other thought that was brought up in the class was that men should be help meets for their wives. If men come home from their full-time job without doing any additional work, and their wives are end up having 12-hour work days, then they are hardly being equal partners in their responsibilities.

I think, based on my own observations, that men today are contributing more toward non-career responsibilities in the home than their fathers and grandfathers did, but I am not sure that we can say men and women are equal in responsibilities in the home today. It may be one day, but I think, in Western societies at least, there are some traditions to overcome first.

Any ideas on how to encourage husbands to do more around the home? As a husband, what have you found useful in taking on more home responsibilities? What can we do as a church to completely move the job sharing to full equality?

26 thoughts on “Fathers Provide

  1. ok well I am neither a man nor a husband but last week the Stake called a special Priesthood leadership meeting without saying what it was about. They discussed this very topic. From what I gathered from your dad and brother in law, men are not being helpful, non supportive of wives callings, being disrespectful, not teaching good examples to their children on how to treat women; how they are not providing spiritually for their families that it wasn’t enough to just bring home the bacon. It went on for 2 hours.

    I asked if they gave ideas on what to do and they said not really… that the men obviously already knew what had to be done they just had to pull up their socks and just do it. They were told to actually listen to their wives. They said it did not matter whether their wife had a full time career outside the home or a full time career at home that when they got home they had better be doing what was to be done.

    They did get told that they would have to account for their stewardship on judgement day and as well that it was a sad state of affairs when families on home teaching routes were treating with treats and special blessings when one was ill but on the other hand they had children at home who needed blessings. They ended by asking when it was the last time that any of the fathers had given their family members a blessing of comfort just because it was the right thing to do.

    I know this doesn’t really answer your question but it was just coincidental that your PH lesson was on the same thing sort of as the Stake PH meeting here.

  2. Responsibilities of fathers as a providor of what? Here are few things that come to mind real fast:

    1) Income so that the family can have substance
    2) Positive male role model.
    3) Priesthood Leader.
    4) Transportation
    5) Schooling
    6) Boy Scout Leader
    7) Extra-curricular activity coach.
    8) Responsible citizen
    9) Entertainment
    10) Faithful Husband

    Just last week I had attended the following out of duty to my children – Sunday Services, FHE, Boy Scouts, HS Band Booster Club, Soccer Game, Stake Leadership Mtg, Movie, Nature hike trail guide, date with wife and wrote letters to Congressmen to implement better laws to regulate children’s access to Porn.

    All of this was as a direct basis of my interpretation of the Family Proclamation.

  3. Those are tough questions Kim. Things have always been pretty balanced in my home partly due to the fact that we both were attending university full time when our first child came. Some men I’ve noticed are very prideful(sexist) when it comes to household work. I’d hope that the words of our leaders and my own example can make some difference. Then again, I have flexible hours and a pretty light work day, so I don’t want to judge those who have things worse. I suppose teaching that we’ll all be held accountable for our leadership in the home would suffice.

  4. Kim,

    I’m glad my lesson made you think. I hope it had the same effect on the others in the quorum.

    One Question though:

    You said, “I am not sure that we can say men and women are equal in responsibilities in the home today.”

    Is that the goal? Should the responsibilites in the home be divided 50/50? Though I would NEVER say that husbands should not help out around the house, is it realistic to have equal in-home responsibilities when the husband is at work 40 hours/week?

  5. and where is the wife Mike? Are you suggesting that if the husband is at “work” for 40 hours and the wife is a stay at home mom “not” at work for 40 hours then it’s not realistic the husband work as hard when he gets home?

  6. Sally, define ‘stay at home mom’ and we might begin to have a conversation.

    Although one is busy, it does not always mean that one is contributing to the welfare of the home.

    If there are no children involved, or the children are all in school, is your outrage diminished?

    There are so many different ways for couples to contribute, I think the whole 50-50 thing may not work for all families.

  7. Good point, Mike. I guess then the 50/50 share would apply to the time when they are both home. After all, if a woman spends 40 hours per week working at home, by default she will always do more than the man.

  8. A wife at home works hard, let me tell you. Stay at home, well my definition means you don’t HAVE to be somewhere else constantly. Though SAHM really is a phrase that doesn’t apply to most mothers.

