Our dear friend Jasmine Baucham just wrote an excellent, very practical answer to the question, “How can I help my father without stepping on the toes of my mother, his one true helpmeet?” (our paraphrase — read the entire question here)
There is a reason we usually emphasize fathers in our writings (actually, there are six reasons), but it’s not because we think mothers are less important. (This is why one of the first articles we wrote up for Visionary Daughters was “What About Mom?“, one of the most foundational articles on our website.) The glorious importance of wifehood and motherhood is the subterranean theme that runs through our whole ministry. The role of the wife, the helpmeet, is also the thing that puts the daughter’s role in context, and gives us a vision for the future. This is why we devoted so much space in our book to the wife’s role. And this is why, when seeking to help our fathers, we should look to and defer to our fathers’ helpmeets — our mothers. We won’t understand where we fit into the family as daughters unless we can see:
Without that understanding, the role of the daughter doesn’t make sense. What is she? A deputy/rival helpmeet? A second-rate son? A pampered pet? An unpaid maid? A child? A sponge? An autonomous individual just rooming in her parents’ house (or not)? If we don’t have the right biblical presuppositions, we might look at the blueprint and interpret the daughter’s role any of these ways. And believe me, we’ve heard them all. But if we can see the whole picture, it becomes clear that a daughter is none of these things.
This is important to understand. A family of helpmeet hopefuls jockeying for the position of Daddy’s “primary helpmeet” is not a healthy family. And a daughter causing friction in the household is not helping her father or anyone else. The antidote is very simple. Many thanks to Jasmine for this very helpful article.
A (Lengthy) Reply to Kelsey’s Inquiry
by Jasmine Baucham
When my daddy comes home from an out-of-town trip, though the boys squeal and clamor next to the front door as soon as they hear the garage, all of us kids know that Daddy’s first priority when he enters the house isn’t going to be to scoop one of us up in a bear hug or tousle our hair. Daddy will walk into the house, his eyes searching, looking right past his children. He’ll part the clamoring crowd and make a beeline for Mama. And only after he’s said his hellos to her (sometimes making us gag playfully in the process) will he turn around and enthusiastically greet us.
It’s something we kids are used to, and something that, as we grow up, we learn to love. From a very young age, my parents have made it apparent that their relationship supersedes everything else in our family life. And that’s the first point of my reply to Kelsey’s question from yesterday:
Your Parents’ Marriage is The Most Important Thing
Their marriage is the foundation upon which your family is built, and it’s only because of their healthy marriage that we can have healthy homes. My daddy may be the head of his wife, and of his household, but when it comes to us kids, we are under both of our parents’ authority. If we’re doing anything to undermine that relationship, we’re undermining our family dynamic in a crippling fashion. As their children, we need to understand that we should be encouraging our parents in their pursuit of a godly marriage, not doing anything to hinder that pursuit. We know that a strong marriage is the stepping stone to a strong family unit, and that the relationships within that unit are what defines a strong family. We have to work to keep every relationship running smoothly -biblically.
Now, a strong mother and father who realize the importance of their relationship will be quick to let us know when we’ve gotten out of line. And, when they do, our response should be brokenness and repentance. “But what if I was just trying to help my father, and by doing so, better learn how to help my future spouse?” You know what will really help you serve our future spouse? Observing the union of your parents; they are as one, not to be divided by our overzealous efforts to help dad (or, in other ways: by us making snide remarks about one parent to the other, or running to one parent when another says or does something we don’t like, to name a couple of examples).
A good way to set boundaries with your helpfulness, Kelsey, is listen to your mother when she expresses those feelings of discomfort or “jealousy.” Chances are, if you’re hurting your mother in this way, you’ve overstepped your bounds. You want to be sensitive to her feelings, and of the important, foundational relationship she has with your dad. You also want to honor your mother as you seek to become a woman of God. You need to remember that you are not a helpmeet until you’re married; there was only one man you were meant to be a helpmeet for, and that man’s your future husband. While you have a wonderful opportunity to learn skills that will aid you in that calling right now, realize that you are just an apprentice -not the master -until you have your own home.
Before you think to do something for your dad, ask your mom what her plans are. She is your daddy’s helpmeet, not you, and that’s a role that you should honor. Do things to show your mother that you recognize her place in the home, and that you understand that it is not your calling to usurp that place. And do things to show her that you appreciate Mom and Dad, and the importance of their relationship.
Something I like to do to show my mama that I care for her is to hint around to my dad when I think of something she might enjoy. My dad’s pretty romantic all on his own (I mean, come on! The man listens to opera and jazz and can name classic movie actors by sight -he’s awesome =), but sometimes, I’ll run across something to suggest to him. Several months ago, I saw an advertisement for a play I knew my mom would love. I booked the play (up till the payment finalization) and ran downstairs to show daddy that I’d found them front row seats at a great price, if they were interested. Of course he was (and later bought season tickets, just for them two). The night of the play -just like I try to do whenever my parents go out together -I assured them that I was completely willing to babysit the kids, and that they should stay out as late as they wanted and to have a great time.
Every once in a while, you might let your mom know you’re always available if she wants to do something special with your dad, that she doesn’t have to worry about the house while she’s gone (sometimes, for my parents, this can even mean a week-long vacation), that you’ll take care of everything so they can be together. It doesn’t have to be something as big as that -when you see your mom and dad sitting and talking on the couch, even if it’s just a leisurely conversation, you can gather your siblings and take them to another room to play quietly so your parents can have some downtime together. It’s a little thing, but it shows that you care.
