You have abdicated. You have spent years letting your children run over you. You have spent years letting your wife run over you.
You have defaulted to the default. No vision. No drive. Just a hunk of flesh who earns a paycheck then lays on the couch watching TV. You never stand up to your wife. You let your kids disrespect you.
But you are ready to change.
You are a husband and a father. You have been invested with real authority and you don’t want to squander it anymore.
You want to change.
You want to lead. Like you are supposed to.
So what do you do?
- Repent – recognize you have been failing. Confess to your friend, pastor, mentor, whatever. And confess to God.
- Apologize – to your wife and your children. Be clear about what you are apologizing for. Don’t leave any room for doubt. You are sorry for your abdication and apathy. Tell them you will do better.
- Lead – at some point in the near future, take the initiative, make a decision and (this is important) do not back down no matter what.
Let’s expand on that final point. As soon as you try to reclaim your authority and lead, your family will try to sabotage you.
They will not do this out of spite but just because you are upsetting the status quo and the status quo likes to remain exactly how it is. You must push through.
Start with something small you feel is important.
Let’s say your kids have been tired lately and you haven’t been able to spend much time with your wife.
So you say, “The kids will be in bed by 9:30.”
Do not deviate from this. There will be pressure. Your kids will delay. Even your wife might make excuses.
If your kids are not in bed by that time, you need to discipline them.
If your wife tries to make an excuse, like “I said they could watch a movie tonight,” tell her that she should not have promised that. She knew the rule. Ask her to apologize to the kids for making a promise she couldn’t keep.
Do. Not. Give. In. This is so critically important.
At some point, your wife will probably use her emotions against you. She will cry. She might pull back and be withdrawn. She will make you feel like a bully.
This is also why you need to start small. You don’t want to enforce something so rigid that you are seen as a tyrant. Make it something simple and easy to obey.
It needs to be something small enough so that, if your wife cries or goes hysterical, you know 100% that she is over-reacting. Something so small that if your kids disobey, you know they did it out of disrespect or laziness, and not because they crumbled under the weight of a new, overbearing standard.
You need to reclaim your authority a little bit at a time. That means reclaiming trust. Once they trust you more, you can start branching out into bigger things.
Again, I’ll repeat. Do not give in.
Months later, after the rule has been solidified, you can start granting some exceptions. But this is a privilege you can take advantage of only after you have shown your willingness to put your foot down.
Some other examples of small things to start with:
- No phones at the table during dinner time.
- We read together as a family starting at 9:00.
- Rooms will be clean before watching TV or playing video games.