When a man becomes a husband through marriage, he takes on authority over his new family. It's a God-given authority because God told Eve that Adam would be her head.
In the book of Genesis, right after God caught Adam and Eve in their disobedience, God told Eve, "In pain shall you give birth to sons, and you shall be under your husband's power, and he shall have dominion over you."
The first part of that is a curse, but the second part about Eve being under Adam's authority was a reminder. God always intended that Eve would live under the headship of Adam, and being submissive was not part of the curse.
A man's authority is expanded when he and his wife are blessed with a child. Their unity produces a new person with an immortal soul — a soul that will exist for all eternity and who will spend that eternity either in Heaven or Hell.
Their responsibility, at first, is toward the salvation of each other. But when children arrive, parents are obligated to teach their children to know, to love and to serve God. Their own salvation depends on it.
Part of being the leader of the family is to provide for those over whom the father is responsible. The Catechism of the Council of Trent explains that God is described as "Our Father" because He provides for all our needs.
"Though from the time of our first parents and from the moment of our first sin down to this very day we have offended Him by countless sins and crimes. Yet He still retains His love for us and never renounces His singular solicitude for our welfare," it marvels.
The Catechism gives the following example of God's extreme solicitude:
At the very moment when we imagine ourselves to be utterly lost and altogether bereft of His protection, then it is that God in His infinite goodness seeks us out in a special way and takes care of us. Even in His anger He stays the sword of His justice, and ceases not to pour out the inexhaustible treasures of His mercy.
In fact, God rightly cursed Adam and Eve for their sin, telling them, "By the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the earth from which you were taken. For dust you are, and unto dust you shall return."
He then drove them out of paradise, never to return as they once were. But even after that, the Scriptures note, "The Lord God also made for Adam and his wife garments from skins, and He clothed them."
Fathers must be merciful but keep in mind that their children's salvation is a primary goal they must achieve.
Learn more by watching The Download—Lead the Family.