Really, who’s the boss?

who's the bossA little over a month ago, I read this great article called Who’s the Boss from Come Over For Coffee about who should be in charge of our homes.  It made me think – hard.

Around the same time, I overheard a conversation that talked about how our children’s view of God is based (to a large extent) on their perception of their father.  The person talking went on to say that how the mom treats the dad is equally important.

These two ideas collided in my head and have been rattling around for a month.

I think I’ve figure out why.

For kids, daddy and God are the ultimate authority figures.

Nothing new there.  Lots of books written on the subject.  Lots of calls to authentic fatherhood.  Since I am woefully inadequate to discuss the subject, I’ll refer you to Focus on the Family and a great Father’s Day piece on how to be a good dad.

My unseen speaker (they were in the booth behind me, talking VERY loudly.  I couldn’t help but hear them) started off with

Person 1: You know how as a kid, you thought your Dad was right up there with God?

Person 2: Yeah… he knew everything, he could fix anything, and nothing could hurt him

Person 1: All powerful and god-like to a kid.

Not your standard coffee shop talk.

For kids, how mom reacts to dad matters.

Here’s where it got real for me.  If (according to the conversation I was listening to) Dad = God for a toddler, then Mom = Church.  Huh? This person was saying that how the mom reacts to the dad (or more accurately, how the wife responds to the husband) is a child’s first living model of how we are called to respond to God.

When a wife treats her husband with respect and allows him to lead the household, she is showing her kids how to respond to God’s leadership in their lives.

Person 1: So what about your mom?

Person 2: Oh man, my mom worshiped my dad.  She’d do anything for him.

Worship, did you catch that?  Isn’t that what we’re called to do for God?

Person 1: My mom ruled the roost.  She went behind my dad’s back every chance she got.

Person 2:  I bet that went over well.

Person 1: It was confusing.  I think that’s why I keep trying to go behind God’s back.

Interesting.  There was a long theological and psychological debate that ensued.   I’m not sure who was going to win.  I left before they finished.

Honestly, I’d heard enough.

And I felt like it was wrong to listen in.

So what’s that mean to me?

That’s where Come Over For Coffee’s post came back to my mind.   The whole time I was listening to this conversation, I was thinking “who’s the boss?”

She wrote to remind us that as parents, we are responsible to be in charge of our kids (and not the other way around.)  She said that

I firmly believe that if we don’t teach our children obedience and respect for authority, we are hurting them.

Good stuff.

I put the two together in my head.

Every time I show my kids that my husband is the boss, I’m teaching them a powerful lesson.

When I put my husband first, I show the kids what sacrificial love is like.

When I pick out “daddy’s favorite” something with the kids, I show them how to think of other’s before themselves.

When I openly put his plans in front of my own, I model what it means to surrender to the will of God.

But I’m not a doormat.

Notice I haven’t used the word “submit” or “submissive.”  Those tend to be words I choke on when I try to say them.  I wasn’t raised to be submissive.  I was raised to assert my needs and look after myself.

I have a mind of my own.  I’m more than able to make hard decisions on my own, and I can handle a crisis pretty darn well without calling my husband.

But… I do call him.

When the dishwasher spewed stuff all over the floor, I had him on the phone while I was still mopping up the mess.  I felt better for sharing the burden.    Even though I could manage it on my own, I reached out.

Kind of like so many prayers.

And my kids see that too.

So Really, Who’s the Boss?

Not only are the kids not the boss of our home, I’m not either.

I let my husband take the lead.

But if you asked him, he’ll look you straight in the eye and point up. He’ll say just one word.


And we like it that way.

Now what?

Up until now, I’d kind of skated.  Honestly, I figured that my husband had the whole “shaping the kids view of God” responsibility and that it wasn’t on my shoulders.  It’s not that I didn’t care.  I did.  And I’ve always done my best to help my husband with that.  But I’d never seen my role as wife and mother as having that kind of an impact on my boys.

It’s huge.  It’s heavy.  It’s awesome.

It’s exciting.

But wow… what a different view of motherhood than the one I normally have.

Tell me, how does this match with your view of motherhood?  Is this on your to-do list?  How can it be?


Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. This is so hard for me, hubby does not go to church or even practice his faith, which makes it harder for me to establish this with our son. I try to let him lead, but he continually messes things up and his negativity can sometimes make me mad. I wish we were on the same page with faith, it would make for a stronger family.

    • Karen, I’m so sorry to hear that you and your husband aren’t on the same page. I know that has to be frustrating and add stress to your life. (hugs) God sees your efforts. He will honor and bless you for them. Your son sees your efforts. Even though he seems far too young to understand, he’s still seeing. He sees that you keep trying and that you are doing your best to honor God and do the right thing. Even when it’s imperfect (we’re all imperfect), your son is learning huge (good) lessons from that.