    Let me see, Mike, consider this. Yes, a husband (or wife) at work 40 hours a week. But then there is mum (or dad) at home with the chldren, doing housework, laundry (constantly), running errands, grocery shopping, taking children to appointments, events, etc etc, in my case (and many others) homeschooling (and yep that sure takes work), doing visiting teaching, fulfilling a calling. I can go on and on and on and on and on. The only thing is, this job doesn’t stop when the clock hits 5pm (or so). It continues, because meals need to be made (oh yes let’s add that to the daily list), children fed, bathed and into bed, etc. etc. Work doesn’t finish. Literally it doesn’t, until everyone is in bed, and even then it can continue on, of course. My day starts at 5 am and ends at about 11pm. Every day. Now you could argue I don’t HAVE to get up at 5 am. True, I don’t. But that’s the only time I get to workout, and I have to workout, for me. I love Saturdays because I can sleep in until 7am sometimes.

    I am not getting on your case, truly. Just explaining, that just because someone stays home, doesn’t mean it isn’t a busy work day/work week. If I were to be paid for all I do, I would be a millionaire. Would’t you, Mum?

  9. Yes you are right though, Mike, it would be hard for a husband to split it equally when being gone, but then there are ways around it….

    For example, for quite awhile, Kim was making msot of the suppers, even though he was at work all day. That really did help me out.

  10. Actually, Mike, on further thought, it is technically possible for a man to put an equal amount of time to housework as a woman if he spent every evening and nearly the entire weekend in house work.

    For example, let’s say he spent five hours per week night (5-10) for a total of 2 hours and then 15 more hours spread through Saturday and Sunday.

    That also assumes that the woman will do nothing each weeknight and during the weekend.

  11. There are certain tasks in the home where I know if I don’t do them they simply will not get done. My wife may feel the same way about other things. Unfortunately this type of default chore evolution is pretty common. Not an ideal way to go about getting your spouse to do something.

  12. You go girl!! I would add to your list Mary on what a so called stay at home mom does with her spare time. I am at home, although I am a Mum I do not have children living at home but I still clean the house, do laundry, make bread, iron, sew, make lunches, make hubby’s breakfast every morning, clean up after him, file most of his work papers, do his computer online work for his job and calling (at least the non cofidential stuff); gardening, spending time with my children, picking up grandkids from school, ministering visits every week not counting my visiting teaching or the hours I spend each week on my calling.

    I still iron all my husbands shirts and dress pants, make his dinner every day, grocery shopping, regular shopping. I don’t have access to a car during the day so have to walk everywhere I go or most places I go unless it is more then 10 miles then I will bus it. I work out every day to take care of myself for my mental and physical health.

    Up to 3 years ago I worked a very full time very demanding OUTSIDE the home job and on top of the list above I added a minimum of 10 hours a day to that not counting 1-2 hours commute each day.

    My husband many many years ago when he used to be a neanthertal, made the mistake of saying he could run the house better then I could (I was working a part time job and going to school full time at a University). He was in between contracts at the moment and I said go for it buddy!! We had 5 children under the age of 10 at the time. The first day the house was spotless, laundry done, dinner was hot and on the table etc.. by the 3rd day he was petering out .. by the end of the first week I walked in the door to hear him telling the kids ” I just washed that kitchen floor now look at the mess just wait till mom gets home and sees this mess”!

    I just smiled, went up to him and asked “have a hard day my love”? He told me to be quiet and that he surrendered. 25 years later he has never said anything like that again and even though he works his so called 50-60 hours a week at his job he more then pulls his weight around here.

    Would I say it was 50-50? Nope.. our marriage is not about 50-50 its about 100-100. This way when one of us is down for the count for whatever reason, there is still 100% going into the relationship. He comes home from work and no matter how tired he is he still cleans up from dinner and tidies up from whatever needs to be done. On weekends he vaccumms and does the bathrooms (2 things I no longer can do). He wakes up many times at night during the week to massage cramping muscles and to get dressed to go walking outside with me at 3 am cause that is the only thing that will releive my cramping at times.

    When people hear what he does they say how spoilt I am and he just says nope he is the one that is spoilt. We just smile at each other. Most people don’t understand our 100-100% philosophy.

  13. are you saying you aren’t worth it Mary? Man did you feel that shaking??? Oh wait that was me clipping you one! Are your children not worth you being a more relaxed mum? You get that skinny butt of yours to that spa!

