Praying Mothers, Alcoholic Fathers: Living With The Reality Of Reversed Roles In The Ghanaian Home Setting

Praying Mothers, Alcoholic Fathers: Living With The Reality Of Reversed Roles In The Ghanaian Home Setting

I recently visited an African (Ghanaian) Pentecost service and it so happened to be a youth week celebration. Meaning, that Sunday was quite special.

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I recently visited an African (Ghanaian) Pentecost service and it so happened to be a youth week celebration. Meaning, that Sunday was quite special. Thus, the teenagers and young adults were in charge of everything from praise, worship, sermon, song ministration, prayers, etc. At the end of the service, one of the church elders, impressed by their ministration inquired from the young folks who at home was responsible for their spiritual growth.

This was a typical Pentecost church so the traditional seating arrangements were in place. All the men/boys/males sat on one side of the auditorium while the women folk sat on the opposite side at the far end of the auditorium. Aside the many things that stunned me about the service, the seating arrangement was the biggest. I am still trying to understand the rationale for this segregation based on gender in this present day. Like how, in 2016 is this even still rationalized? That should be a topic for another day…

In response, the kids shouted, “Mummy!!!” The male elder, almost in disbelief asked again carefully, “Who at home makes sure you are reading your Bibles, praying and studying God’s word?” This time the kids shouted louder than the first to prove they were very sure of their answer. I then looked at the far end of the auditorium where these supposed “heads” of Christ’s family setting sat and looked at their slightly embarrassed faces. Some looked down at their palms and Bibles while others forced giggles and smiles unto their faces. Right there and then, it was all too clear – they had failed…

But is this not the reality in our Christian homes? Now don’t get me wrong though, I grew up in a very staunch Christian religious home. My dad was a Sunday school teacher for a very long time. And while he might have led morning devotions at home, if I were ever asked to rate my mum and dad on this same basis I would definitely point towards my mum. This is exactly what causes me to question the fallacy of male as default “head” of the family. Maybe it sounds better in theory but in practice, are our men/fathers really living to the expectations?

Growing up, it was always the norm to wake up in the middle of the night to witness my mum laying her hand on every single one of us in the house including my dad…her husband. Praying, binding, claiming, decreeing, and declaring. Fasting and all nights were and still are my mum’s favorite hobbies, including reading the word and encouraging everybody but herself. 

Outside my family were my classmates, childhood friends and colleagues. I can bet you that five out of every seven people I have ever met fall within these scenarios: A prayerful, God fearing mother and a promiscuous dad; A praying mother and an alcoholic dad; A praying, hard working mother and a lazy ass dad; A praying submissive mum and an abusive dad. These existed in their own complex forms.

Even more serious, is us young Christians having to deal with this level of irresponsibility at a very young stage. I mean how is it even a common thing for most young Christian women in relationships to be the ones reminding their Christian boyfriends of what it is the Bible says on fornication, adultery and marriage? How are young Christian women having to deal with the same chaos (lying, unfaithfulness, and lack of commitment) their nonreligious counterparts face in relationships and marriage?

So what is the problem and what are we missing? Call it a failure of socialization but if we do not start holding both males and females equally accountable to their actions (or inaction) and if we do not really expound on the confines of the specific roles bestowed unto them by default of their genitalia, what we would see is an imbalance and a reversal of responsibility. In the case of this particular church, the men’s “leadership” were mocked in broad daylight by their children.

It is about time we experienced in reality, the true leadership that is required of our dear males. Socialization in both our homes and churches must actively specify and expand on the criteria for the man as “head” described in the Bible. Yes, the Bible requires proverbs 31 women but it also prescribes a certain kind of man for this woman. And in any case, there are so many other things the Bible requires of a woman and I believe they include being wise, assertive and proactive.

I talk to my mum all the time and she always expresses her concern for the future of young Christian women. Why? In her words, “Efe, When I look around at church, I see how prepared the young women are and I get sad because the young men don’t look anywhere near ready for married life. While the young women have prepared themselves physically, academically and professionally for the future, the young men are basking around in arrogance, laziness and whining. I pray for the young women…they are in for real treats…”

As a very hopeful young woman, I get scared and worried too. Like I have said in previous posts, no matter how evolved our boys/men appear, they are most likely a cliche. How can we put an end to the era of praying wives and alcoholic/womanizing/lazy/abusive husbands?

I propose having an ethic of accountability for both boys and girls, and instilling a huge sense of responsibility (and submission) in both sexes. If women like my kind are to accept that men are indeed default heads of the family, it is time to see physical manifestations of that leadership because as at now it remains a fallacy, and has been proven to be so…for a long time now.


Efe Plange

Efe Plange

Efe Plange is founder and editor of Sankofa Reviews. She holds a Master's degree in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University. She is passionate about the Arts and Cultural industry and her background in the field is fueled by a longstanding dream of seeing theory work together with practice. Connect with Efe on social media.
Efe Plange


  • comment-avatar
    Dede 1 year

    Efe, well said…

  • comment-avatar
    Eve 1 year

    It’s funny cos I had an argument with a group just the other day, on why women formed a larger population in the church, yes we go for varying reasons..but really when you are sleeping she is in the church praying for u and the kids. We hold the family together..and the man is supposed to be the head.

    • comment-avatar

      Exactly! And so men’s leadership only appears in theory but it is so not the case in reality. Our mothers do more than “lead.”

  • comment-avatar
    Kojo Rock 5 months

    Society creates this problem itself by focusing more on the girl child .
    Everyday all you hear is ‘girl child ‘ .
    I never had any conversation with my mother or father about what an ideal man should be ,because boys are expected to figure it out themselves …
    Society thereby prepares the girl child for monsters by neglecting the boy child

    Some guys had the opportunity of being groomed . But I never had that chance Most men never get that chance

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