0 Items  Total: $0.00

Family Roles

Family Roles

July 9th, 2011 // 4:00 am @


Nothing will have more impact on the future of the world than the future of families.

This truism is sobering as we watch the decline of the family.

As we consider the industrialized world, it is disturbing to note that even amongst those who espouse, promote and live a strong family lifestyle, some of the most basic roles have been lost.

For example, consider the following from an editorial by John Rosemond:

“A journalist recently asked me to name the number one problem facing today’s family. I think she expected me to address education, the economy, or some other “hot” topic. To her surprise, I said, ‘A confusion of roles.’

“In today’s parenting universe, married women with children think of themselves first and foremost as mothers. This is confusion. If you are married with children, you are first and foremost a wife or a husband. In your wedding vows, you did not say, “I take you to be my (husband, wife) until children do us part.” Those vows, many generations old, read the way they do for a reason.

“I’ve been telling recent audiences that parenting has become bad for the mental health of women. Today’s all-too typical mother believes that whether her child experiences success or failure in whatever realm is completely up to her. If she is sufficiently attentive to her child’s needs and sufficiently proactive in his life, he will succeed. If not, he will have problems. The natural consequence of this state of over-focus is anxiety, self-doubt, and guilt.”

Marriage is the central relationship of society, and in society, no roles are more important than husband and wife.

As I talk to young people about their plans for life, career is usually the first thing they mention.

Once in a while, a young man will mention that his main goal is to be a good father, and a little more frequently a young woman will say that she really wants to be a great mother.

But I’ve never heard the following: “I want to be a great wife,” or “my most important goal is to be a great husband.”

This is a concern. In a way, feminism has had moved society by persuading our generation to focus on parenthood even more than marriage.

I’m convinced that most people who say they want to be great parents just assume marriage as part of it. But that’s the problem. Just assuming marriage isn’t enough. It reflects a lack of emphasis on our primary roles.

The future of the world certainly depends on the quality of fathering and mothering in the twenty-first century.

The quality of marriages is even more important. The state of the world ten, twenty, even seventy years from now will be determined by the depth and quality of our marriage relationships. Parenting will largely be determined by the level of success our marriages attain.

The recent politicization of the institution of marriage raises concerns in the minds of virtually everyone, no matter where they stand on the issue.

Of most concern to me is that 64% of married women and 82% of married men responded to a survey in the early 2000’s that they had been unfaithful to their marriage vows.

I see no greater threat to the institution of marriage than the tepid level of commitment of the spouses, and the way they characterize and fulfill their roles.

Marriage is hard work, worthy work–the work of a lifetime. If there is one thing we should teach our youth, it is the value of building a great marriage.

More precisely, we need to teach—by precept and example whenever possible—that “wife” and “husband” are vital roles to society, requiring preparation, consideration, emphasis and great effort.

Once married, these must always be the primary roles of each individual—not secondary to career, social endeavors, or even parenthood.


odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Community &Culture &Current Events &Family &Featured &Generations

5 Comments → “Family Roles”

  1. Verena B

    12 years ago

    These thoughts seem to reach out to the ideas of Free Range Kids (freerangekids.wordpress.com). The connection I see is that as parental relationships deteriorate, so does childhood. (. . . duh) Childhood loses that nurturing environment that helps them intelligently assess risk. And not just in families with poor parental relationships. The fear and anxiety spreads to every corner of society.

  2. Leiann Snyder

    12 years ago

    I sure appreciate knowing your thoughts and insight on these important issues. Thank you for sharing. You give me much to think about and reflect on. Much of who I have become in the last ten years is because of your influence. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

  3. Steven R Montgomery

    12 years ago

    Great article. What a great nation we would have if traditional marriage and the family relationship were re-enthroned in our lives, culture, and society.

    I touch upon this topic here, in an article I’ve named, “Marriage and the Traditional Family: A World Turned Upside Down:


    Comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

  4. Tressa Roberts

    12 years ago

    Wow! Very powerful. I think another deterioration that occurs is when the woman stops being a home economist. Women used to sew, garden, churn butter, bake bread, make soap, preserve food, etc. These things contributed to the family and home in an economic sense. We have lost this today. Of course modern conveniences are nice, but there needs to be a balance.

  5. Oliver DeMille

    12 years ago

    I think families and societies in general benefit when both men and women master the skills of self-reliance, thrift and Providence. The very idea that so many of us cannot find water that does not flow from a faucet, or food that is not purchased at a store, or clothes, shelter, transportation, climate control, health care, etc., is worrisome for independence. We do well to consider at what cost we are dependent on the providers of our conveniences. Like you, I do not object in particular to our modern advances, but I think in a certain respect we have become slaves to them. Not only that, but we lose the satisfaction, bonding, intrinsically classical lessons and sense of family work and continuity that are part and parcel of these activities.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Oliver’s Blog