  14. “I would add to your list Mary on what a so called stay at home mom does with her spare time. I am at home, although I am a Mum I do not have children living at home but I still clean the house, do laundry, make bread, iron, sew, make lunches, make hubby’s breakfast every morning, clean up after him, file most of his work papers, do his computer online work for his job and calling (at least the non cofidential stuff); gardening, spending time with my children, picking up grandkids from school, ministering visits every week not counting my visiting teaching or the hours I spend each week on my calling.”

    That’s right, it never ends does it?

    Mum, oh no, I am not saying I am not worth it. There are just so many other things that need doing. lol Well, ok, but I do go to the gym and that is really me time, it truly is. :)

  15. “our marriage is not about 50-50 its about 100-100”

    We weren’t talking about marriage, we were talking about housework, and it is impossible for two people to each do 100% of the housework. That being said, it’s a good thing you both put 100% into your marriage.

  16. I should clarify.

    I didn’t say that mothers don’t do anything or that doing housework and raising children is easy. I admire mothers and acknowledge that stay-at-home moms have one of the most demanding jobs in the world.

    I also didn’t say that husbands shouldn’t help out with the kids or the chores. A father would have to be incredibly lazy and insensitive to come home from work at 5 every day and demand that dinner be ready in time for Monday Night Football.

    All I said was that it is probably unrealistic to expect housework and child raising to be split 50/50. A father can’t be expected to do half of the dishes, half of the laundry, half of the cooking, half of the diaper changing, etc while still at work 40 hours/week.

    Kim made a good point that the house work SHOULD be split equally for all hours that BOTH parents are at home. I can agree with that.

    My first child is due in 4 more days and I don’t expect my wife to do all of the work around here by herself. I plan on helping out as much as possible when I am home.

  17. I understand it was about housework not marraige but my point is if a husband isn’t putting his so called fair share into the keeping of a home then he isn’t putting in his fair share into his marriage. There is no line seperating the two.

  18. Mike

    Yes I know you weren’t saying that. At first I thought so, and then I actually READ it properly, lol. I have a tendency to scan when reading online. But I still said the stuff I did, because there are people who think that way and well, you know. I am quite sure you will be a wonderful help with your baby.

    I also wanted to add that Kim is such a wonderful help and he does so much here, I have nothing at all to complain about. The only thing he doesn’t do is nurse the baby, but that’s only because he can’t :) Otherwise he does literally everything. He supports me fully going to the gym each and every morning and if it wasn’t for him, I couldn’t. He cleans, he cooks (better than me) he irons (actually I don’t iron his clothes because he doens’t like how I do it). He does housework and I do housework, but he also does yard work and I DON’T do yardwork. My excuse is, he enjoys it and I don’t, lol. He is adored by all his children because he plays with them and does so much with them and they think he is the best. And they are right. He is wonderful with babies, his own and others! Mike if you ever want advice on being a new father, ask Kim all about it. He has been there literally, from the start (first one to touch them!) and from their births (well even before their births) he is always there. Anyway, I shoudl stop gushing and get supper started.

  19. “He supports me fully going to the gym each and every morning and if it wasn’t for him, I couldn’t”

    Yeah, because it’s so hard for me to sleep an extra hour.

  20. I am sure you will make a GREAT dad Mike.. keep us posted on the birth of your new baby :)

  21. You know, forget the housework, it’s hard enough just BEING at home. Constant demands on your attention, constant needs to be met, not even a moment to think. At least that’s what it feels like most days. I work part-time, and the hours I spend in my office working are FAR more restful than the time I spend with my kids, whether I’m scrubbing the floor (not likely) or just chasing the kids around the house trying to keep them from drinking water out of the toilet bowl. When my DH gets home from work, I often escape back to my home office for an hour of work just so that I can maintain my sanity. Perhaps it will be better when they are not 4, 3, and almost 2. We love them to pieces, but they are exhausting and someone is always trying to escape out the front door, color on something inappropriate, or ingest something dangerous.

    Luckily, my husband agrees with me that being with the children (in whatever capacity) is much harder than working, and would never dare to act like my day hasn’t been just as exhausting as his, frequently more so, mentally. Anyway, long story short, we share almost all of the housekeeping duties. I keep the house from burning down during the day, and we clean it together (or not) in the evening.

    I left for three days to attend a conference last week, leaving DH home alone with the kids. My husband was so extremely happy to see me when I arrived home from the airport – I’ve never felt so loved. I took a look at the exhaustion on his face and sent him off to our room for some time away from the kids.

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