In an idyllic family dynamic, the leadership of the family is a shared responsibility of both the husband and wife. In reality, however, it is not always practical for this mutual effort to exist in an exactly equal proportion. For varying reasons, one individual usually takes the leadership role, and advice and direction for family members takes shape over an extended time frame. This does not mean that the leadership role is that of a dictatorship, often quite the opposite, as a wise leader accepts criticism and the constructive input of of all family members.
In modern society the standard roles within the family of past generations are no longer feasible in most instances, and the ability to adapt and combine roles is imperative in progressing. Financially, more women who were once housewives have been forced by necessity to enter the workforce. Men who were once the sole means of family support have lost their employment due to a sluggish global economy, and are unable to obtain adequate replacement. Often a household has two working parents, and the shift of leadership fluctuates daily, in accordance with the parent who is present to make an urgent decision. In any case there is no steadfast rule as to who the individual should be that grasps the mantle of leadership within the family – whatever works well for an individual family cannot be disputed.
In past generations the head of the family was usually the eldest male, and the extended family respected their wisdom attributable to their years of living. While this was not always the optimum circumstance for the happiness of all family members due to generational differences of opinion, it did work decently. While not all family members in this arrangement were content, it did serve to keep the family together as a unit, and at the least put the collective well-being ahead of temporary personal desires.
No two family dynamics are identical, and who should head the family is the individual that accepts the responsibility, has a desire to preserve the family unit, and takes the feelings of other members into consideration with every decision. Strong communication skills for a family leader are a must, along with the ability to listen more than they speak. While the opinions of children should be heard, they should not become the driving factor in directing family endeavors. Children are children, not adults with extensive life experiences.
Finally, the individual who should head the family must willingly embrace the position. This is not to say that the role goes to their head as they become an all-knowing icon, but are secure in their capabilities to lead. Conversely, if an individual thinks they are incapable of leading the family, they are probably right and should defer to another.