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I’ve noticed a trend among many men within my social circles that pains me. These men have their act together when it comes to taking care of business at work, yet fail to lead at home, leaving it in virtual shambles.
Their children don’t respect them and their wives carry a burden of resentment for the fact that they have to fill the void left in the wake of their husbands failing to lead. The office becomes a place for the man to escape from the turbidity of a home he’s allowed to spiral into chaos.
It’s reasonable to extrapolate the microcosm that consists of the men within my purview of observance as being ubiquitous on a macro scale within western society.
This post is intended to serve as a motivational reminder of where our priorities ought to lie. We must resist the temptation to fall into the trap of being an assertive leader for the company that employs us, while failing to deliver the masculine leadership our family depends on us to provide for them at home.
Those in Our Homes Need Us to Lead More Than Those at the Office
The genesis of the “boss at work and servant at home” mentality can often be traced back to men making the grave mistake of believing they’ve fulfilled their familial obligations upon leaving work each day.
Don’t get me wrong. Earning a living to provide for the needs of our families is a virtuous calling we have as men – and it’s incredibly fulfilling. It’s also vastly important for the short and long-term health and security of those depending upon our provisioning. But let’s not kid ourselves, guys. Meeting the basic needs of our wives and children – or even providing them with material luxuries – is the bare minimum of our responsibilities to them as husbands and fathers.
We must also come to terms with the realization that how we go about earning a living for our families is usually hidden from them. Our wives don’t see us leading and asserting ourselves in the workplace. Our kids don’t witness the integrity and work ethic we uncompromisingly put forth in our daily nine-to-five grinds. What they see is who we are at home after we’ve left the demands of corporate America.
The positive qualities we exhibit at work, and which will serve our children well to adopt, will only rub off on them if we also exhibit them in the home.
Work Stressors are Not an Excuse for Failing to Lead at Home
The jobs of many men require a level of mental and/or physical energy that can leave us feeling exhausted when it’s time to head home to the family. So it’s understandable that the last thing we may feel like doing is to continue the grind of bearing the responsibility of leadership at home. It’s easy to withdraw if we’re not intentional about reminding ourselves that our families depend on our commitment to fight for them.
An unnerving subset of men prove by their actions that they’re nowhere near as committed to fighting for the success of their families as they are to fighting for success in their careers. They spend all day inspiring, designing, collaborating, building rapport, and crafting solutions to enhance the lives of others. Like a switch that’s toggled from on to off these qualities disappear upon entering the doorway of his home where those that desperately need the man of the house to exhibit them are waiting.
Following dad’s apathetic lead the kids zone out with their eyes glued to the screen of a tablet. Mom becomes chronically overstressed taking care of the household duties and filling the void of leadership her husband’s complacency has left in its wake. The kids grow to have the same piss poor standards as their peers also growing up in homes with absent or uninvolved fathers.
The bedroom becomes a dark corner of the home where the wife and husband go to lie in quiet desperation wondering where the fire they once had for each other has gone. The husband fails to realize that the sexual pilot light has been extinguished by his failure to provide the masculine leadership his home needs from him – and that it’s his responsibility to reignite it.
Our wives desire us to lead the family. Our children need us to hold them to superior standards. Our sons need to be shown how to stand up to life’s challenges with irrational confidence and strategically assert themselves when necessary. Our daughters need us to exemplify what it is to be masculine so that they will naturally choose to pair with a high value husband that exhibits the same masculine qualities that will one day bless her home and marriage.
The family man’s work doesn’t end when he leaves his day job. For those of us carrying the burdening conviction to build a family name with a reputation of virtue, excellence and integrity, it’s only just beginning.
Shed the Stress Before Getting Home
My work as an automation engineering project manager regularly puts me in high stress situations. Unreasonable customers, discontented team members, budget overruns, missed deadlines, onerous procedural requirements, unproductive meetings, and potential safety concerns are just some of the possible stressors I might encounter during a normal workday.
My work isn’t unique in this. Every occupation comes with its own avenues of testing a man’s patience. Nevertheless, the stress of our jobs should be ours alone to bear. We mustn’t allow it to extend its destructive tentacles to the rest of our family.
Our wives and children have their own stresses to cope with. They don’t need us coming home from a stressful day at the office and unloading our stresses on them as well. Leave that noise at work. Or at least use your commute home to shed whatever stress you’re carrying from the office. It’ll be waiting for you when you get back. There’s no sense in allowing it to infiltrate your most precious relationships at home.
Understand, your wife and kids don’t care how hard your workday was. Sulking will only be viewed as weakness by them, even if they’re initially sympathetic. Their seeing you negatively affected by circumstances will set off a psychological reaction of unsettledness in your ability to lead, protect, and provide for the emotional needs of the family.
As the masculine head of the home, they need you to be positive, confident and emotionally strong for them. This provides them with a healthy sense of security. But it can only be projected from a confident, masculine man that maintains control over his emotions.
Carrying worry or self pity home with you from work is a detriment to your family. It will erode their confidence in your ability to lead them. As long as you’re projecting failure or lack of control in your own life they’ll logically conclude they can’t trust you to lead them, either. Can you blame them?
Invest in Your Family Using Your Most Valuable Commodity
All that we provide our families as men finds its ultimate source in how we choose to invest our most valuable commodity: time. Unlike other resources, time can’t be bought or bartered for. The time available to us is stripped from us with every fleeting second. Its relentless, ongoing dissipation can’t be stopped.
Our children will continue to grow and mature, becoming a little less impressionable by our parental influence as each day passes. How sad it is that so many fathers (and mothers) take for granted the limited opportunity they have to positively shape their children during their most formative years.
It’s been said that the way a person spends their money is a window into their soul because what a man chooses to spend his earnings on indicates what he values most in this life. The same axiom holds true when it comes to the ways a man utilizes his time.
Children are observant of this truth. They instinctively make the connection when observing a parent that spends less time investing in them as they invest in cheering on their favorite sports team through a high definition digital image. The only logical deduction they can make is that dad cares less for them than whatever else he chooses to spend his time engaged in.
He wouldn’t consider giving anything less than the investment of time expected by his employer. The potential consequences of doing so – up to and including loss of employment – are deemed too great. Ironically, today’s career-minded man is often content to ignore the consequences of depriving his family of the time he has available to invest in them and lead them.
It’s admirable to be a leader at work. But we must never forget to also be one at home.
– Craig James