Becoming Your Family’s Matriarch

Becoming your family’s matriarch doesn’t happen by accident.  It’s not a job that is passed down to you.  You don’t just grow into it.   If you want to be your family’s matriarch–the woman who leads them, who keeps them close, who everyone turns to for direction, then at some point you have to decide that you are going to be that woman.   You have to answer the question:  Are you ready to be your family’s next Matriarch? And then dedicate your life to fulfilling the role the best way you can. Family's Matriarch

They are rare these days–matriarchs– and getting more rare as time goes by.   The days of a strong woman leading a family in a way that only a mother can do are fading away as more and more women change their focus from family to work place.   Nowadays it is more common to find working moms, part-time housewives, and lots of woman who don’t have the time or energy to devote to such an enormous responsibility.  More than ever those same women need someone else to go to for guidance and reassurance.   They just want to get through the day without collapsing from exhaustion.  I know.  I’ve been there.

And by lack of example, even stay-at-home moms and wives are often more focused with their own day-to-day activities than to taking on this greater role.  I believe lack of example is why there are bored and lonely housewives.   They aren’t aware that there is something greater to aspire to.  Nobody has ever shown them the way.

It takes a clear-headed, committed soul to fulfill such a huge role.  So what is it exactly?  What makes a  mother a matriarch?

A family matriarch is the foundation upon which her entire family is built.  She is the constant.  She is the one whose face can be depended on to be at every important event, and many of the seemingly unimportant ones too.   She is the one who never forgets to send a birthday card–to her parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, in-laws, and friends.   She makes everyone feel special.  Valued.  Important.  She goes out of her way to ask how your life is.  And she really listens because she believes you are significant.

She is the keeper of the family traditions.  She hosts every holiday and expects as many of the family to be present as possible. She keeps them all close.  She makes the traditional foods and hangs the traditional decorations.   She tells the stories behind those traditions to her children and grandchildren to instill the importance of them well into the next generation.  A sense of community, of belonging, springs from traditions carried down throughout the generations, and she knows it.   She wants to be sure that when they speak of a holiday or event they say, “My family does ______. Or my family eats ______ every Christmas.”   Not because the food is important, but because when they say “My Family” they know they are part of something that is reliable and constant.  Something inside them will know that family will be there for them always.  No matter what.  Just like those family traditions.

She is the keeper and teacher of the skills needed to make a house a home.  She patiently shares those skills with her descendants and with the women who marry into the family as well.  Cooking, sewing, knitting, quilting, gardening, canning, whatever her skills are, she teaches them to her children and grandchildren starting when they are very young.

She is the first to scold  you when you are off course, and the first to hug you and tell you she loves you anyway.  She has a way of making you feel more loved despite your transgression, and eager to correct course, if only just to please her.   For that same reason, she is the mediator for all major family squabbles, with an almost perfect success rate.

When you are sick, she is the one to show up with soup, or an herbal remedy to take right along side your  over-the-counter medications.   And she’ll stay to be sure you take it.  She seems to have an old remedy for everything, and most of them work!

Her house is the epitome of home, and you always feel welcome there.  But you’d better be hungry before you show up because she’s going to feed you before you leave.   And that’s okay because she makes the best foods.  They all remind you of a comfortable, happy childhood.

When the family is grieving for a loss, she carries them through it.  And when the world goes crazy, it is she who everyone turns to.   She always knows what to do.  Gathering at her house only seems natural.

Would you know what to do?  If the world went crazy today, would your family gather around you?  If that is what you want, it is never too late to become the woman you aspire to be.   It is this that I strive for and it was with this purpose that I originally began the Modern Day 50s Housewife blog.   I know there are women like me out there who aspire to be that woman.  And I believe that when we support each other and share our skills and ideas, we can and will get there.

So I ask you again.   Are you ready to be your family’s next matriarch?


    • Excellent question. First I’d have to ask if your family has an elder who already does these things. If the answer is yes, then you learn all you can from her. You start doing all the things you can mimic and you reinforce everything she teaches to your own offspring. You support her in every way. You become her right hand, and you get ready to step in when the time comes.

      If there are elders but they aren’t acting as a matriarch, then you just start doing these things. They won’t question because they won’t care. They aren’t doing it anyway.

      If yours are somewhere in-between, then do a combination of the above. Do what needs to be done. Support where you can support. Be ready. But no matter what, you act as matriarch of your own descendants always.

  1. Well, I’m in that case, my mother in law don’t act like a matriarch, but she gets angry when I do. In summer we live together and this is a problem. She doesn’t go to supermarket or plan meals, she reads books. But she doesn’t like when I do these things, and she came to the kitchen and laugh of me when I am cooking, or said that I am going to damage her things when I am cleaning.
    The worst is when she wants to be the matriarch for my kids and she crys me when I try to discipline my kids. She says them that they must call her “Mom” , but they never do that. They know who is their mom.

  2. When I was 12 I wanted to get married and have lots of kids. I daydreamed about it.well here I am at 67. I’m married, have 5 kids, 19 grandkids and 1 beautiful great grand child. People will say to me you are the matriarch of that big family of yours. It never occurred to me …but it’s true. I didn’t aspire to it but I dedicated myself to this family and it just automatically happened. When I was 18 I was a hippy…who woild have thunk it. But if you do think about it…Peace and love are what you need. And I have a strong faith in putting God first…and that’s what you do with your family. I’ve made mistakes and corrected them when i could…never be too proud to say”Will you forgive me”
    I represent what this artice says. Now thatvI’m a senior citizen and retired I have lots of time to go the extra mile…so I do and so do my kids and g’kids. It’s worth it. Kids need a role go out there and be it. and do it with lots of lover and have fun doing it. That’s important!

  3. Terrific article. I came upon it after a siblings post refering to my mother as a matriach. I never, nor did most of my siblings consider her a matriach. We were exposed to abuse at her hands and due to her behavior. So, why did he proclaim her a matriach — thought maybe my idea of the matriach was wrong… however as i sought to discover what makes a woman a matriach.. my mother did none of these things.. she was a force of division… but.. i learned that we who remain can be to others what we lacked in our lives. Thank you for being a guide.

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