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?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùmothers and fathers?¢‚Ç¨‚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?