Role of the Husband/Father

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Roy
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Role of the Husband/Father

Post by Roy »

Many years ago, my family and I were on a road trip and listening to some church talks that we had recorded on cassette. The speaker talked with pride about the fact that he had never changed a diaper for his many children. He justified this by imagining that in the celestial kingdom, diaper changing will be exclusively the job of the servant class and he was practicing for a much more exalted station.

My sisters were fairly feminist by LDS standards and pointed out that, by this standard, the speaker was treating his wife as a servant.

recently in another thread we have been discussing the "Peace Maker" pamphlet. It is a pamphlet published in Nauvoo that pushes and defends the idea of polygamy. It is thought that JS had some hand in getting the pamphlet published but wanted the ability to disavow it if necessary. The "Peace Maker" suggests that polygamy will restore men back to an exalted position, rather than being dominated and manipulated by women.

There seems to have been an idea floating around in some corners of the church over time that there is a family hierarchy and men are at the top.

However, it feel like many/most men in the modern 21st century church are supportive husbands and present and involved fathers. How do we explain this?

1st I think that there were probably always men in the church that approached family life with their spouse in fairly egalitarian ways. Heber C. Kimball and his wife Violet seems to have been one such example - even in the age of polygamy.

2nd I believe that Church leaders began making statements to the effect that family life IS a primary duty of priesthood holders.
Holders of the priesthood, in turn, must accommodate themselves to the needs and responsibilities of the wife and mother. Her physical and emotional and intellectual and cultural well-being and her spiritual development must stand first among his priesthood duties.

There is no task, however menial, connected with the care of babies, the nurturing of children, or with the maintenance of the home that is not his equal obligation. The tasks which come with parenthood, which many consider to be below other tasks, are simply above them.
Elder Packer 1989 (most of the remainder of this talk is somewhat offensive by 2020 standards but I suppose change has to start somewhere)
As a husband and worthy priesthood bearer, you will want to emulate the example of the Savior, whose priesthood you hold. You will make giving of self to wife and children a primary focus of your life. Occasionally a man attempts to control the destiny of each family member. He makes all the decisions. His wife is subjected to his personal whims. Whether that is the custom or not is immaterial. It is not the way of the Lord. It is not the way a Latter-day Saint husband treats his wife and family.
Elder Scott 1999

I feel that statements such as these have served to make LDS men more invested than most in the task of child rearing and providing support in family life.

If there was a faction in the church that was against men changing diapers for what they saw as doctrinal reasons and another faction that was in favor of men changing diapers for what they saw as doctrinal reasons, then it would seem that that latter group won out.
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nibbler
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by nibbler »

Roy wrote: 24 May 2022, 14:49 Many years ago, my family and I were on a road trip and listening to some church talks that we had recorded on cassette. The speaker talked with pride about the fact that he had never changed a diaper for his many children. He justified this by imagining that in the celestial kingdom, diaper changing will be exclusively the job of the servant class and he was practicing for a much more exalted station.
Cringe. As the people that don't know what cassettes are would say.

Believing that there's a servant class in heaven to do the tasks that exalted beings feel are beneath them must represent the dead opposite of preparing for a celestial kingdom.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
I believe that statement applies equally to god and us little people.
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Ann
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by Ann »

Roy, I agree that the diaper-changing fathers won out. I think LDS men, at least the ones I know, consider no task beneath them and are very involved fathers. I’m sure I can think of some who don’t step up and even do actual harm, but I’m talking generally.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by DarkJedi »

I also agree the diaper changing fathers won out overall, but I still think there are a few of the old school types around and there are also some "tweeners."

I think the depicted attitude of some of the men in the Under the Banner of Heaven series is mostly on the extreme side, but I also think that kind of attitude was more prevalent in the 60s/70s/80s church. The husband/father goes off and provides for the family and the priesthood authority has the final say by virtue of the priesthood. The wife/mother's job is to stay home and be taken care of, raise the children, and do all the housework. I think there are remnants of that type thinking in the church today and not just in Utah or rural Idaho. I can think of a couple examples in my own ward, one that I know fairly well - I doubt he changed a diaper on any of his six children (two marriages, 4 children from the current), and he more or less brags about how his wife doesn't have to work but also says on the side that he does no housework because that's her job.

My children are grown and gone, but I always saw my role as nurturing and providing as well - it was a team effort, there was no her job or my job. I can kiss boo-boos too, and I didn't shy away from changing diapers (I can prove that because I know where to stand when changing a boy's diaper :P ).

I suppose my version of Heavenly Father is one I imagine would change a diaper (although there would seem to be no need to do so for a spirit baby). I'm sure others have made this distinction, but I got this from Terryl Givens: there are two Gods, the reigning and sometimes vengeful King-God who we are here to serve, and the loving merciful Father-God who serves us. Our doctrine is really tilted toward the latter, but there are many who can't get past the other one. FWIW, this is what All Things New is all about.
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AmyJ
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by AmyJ »

In a sense, I think what is driving the change in the roles of husband/father and what they actually do is how the roles of women in the sense of wife/mother are changing - due to birth control and/or family planning, dual income family unit requirements (in some areas), increased education & job earning of women, and the increase of single family/2 or more household family units.

