Family Roles, Relationships and Respect
Some of the key components of effective parenting is understanding each parent's role in the household, their relationship with the children and, the mutual respect between all of them.
Establishing, understanding and agreeing on how the house functions is essential for not only the parents but the children. What is the role of the husband/father - which areas does he have primacy over, when does he have final decision authority and is it commonly understood? Similarly, where does the wife/mother fit in? What does she run, what aspects does she support and which does she lead? This should be all inclusive, either explicitly or implicitly. Areas include money manager, primary provider, internal to home decisions, distribution of chores, cooking, cleaning and disciplining the kids, just to name some. If uncertain, it should be discussed so that both parents are clear.
When the roles are clear, it enables clarity in relationship definition. Same gender and cross gender parenting parameters are equally important, in my opinion. I raised girls, so my wife had a clear role in teaching them how to be women as I simply am not equipped to do what she can, whether physically, emotionally or in dealing with circumstances that have a unique female angle. So, I had to know where I fit into that equation. Once known, I had to own. Aspects such as the male perspective on sex/relationships, objective and analytical thinking, deliberate planning for long-term goals, giving male views of women in professional settings as well as teaching them how to drive were for me to work in. The roles of the parents are important, but the role of the children also needs to be understood.
We had two kids, and we made it clear the oldest is expected to act like the eldest, and the youngest defers to the oldest in absence of us. That they be friends, have each other’s back and of course, recognize that the parents make decisions and run the house.
Acknowledging roles should be underpinned by respecting each other. It starts with everyone respecting themselves so they recognize what respecting others means. I have to respect my wife, and demonstrate that respect in how I treat her, by including her in decisions, openly discussing subjects that affect the family and being faithful. And that treatment has to be reciprocated by my wife. Lastly, defining what respecting our children means. Listening, disciplining and general interaction based on age and maturity. This was more of a definition and expectation drill but was underpinned with the basic principle of not compromising their mental, physical or emotional well-being in any circumstance. As an evolving adult-child relationship, this helped guide our "respect level" towards them both when young and older.