Dads, Do We Have Our Acts Together?

Father and Son

Father and Son

During a recent coffee meeting with a friend, he said, “You seem to have your act together on the fatherhood front.  What’s your secret?”  I was surprised and taken aback because I don’t think I have my act together at all.  I don’t mean that out of false humility.  I pray every day to be a better husband and father because I know all of the areas where I fall short.  Before I could answer my friend, he received a call on his cell phone and had to run.  The topic, however, stayed on my mind throughout the day.

What does “having your act together” as a Catholic father really mean?  I’m not the expert, but it seems that this sort of father likely has his priorities straight with Christ first, family second and work third.  This kind of dad spends quality time with his family, not just time.  This man is a role model to his family in living out his Catholic faith and being the light of Christ to others.  This father has joy in his heart and is a man of prayer.  This Catholic dad honors and loves his wife and lifts up the Sacrament of Marriage in the eyes of his children as something special and sacred.  This sort of father finds in St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Fathers, an ideal role model for how to serve God and his family.

What sort of rules or maxims might this Catholic father who has his act together follow to stay on the right path?  If we consider what Scripture and the Church teach us, we can look to these four points as our guide:

  1. Our vocation is to get our families to Heaven.
  2. Our children are always watching us.  They will likely model later in life what they learn at home.
  3. We are made for Heaven, not this world.  Let’s act accordingly.
  4. Our children are God’s gift to us…the love and care we show our children is our gift back to Him.

Feeling convicted?  Me too.

So, why did my friend say what he did over coffee?  I believe he knows that I try to be a good father despite my numerous failings.  He sees that I keep at it and don’t give up.  He knows that I constantly pray for guidance and help.  I don’t really have my act together, but I do sincerely believe failing as a dad is not an option because my children would ultimately pay the price if I am not successful in my vocation as a father and husband.  “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” – Pope John XXIII

Guess what dads?  Sometimes, you and I simply have to try harder.  We have to give our best, even when we don’t feel like it.  We have to sacrifice some work time, fun time, down time, me time for the sake of our families.   It would be wise (although scary) for us to realize that our kids watch our every move and they will be like us one day.  I pray that is a good thing.

Dads, I encourage all of us to take the four points listed above to prayer.  Let’s not allow our pride to keep us from asking for help.  Seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.  Let’s pray for each other, challenge each other and encourage each other.  Let’s live out our vocation to fatherhood with courage and honor for as Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles said: “It’s a promise to be faithful to the vocation of being a father. Even after a long day of work, even if he’d rather be doing something else—instead he will smile and laugh and take delight in spending time and playing games with his kids. Because that’s what fathers do. They keep their promise to love.”


Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications.  The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.

Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was  released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012.   Along the Way was voted Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012.  His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013.  All of Randy Hain’s books can also be purchased at your local Catholic bookstore, Amazon or www.liguori.org.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.


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17 Comments

  1. Randy,
    I enjoyed your story on being a Catholic Father. Over the past several years my life has been changing into place where I have been aware that being this kind of a Father does have an eternal impact on our families. I was amazed how God showed me so many creative ways to improve and heal my relationship with my family over time. It took some major re-construction and sacrifice of my own personal career goals, but the joy and fullfillment surpass anything I could have accomplished on my own. I realized that when my life is over, the most important things on earth will be those relationships with my wife and kids. I want to live on in their hearts, so I plan to make the best of it. It is so funny that if I consentrate on my family and their well being, then everything seems to fall into place. When anomosity sets in and the love is shaken, business is bad.
    Thanks so much for your inspiration!
    Dirk

  2. Great article Randy. I pray that you continue to write. Many people look up to you and look forward your articles. You inspire us.
    Best,
    Sean

  3. Randy;

    Another very moving piece on the integration of out Catholic faith into our every day life. But I admit I feel much more like the “convicted” father rather than the loving father I pray to be. I have two wonderful sons, but so often find myself overwhelmed by the burdens of a stressful and, frankly, life consuming job as well as financial struggles I must bear alone as my wife is a stay at home mom. I often feel too exhausted and drained from my job to give my sons the love and attention they deserve. After Mass I’ll visit the chapel in the back of our Church were there’s a small shrine to St. Joseph. And I pray for his intercession. I pray unceasingly. I pray for the strength to be a good father and husband. I know that I need so much help. I need to avoid falling into the trap of despair for my many failures. But I do not lose hope in the good plans our Lord has for me. God bless you Randy for your continued service to our community.

    George

    1. George,

      I, too, often feel like the “convicted” father and encourage you to keep praying. Your prayers will be answered and this challenging phase of your life will produce blessings for you and your family even if it is difficult to see it now. I am glad you are seeking St. Joseph’s intercession and encourage you to seek the help of our Blessed Mother as well.

      You are a good dad…keep at it.

      May God bless you and your family,

      Randy

  4. Randy,
    Great stuff. This Dad thing is the hardest job I have ever held.
    And that includes getting shot as a Police Officer.

    My kids (6 in total) are all adults and out there in the world on their own. They cover the range of personality types, all very strong. I pray for them everyday. I tease them all the time that if they keep me from going to heaven I will be very mad at them. It is my way of identifying their behavior as being inappropriate. I know it is not enough but they push back when I talk to the them about their lack of practicing the faith.

    The point is getting your act together is in all likelihood a perpetual moving and changing dynamic aimed at a better result.

    There is no vacation from Dadship.

    Thanks for writing.

    Add me to your prayer list and I will do likewise.

    God Bless
    Greg

    1. Greg,

      Thank you for your comments and encouragement. Being a dad is the world’s greatest job…but it does have a few challenges!

      Praying for you and all dads today.

      In Christ,

      Randy

  5. Randy,
    Wish I had read this 20 years ago!! My kids are all grown now and looking back, I think I did OK..They are both fine young ladies, both are practicing Catholics and my oldest daughter has blessed me with one Grandchild. I will definitely use your words as inspiration to be a great example to my granddaughter as she goes through life. I have all of your books and visit the ICL website almost daily. Thanks for everything you do for Catholic men both in business and as fathers and grandfathers.

    In Christ’s Love
    George

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