Dads, Do We Have Our Act Together?

Father and Son

Father and Son

During a recent coffee meeting, a friend 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, and 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 St. 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.”

Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from Randy Hain’s fifth and newest book, Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men (Emmaus Road Publishing), with permission of the author and Emmaus Road Publishing.  The book is available through Amazon.com, EmmausRoad.org or found in your local Catholic bookstore.


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7 Comments

  1. I’m a single mom of 5 boys whose husband left suddenly when I was pregnant with our 5th little guy – a surprise and a huge Blessing! My boys and I are making it work, but it is far from easy! Thank God the faith, that I thought was strong before, has only increased exponentially in the past five years!

    Randy, you are right that our kids will imitate what they see their fathers do, and that concerns me sometimes. I stress to my boys that all earthly parents mess up sometimes, but all is not lost. They can always turn to God the Father as a perfect role model. I also try to remind myself that these children, whom I love so much, are only on loan to me from a Father who Loves them so much more than I ever can!

    Even though I have the world’s BEST kids (boasting a bit here!), I can’t stress how valuable and needed a full-time Good Dad is. Dads, I know life can be stressful for you, but please, don’t give up! You are irreplaceable!!!

    And to the many Good Dads out there, thank you for being an inspiration to me and a role model to my boyss because it’s not just your kids who watch and learn from you.

    God Bless…

  2. Wow, this is something that I really needed (even if it’s a reminder of how lacking I am as a dad). It is definitely hard to live up to the vocation of fatherhood and especially to let go and love my kids after work. I tend to worry about the future when it comes to my business and it keeps me from living and loving the present moment. I’ve noticed though that when I do let go and enjoy the kids God blesses not only my time with them but also my business.

    Anyway, thanks for the great article and the little father-to-father advice ;).

    1. Thanks Dean. I often write about my own struggles and this is certainly one of them, but i think half the battle is acknowledging the problem and praying for help.

      I appreciate you reaching out with your comment!

      In Christ,

      Randy

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