I was recently asked what advice I would give to a group of Catholic male students on how to be good fathers. Here is a specific question: “I was wondering if you could give me an insight – what is the most difficult challenge that children pose to Catholic fathers?” How do we instill Catholic values in them without isolating them from their friends who may not share the same values? ”
I was able to come up with five tips that I would love to give to young Catholic fathers or men who are going to become one.
Recognize and create space for God to be a true Catholic father
Seek His will as a parent. Turn to him and the saints (especially Joseph and Mary) for guidance. He always seeks His will for himself as a parent and for his child. This means praying together in the family, talking about the faith, and living it together in the parish community.
He loves his wife
Children are the fruit of marriage, and good children come from a good marriage. A good marriage provides a foundation of love on which children can grow and rely. He is also an example to sons how to treat women and daughters how to expect them to be treated.
Make family a priority
It took me a long time to understand, but the priorities must be God, family, then work. It is easier for men to put work first and make it their god. Putting the family first means having time for the family and when difficult decisions come, choose it over other needs.
Understand that your children are not yours
We are co-creators of our children with God. He is the One who determines and allows us to participate. But our children are also our brothers and sisters in God’s family. We are stewards in charge of caring for and raising these children of God. That is what we need to take seriously. He wants us to raise them as such.
When we stand before Him, we will be responsible for how we raised them. Therefore, we need to think about it – we must not be too lenient or too strict, but always do what is good for the child.
The Catholic Father goes against the current of secular culture
I wouldn’t worry about whether the kids are isolated from so-called friends. If they are, then they are not really friends. I raise my children to understand that we as a family are different – and they have to accept that. My oldest daughter only got a cell phone when she was 16 when she started driving to school, not when she was 10 like most of her friends. My son is not allowed to play most of the video games his friends are allowed to play. Well OK.
We need to teach our children to detach themselves from the virtual and live in the real world. Do not watch shows and movies that are contrary to our Catholic values. Being an authentic Catholic means that someone will isolate and ridicule us. We need to teach our children to separate themselves from such things. Indeed, Christ tells us that we will be persecuted.
We as parents need to make sure that our children have thick enough skin to cope with these minor ways of persecution. We must also help them look for true friends who share the same values with them. Part of that is to be part of the community and to build communities of faithful Catholics where difficulties are less important (although even in that case many Catholics are subject to compromise). This is perhaps the greatest struggle a Catholic father has – to be in the world, but not of the world.
The biggest problem – do not stop bad habits in time
As for those challenges that children set themselves, it depends on each child. I have found that the biggest problem is when we as parents fail to stop bad habits in time (or even encourage them by our own example). Probably the biggest challenge is not allowing the bad aspects of our culture to creep into our home. I would also say that it is probably a sacrifice that too many young parents are not willing to make for their own good, making it even more difficult for their children to do the same.
Rob Kaiser – Catholicdadsonline.org
Translated by: Josipa Novački