Helping Dad and Mom
It’s important to remember that you have two parents, and both have a very important role in your discipleship. Your father’s role is to protect and guide you, and he is the head of your household, yes, but your mother holds an equally important role as your example of Proverbs 31 in action, and as your Titus 2 mentor. Having a good relationship with both of our parents should be a priority.
One commenter made an important point about helping where you’re needed. If your mom’s helping your dad with a project, your job isn’t to push her out of the way, but to find something else to do. This may be something to help your mom, or even something to help a lady in your neighborhood or in your church, from babysitting to teaching piano; perhaps you have a home business. Your mom might not have enough time to do more tedious office work for your dad; maybe that’s something you can take care of. Your mom and dad may need to go and minister to someone in the church; perhaps you can go grocery shopping for your mom that day. We can make a point to cook a couple of meals a week for our mom, to organize our dad’s paperwork, or any number of things, but we need to make sure that what we’re doing is really an asset to our parents before we forge ahead.
How it works out for me is that I’m my dad’s research assistant, but I have to balance that with my other responsibilities; most of my time is actually spent helping my mom with the boys, with the errands, and with the household chores. I try to tackle the things that will free both of my parents for more important pursuits, like spending time together. Our goal as stay-at-home daughters should be to help the whole home run smoothly, not just to focus in on one parent; it should also be to develop a well-rounded arsenal of tools that will help you down the line as a wife and mother. My job isn’t to be my dad’s primary helper, and it’s not a position I’m vying for, because I understand that my best preparation for being a wife and mom comes from understanding that both of my parents play a pivotal role in that process.
Having a Good Relationship with Both Parents
Do you know your mom’s favorite color? Do you know just what to get her for her birthday? Do you know what movie to pop into the DVD player when she wants to relax? What kind of music does she love?
It’s important for we girls to get to know our daddies, and to show affection to them as well -that’s something that seriously lacking in our day and age. Instead of developing fruitful relationships with our fathers, we’re looking for affirmation in all of the wrong places.
However, in righting this wrong, we cannot ignore our mothers, who are of equal importance. My mom is my favorite person to be with. It wasn’t always the case. I’m more like my father (they call me The Clone =). My first word? “Daddy.” My 21-year-old papa was bowled over the first time he saw his little girl (poetically speaking; I’m told his first words about me were actually, “Oh, she’s so beautiful… are you going to clean her up? =). I followed him everywhere. Our sense of humor, our thought process, our personalities in general are a lot alike. And I’m still Daddy’s girl. =)
But, you know what? I’m Mama’s Girl, too (when it comes to her, I’m called The Shadow =). I used to think that the personality difference made it difficult to have a deeper relationship with her. What made it hard during those adolescent years wasn’t a personality difference at all, but a misunderstanding of who she was in my life. I had a career-woman mentality from a young age (you know, twelve going on twenty-two), and didn’t think I had anything to learn from my mom. Boy, was I wrong! And I’m glad I was! The more I got to know my mom, the more I realized that both of m parents had shaped my character; yes, I’m more like my dad, but my mom and I have things in common, too! And Daddy’s no good with girl talk. =) We work together, we talk together, we laugh together, and I learn so much from her example, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. At the risk of gushing, I have to say that our relationship is one of the most important in my life; Kelsey, it pains me to know that you may be missing out on such a beautiful relationship with your mom.
I wish you could have seen more of her in ROTD [Return of the Daughters], but my brother Asher had just come home three weeks prior to shooting, and Mama’s lack of sleep plus her usual camera-shyness made her sparse. =D You’ll just have to rely on my accounts -she’s an amazing woman. And I’m sure your mother is, too. And I’m sure she loves you tremendously as well.
If we want to use this time in our lives to take advantage of the opportunity for discipleship and service in our home, we need to remember our primary goal: to glorify the Lord. In looking towards that purpose, we need to realize that our motive in acts of service and our drive to become the women the Lord has called us to be needs to come from a zeal for the Lord. Our parents have been given to us to guide, protect, and disciple us as we walk this path. In respecting both of our parents, in serving them both, in walking alongside them both -our mothers as they demonstrate godly womanhood for us to mirror, our fathers as they demonstrate the biblical manhood that we’re looking for in a husband -our goal is to please the Lord.
Our time for wifehood will come soon enough -God’s timing is perfect. But this season of daughterhood is pivotal for our spiritual development. We mustn’t become myopic in our focus; the big picture presents an inspiring reality: as single ladies, we have a unique opportunity to serve during this time in our lives. We must make sure that our acts of service are pleasing to the Lord, and we must act in submission to both of our parents, and be careful not to let ourselves become overzealous to the point that we lose sight of our place in the home. The headstrong independence that we claim to have gotten rid of in order to better serve our families is just directed a little differently -now, instead of wanting to skyrocket in a law firm, we sometimes try to control every aspect of our homes instead of taking a backseat. The sin is still there -it just has a different name. Once we learn how to rein it in (or rather, once we submit to our authorities, and submit to the Father, and he graciously reins it in), the opportunities for truly blessing others are limitless. And remember, supporting your dad’s vision means his vision for the entire family; those goals can be met even when you’re not directly helping your father; anything you do for your family, or as your family’s ambassador to others, under the direction of your parents, can be furthering your dad’s vision.
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