Be clear about your expectations. Communicate them. Explicity.
Do not make assumptions.
Your wife can’t read your mind. Your children can’t read your mind. It is not fair to them for you to assume, and doing so is a recipe for bitterness and resentment.
Good leaders lay out their expectations clearly. In order to be a good father, you must do the same.
I remember one point, early on in homeschooling, where I was getting frustrated with my wife for not waking up early enough and getting the kids started. She should have started school at 9:00 AM, at the latest. For some reason, I thought this was self-evident. That it was a principle written since the foundation of the world, carved in stone, and should have been discerned by any thinking creature.
I was just being lazy.
I was being a terrible leader.
I had literally never verbalized this expectation. I started work at 9:00. Everything else in the house should start at 9:00, too. That was my reasoning.
I was letting bitterness and resentment build up inside of me. Surely, other wives would take initiative. This toxicity kills relationships, and it filled the house like smoke.
Thankfully, I realized how foolish I was being, sat everyone down, and set the expectation. No one had a problem with it.
Sometimes it takes some maintenance and reminders, but that is part of being a leader as well.
Sometimes your wife or children will do things on their own initiative…and then stop. You got used to it. You had never set the expectation but got to bask in the glow of their efforts. They stopped because they didn’t think there was an expectation. It was just something they felt like doing at the time.
Some examples of this:
- dinner on the tables at a certain time
- cleanliness of certain rooms
- inviting people over a certain number of times per month
Don’t feel resentful if their passion for something wanes or their consistency falters. Verbalize the expectation. Show gratitude. That might be all that is needed to nudge them back into activity.
One reason we fail to set expectations is that we are afraid of confrontation, especially with our wives. Or we know that if we outline some for our children, we must be consistent and vigilant in making sure they meet those expectations.
That can be a lot of work.
But failing to do so is abdication. It is being an absent father.
So verbalize your expectations. Tell your kids that you expect their room to be clean before the new week starts. Or their clothes must go in the hamper. Or that they must obey without acting as if its the end of the world.
Do the same with your wife. For example, don’t seeth at a dirty house. Set the expectation of a certain level of cleanliness and effort, and then lead from the front.
Don’t waffle. Don’t interject a bunch of “maybes.” Don’t qualify. Be a man and state your expectations clearly. There may be some discussion, but your wife and children should never be unsure of where you stand on an issue.