There is also the decreasing stigma and increased transparency in men acknowledging that they want/see themselves as more "nurturing" - more "hands on" in terms of family responsibilities. This is evolved into a duty of having children, of "parent-work" not defined by gender.

I think there is a grassroots level de-facto unofficial movement from some men not necessarily in positions of power who don't want patriarchy to just not practice it, and to lean in more in terms of changing the definition of how they see themselves as different from and past "provider" and "presider".
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Gerald
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by Gerald »

My father never changed a diaper (that I recall) and there were numerous children in our family. Because there were nine of us and my sister and I were the oldest, we often changed diapers. So when I started having my own kids, it was really no big deal. As I said to my wife, "I've been doing this for years." I have a son-in-law who is very uncomfortable with tiny babies but he tries hard to do his part (which includes changing diapers). So I would agree that roles are changing.

I remember a conference talk by Elder D. Todd Chrisofferson entitled "Let Us Be Men." He told how his mother had some health problems that made ironing for their large family difficult. His father went out and bought an ironing machine to help her.
On the way home, my mother was upset: “How can we afford it? Where did the money come from? How will we get along now?” Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money. “Now when you iron,” he said, “you won’t have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops.” She didn’t know he knew about that. I was not aware of my father’s sacrifice and act of love for my mother at the time, but now that I know, I say to myself, “There is a man.”
When I heard the talk, I remember saying to myself "Yes, there is a man....from the 1950s." It's not that it wasn't kind of him to buy the machine and the sacrifice he made should not be dismissed. I'm sure he was a very hard-working man. But I doubt it would have even occurred to him to do some of the ironing himself (or get one of the five sons mentioned to help). Also one of the implications is that Elder Christofferson's mother suffered with this for a year before they had the money to buy the machine. Now maybe it wasn't practical to do that at that time but the story left me feeling just slightly uneasy. For me, it didn't jive very well with our modern notion of fatherhood and manhood.
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latterdaytemplar
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by latterdaytemplar »

Roy wrote: 24 May 2022, 14:49 Many years ago, my family and I were on a road trip and listening to some church talks that we had recorded on cassette. The speaker talked with pride about the fact that he had never changed a diaper for his many children. He justified this by imagining that in the celestial kingdom, diaper changing will be exclusively the job of the servant class and he was practicing for a much more exalted station.
I honestly would never have imagined someone saying this, but it unfortunately does not surprise me.

Had I been confronted with such a statement, I would like to think that I would pull him aside in private and say something like the following:
The most exalted station is that of the Son of God, who was and is the Greatest Servant of all. We are taught that, by being in the service of our neighbor, we are only in the service of our God. So long as one is not willing to be a part of the servant class, one will always feel wholly out-of-place in the Celestial Kingdom, to the point where one may not feel comfortable remaining there.

As your friend and brother in Christ, I want to see you in the Celestial Kingdom. For that reason, I invite you to repent of this pride that you have of not serving your children, which, in this case, includes apologizing to your wife for belittling the Christlike service that she rendered alone to your children, thanking her for being willing to do so, and thanking her for her Christlike example.
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Minyan Man
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by Minyan Man »

I was born in the 1940's. Raised in 1950 - 1960's. My Father was not in the church.
I would bet the "farm" that he never changed a diaper. My Mother didn't work
outside of the home. Her family was everything to her. And as their children, we knew it
& felt it. The point I'm trying to make is that roles of parents have
changed over the years. I believe that because of the roles they assumed, I
was closer to my Mother then my Father.

I'm proud to say, I have changed my children's diapers. I also believe that I have a
closer relationship with my children than I ever did with my Father. It doesn't
mean that I didn't love my Father. It means that we had a different relationship.

Life & our relationships with friends & family are very interesting.
I never thought that our roles would change as much as they have over time.
Roy
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by Roy »

This is interesting. Thanks for the comments. It would seem that this idea of men not needing to change diapers was something that was present in the broader culture of the day and that some church members may have just used LDS doctrine to help justify it.

I feel that there are parallels with the priesthood ban, racism was present in the broader culture but then unique LDS doctrines were brought in to help justify the racism within the subculture of the church.

At any rate, I am glad that church leaders have repudiated both the diaper idea and also the justifications for the priesthood ban.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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DarkJedi
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Re: Role of the Husband/Father

Post by DarkJedi »

I agree with MM in that gender roles were definitely culturally different pre- sexual revolution and pre- equal rights. I was raised by my grandparents. Grandpa was born at at the turn of the last century and raised on a farm as the oldest boy of 10 children. My grandparents had four children of their own, and Grandpa worked blue collar jobs often entailing hard manual labor (construction and foundry work). Raising children and all house work was women's work. In the rare case Grandma was sick and unable to prepare a meal he cooked the only thing he know how to cook - scrambled eggs and toast. If he knew how to cook anything else I never saw him do it. He was not one to hold his grandchildren, and not the kind of Grandpa whose lap grandkids went to sit on (honestly I'm not even sure he knew all their names). I cannot imagine he ever touched a diaper or gave a bottle.

Point being, for at least the first half of the last century men did man work and women did woman work and that was all part of the culture and social acceptance. I appreciate that social revolutions that have changed this for my generation and even more so for subsequent generations.

(Side note: Remember the movie Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton and Teri Garr? Funny movie, but some of the humor is lost on my children because of the change in social norms. We actually had a stay at home dad in our ward for a while.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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