      I wish I had some simple solution for you… but I don’t. All I can do is pray for you and your husband. Just know that you aren’t alone. Ever.

      • I was thinking about this post last night and how I would try harder to make things better between hubby and., Perhaps if I make the changes he will follow suit. Anyway, thinking about your post, I am sure he doesn’t see you as “submissive” he respects you and adores you and you are his equal. By making him feel like a man and in charge of the house, I bet he sees you as the woman who runs it all and without you the house wouldn’t be a home. I hope I am making sense, because I feel so different today and really want to make positive changes in our lives and it may seem silly, but your posts give me so much inspiration.
        karen recently posted..Cheap OrganizationMy Profile

        • 🙂 🙂 🙂
          We get a fresh start every day. So do our husbands.

          I remember when I first was convicted to let my husband be head of the household instead of competing with him for that title. I came home from women’s bible study and told him “You are going to be head of this household if I have to MAKE you.”

          Obviously, that went over… badly…. horribly… After he finished laughing, he said “yeah right” and we got in a huge fight.

          What I learned the hard way was that I had to shut my mouth and just leave him space. Instead of jumping in my with opinion, I’d just let the conversation (or crisis) sit… giving him time to voice his opinion and take the lead. At first that was really hard. He didn’t trust me to not jump all over him, and I didn’t have a huge amount of confidence in what he said. I kept holding my tongue (or at least trying to) and over time, things changed. He began to jump in with both feet and take the lead, and I began to trust him. Once that happened, it was easy. There came the point where he was comfortable enough to say “I want your input” when he was uncertain. I was trusted enough that when I raised a question, it wasn’t perceived as witchy or confrontational. It was just us.. a team… working together to get it right.

          That took us about three years, and it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. We had bumps. I screwed up and over reacted. But in the end, we made it. I kept pausing, and when I found it hard to keep my tongue under control, I’d just start praying. At first, I spent my prayer time telling God everything that I thought was wrong… all the petty reasons I was right and hubby was wrong. I started by telling God how to change my husband. Instead, God changed me.

          I hope today went better for you. And that tomorrow will be even better. Just keep trying. Keep giving him “the pause” and giving it to God.

  2. This is a very interesting perspective…I never really thought about this, in this way. My husband and I have always put out the dictum that we, the parents, are in charge; but we haven’t really put either of us over the other! We are just in charge of different aspects of the household.
    Roshni recently posted..Big mouth MamaMy Profile

    • Roshni, it’s not like I let my husband make all the decision and I just go execute them. We’re partners and for most stuff we divide and conquer just like you do. It lets us take advantage of both our strengths and weaknesses. But I’ve learned over time that letting my husband take the lead just works. It makes him happy to be the leader. It reduces stress on our family because we’re not both fighting to be alpha dog.

      I’m not advocating a “wait on him hand and foot” relationship. That’s not what I’m talking about.

      I make plenty of big decisions without him (and vice versa). For most stuff, we own our area and there’s just a “by the way, we’re doing this” kind of conversation. The whole “submit” thing (I still struggle to use that word) comes into play when we have a major crisis (like the day our air conditioner made a waterfall in the house). If he’s there, my husband takes the lead. If not, I deal with it. He says that knowing I’m not going to argue with him in those moments really does relieve his stress.

      Most of the time, it’s more of a tone than anything else. I won’t tear my hubby down with gossip to other women. I won’t tear him down in front of my kids.

      Obviously, I struggled with this. It took me a MONTH to write this post. It took me until I was 40 until I could say “submit” and “wife” in the same sentence (unless it was an insult). But I’m learning that this model works for us. Until now, I’d never thought about how it impacted my kids.

      Make sense? Or did I just make it worse?

      • Of course you did not make it worse! I never thought that you were a submissive type in any way! Just saying, that the perspective that those two people in the coffee booth gave…I never thought of it that way! I absolutely agree that ‘united we stand as parents in front of our kids’ is the way to go! So, even if I disagree with his decision, I generally try to argue my case away from the kids and if he has made up his mind about a decision, I uphold it! We already had the very interesting discussion about tearing down our husbands in public…never doing that! So, if that makes us seem submissive! So be it! I never cared about labels one way or the other, anyway!!
        Roshni recently posted..Big mouth MamaMy Profile

        • Exactly. 🙂

          It was a unique perspective, and it actually gave more significance to my everyday world (a good thing – laundry doesn’t feel very significant). If I disagree, I let him know… but I do my best to keep it private and respectful.

          If that and not gossiping earns me a submissive label, then so be it. Thanks for THAT perspective.

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