What should the role of the father be in the home?
He should contribute everything that he has to give. That’s the plain and simple answer. Which means that when he comes home, before he walks in, while he’s still holding the doorknob, he should make it his business to dispell any crabbiness, any grouchiness that he acquired during the day. Because now begins his big career in life – the career of the home.
He has to expect anything from his wife when he comes in. “All day long you’ve been in a quiet office while I’ve been suffering from these kids.” She is about to give a blast at him. So while he’s holding the doorknob, he should steel himself for that blast. He should be ready for anything. He should make up his mind that יעבור עלי הכל, whatever is going to happen – no matter what is going to happen – I’m going to play my role. I’m going to be a good actor. That’s how he should prepare himself for when he goes into the home.
The only problem is if he’s home all the time – what should he do then? On Shabbos, now that’s hard! To act only in the evening, maybe. But all day Shabbos, that’s a big job. And so when he goes to shul on Shabbos he acts natural, and then when he comes home again, he should prepare again for the ordeal. And then he shouldn’t remain long in the house. He should come quickly back to the synagogue, to learn. The less you’re around, the easier it is to be an actor.
But that’s only the beginning. There’s a lot more to say about what a father should be contributing to the family. He has to put in a sense of humor into the house. A father must bring with him a sense of humor. Mothers are dealing with the children all day long, so they’re worn out raw. And therefore every little problem is magnified in her eyes. Little Chaim’ll, he doesn’t eat, and it becomes such a major problem, that all the problems of the world are dwarfed in comparison. And so the father has to make a joke out of it. Of course, he to be careful to do it in such a way that she doesn’t become the but of the joke. But it has to be a joke – “It’s not so serious; Chaim will one day be a big fat rabbi anyhow.”
TAPE # 165 (April 1977)