I remember once - some 10 years ago - I reluctantly agreed to take my two boys mini-golfing. I had work to do, but I figured this was more important. My youngest son, Daniel, was having a hard time with one of the holes, and so I stood in a place where his ball would hit my foot and bounce in the hole. Daniel was thrilled.
My older son, Nicolas, asked if I had stood there on purpose. I asked him why I would do that, and he responded, “Because you are a good father.”
When I was little, I used to have a story about a bunny who everyone asked what he wanted to be when he grew up: A firefighter, a construction worker? No, what the little bunny wanted to be was a daddy bunny. The last image of that story – of a Dad bunny putting his little bunnies to bed is engraved in my mind. I wanted to be that Daddy Bunny. I have always wanted to be a Dad.
But being a Dad is more than just having children. You actually have to bring them up as well. And that’s when it gets tough. In many ways, I believe, in this day and age, the odds are against us parents.
In my dreams I have a fantasy that the boss is requiring me to spend more time in the office and I tell him that I can’t and so I quit so I can be home with my kids. Thankfully this is just a fantasy. My wife and I have been lucky to have jobs that allow us to spend time at home with our kids.
But spending time with them is not enough. We are also responsible for them. One thing I believe is that ultimately it doesn’t matter whether we say yes or no to our kids. What matters is that we make the decision in a way that will show them that we care about what they think and feel. When they grow up, they won’t remember whether we let them stay out late or not; they’ll remember that we cared about them enough to listen to them and to take the time.
But just listening to your kids is not enough. We have to teach them values – but how? I believe values are not taught
to kids, values are caught
by kids. They learn our values by watching and listening to us. So if I am not home, then they are not watching and listening to me – which means they are catching the values of someone else – or from the TV or the Internet or social media. So I try to be with them as much as possible and to live my life as best I can so they see and learn what kind of man I am. Hopefully, it’s the kind of man that they’ll want to be one day.
I believe that if I spend too much time trying to make money so I can take the kids to Disney World or move to a bigger house, the time will fly and we’ll never do those things, and before I know it... I didn’t even spend time with them.
I don’t remember caring about not having the things that other kids had. But I do remember playing catch with my dad. I remember him taking us to the little amusement park in town. And I hope those are the things he remembers too – because, at the time of death, it won’t matter how much money I made or how many projects I completed. It won’t matter how big my house was or whether we went to Disney World or not. What will matter is what kind of Dad I was and what my kids think of me.
What will matter is what kind of men they grow up to be.
If they think of me as a “good father”, that’s a good life lived.
To all fathers out there: Happy day. Go be good Dads!
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]