Friday, October 30, 2009

Maintaining Authority When Dad is Away - Part 1

Many families are turning to the military and to over-the-road truck driving as a means of Dad making a decent income. However, both of these occupations can create havoc when trying to establish and maintain proper spheres of authority when the head of the home has to be gone for extended periods of time.

In fact, some mothers say they feel like a single parent when their husbands are gone so long. Yet, establishing the father as the authority in the home will shelter a mother from being a single parent. If a mother ever feels this way, it is most likely because Dad has not been included in or has not been active enough in the parenting process. That shield of authority -- or umbrella of protection, as it is often referred to -- is missing, leaving Mom feeling very vulnerable and inadequate for the job. The dilemma is how to establish and maintain the two-parent authority structure when the man in charge is missing for long periods of prime parenting time.

I would suggest, first of all, that Mom and Dad sit down alone together -- without distractions -- and talk over the biblical spheres of family authority. Christ is the head of the husband/father; the husband/father is the head of the wife; and the wife/mother is the head over the children under her husband's authority; and, as the older children mature and are able to handle it, they may also be called upon at times to step in as authorities over the younger children under their parents' authority.[1] It's like the chain of command in the military or in a large corporation. The little guys are on the bottom of the chain and are accountable both to those directly above them and to all who are over them.

According to Scripture, the father has the final say over family law even in his absence. When Dad's not home, Mom is still responsible for executing his will over the parenting of the children. Though it is true she must make the day-to-day decisions regarding the children's behavior, if she has been discussing parenting issues with her husband, she will be less inclined to feel as though she is on her own and will be better prepared to parent as they have agreed even when he is away for many days or months.

[1] I Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23; 6:1-4; Colosians 3:18-21; Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; Genesis 4:7; notice Reuben's responsibility over his brothers in Genesis 37-42.

Note: Continue to Maintaining Authority When Dad is Away - Part 2