Who Wears The Pants? 10 Ways Men Must Lead Their Families

Who “wears the pants” in your family?

If the answer is not unquestionably you, you’re failing as a man. 

Masculinity begets leadership.  Masculinity IS leadership.  Man was born to lead.  This is his purpose, his duty, and where he finds fulfillment.  

Men, it is your job to lead your family.  It is not your wife’s.  And if you’re not ready to lead a family, you’re not ready to have a family.  

One of the sharpest insults someone can say about a man is that his wife “wears the pants.”  It implies emasculation.  Which it is.  It means he isn’t man enough to be in charge.  

But it also says something about the wife. By having to “wear the pants” it means she’s not “wearing a dress.”  i.e. she’s not being feminine.  Too often, women take on the masculine leadership role not because they are domineering, feminist women, but because they have to.  Someone has to lead and far too often the men can’t or won’t.  Believe me, women don’t want to “wear the pants,” but they’re often forced to.  

If a man is the leader and head of his household as he should be, his wife can take on the feminine, nurturing role she was made for.  This whole equality movement between the sexes we’ve seen over the years is nonsense.  There is a difference between equal value and equal role.  Of course men and women have equal value.  We are both made in the image of God, but we are not equal in role. 

Men, it’s up to YOU to take charge and be the leader of your family.  

But there’s more to leading your family than simply being “in charge.”  

Here are 10 ways that a man should lead his family.

1. Spiritually

I believe leading your family spiritually is the most important role of a husband and father.  If you’re not leading your family spiritually, you’re not leading your family at all.  

You need to set the example for faith in your home.  Want your kids to pray? Pray with them.  Want your kids to read the Bible? Read it yourself.  And the big one… Want your kids to go to church? Go with them.

Much has been said about the feminization of the church in recent years.  Some of this is a result of the culture, but another reason is because there aren’t men there to lead it!  

If your wife goes to church more than you do, you are NOT leading your family.

Instill the spiritual values you hold dear into your children.  Teach them the importance of faith and salvation.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Men, be the pastor of your own household.

2. Physical Fitness

No good man allows their family to become fat.  How can you provide, protect, and lead your family if you’re not physically fit to do so?  How can you lead your family if you drop dead of a heart attack becasue you’re morbidly obese?

Men lead their families to be fit by being physically fit themselves.  Don’t bark at your kids for being couch potatoes when you spend every Sunday on the couch drinking beer and watching football.  

Teach your family the importance of fitness from a young age and they will carry it with them their entire lives.  

Be active with your family as well.  Go on hikes together. Ride bikes together.  You can build memories while also staying in shape.  A fun family hike will be remembered much longer than family movie night.  

Be fit, and they will follow.

3. Communication

To be an effective leader, you need to be an effective communicator.  Talk to your family.  Don’t sweep things under the rug.  If there are issues that need to be addressed, deal with them right away.  

No issue should ever be off limits.  If you don’t establish proper communication, when your kids get older, they won’t come to you with issues in their lives and you’ll have no idea what is going on.

The best way to enable effective communication is through family meetings.  Schedule a time once a week to sit down together and discuss the issues you need to discuss as a family. 

4. Preparedness

There’s an old adage that says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Men who are effective leaders are prepared for everything.  They are prepared to handle expected and especially, unexpected changes.  

When SHTF whether it’s financially, politically, emotionally, physically, or in any other way, your family will look to you to lead and you better have a plan.  Not only is it important to have a plan, it’s important to share your plan.  Your family should know what to do in case of an emergency.

Leading your family requires being prepared for every situation.

5. Strength

It goes without saying men need to be strong.  But not just physically strong, emotionally and mentally strong as well.  You’ll be no good as leader if you crumble under pressure.

When your family looks to you, they should see strength, fortitude, and perseverance.  They should never see weakness, indecision, or doubt.  It’s not that men can’t have these feelings, we all do, but your family should never see them.  This is why men need brotherhood and fraternity.  It provides them a place to be vulnerable and accountable so that they can show their families strength.

6. Be The Change

If you want your family to change, change yourself first.  My good friend, Zac Small, often says, “Your kids will follow your actions, not your advice.”

We’ve probably all had a boss who expected something of us, but didn’t follow the rules themselves.  How do we all feel about that boss? We couldn’t stand him.  Your family feels the same way about you if you’re a hypocrite.

Don’t ever ask your family to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.  Once they start seeing the results of the positive changes you’re making, you won’t need to tell them to change, they’ll follow your lead.

7. Earn Respect, Not Demand It

If you have to demand respect, you aren’t worthy of respect. 

If you’re leading your family the way you should be, your wife and children will respect you.  If they don’t it’s because you’re not being the man and leader they want and need you to be.  

Yes, your children should obey you simply because you’re their father, but it doesn’t mean they respect you.  

Be a man of honor, integrity, and true to your word, and they will respect you.

8. Finances

Finances are one area where many men struggle, often because they weren’t taught themselves.  Take the time to get a good financial education and get your finances in proper order.

You can’t properly lead your family if you’re broke.  Get out of debt, save for a rainy day and invest for the future.  Then teach everything you’ve learned to your family.  Financial education in schools is horrendous. Make sure they learn the truth about money from you.  

9. Teaching

A good man not only leads, he teaches.  

The best teacher your children ever have shouldn’t be found in a school.  They should be found in the home. 

Instead of doing things for them, teach them how to do it themselves.  The old proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” rings true here.

Pass along the skills you’ve learned, but also pass along the lessons you’ve learned.  Share with them the mistakes you’ve made and how to avoid them.   

Instead of telling your family what to do, teach them what to do.  

10. Responsibility

A good man and a good leader takes responsibility. He doesn’t deflect blame or “pass the buck.”  If you messed up, admit it, accept the consequences, and learn from it.  

So many of the problems in today’s world stem from people’s refusal to accept the consequences for their actions and take responsibility.  The first thing people do when something goes wrong is to find someone else to blame.

That’s not how men work and not how good leaders act.  Take ownership of your actions and your decisions.  No one is responsible for you but you.  As President Truman often said, “The buck stops here.” 

But you are also responsible for the actions of those you are leading.  The behavior of your family is a reflection on your leadership.  If something is not right, it’s your responsibility to make sure it gets corrected.  

True leaders are accountable and responsible for every action that they take every action of those under them.  

There are undoubtedly many more ways in which men need to be leaders of their families.  Truth is, we should never stop trying to find more and better ways to lead.  

You will fail as a leader.  I have failed in many ways and many times.  The important thing is to learn from failure and to never give up.

The only people to never fail are the people who never tried.  

If you want to be the one who “wears the pants” in your family, you must be a strong and effective leader.

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Published by Timothy Reigle

I’m Timothy Reigle, the founder of Into The Wilderness Ministries. After overcoming a fifteen year addiction to porn and sex, I have made it my life’s mission to help other men break free from the bonds of addiction. As an author, coach, and chaplain, I work with men to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity.

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