Every family needs a father. But not just any father; a present, hands-on father.
As a husband to a gorgeous wife and two of the cutest boys anyone has ever seen, I know how challenging it is to be a present and intentional dad in the busy world we live in. As a result, I am constantly assessing how much time I spend serving in ministry and how much quality time I spend with my wife and sons at home.
Pope Francis says, “Every Family needs a father – a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm love and guidance.” This quote helped me realise a powerful lesson. To share in the joys and sufferings of my sons Joseph and Thomas, I must be a present hands-on father. For my sons to be willing to listen to any wisdom I have to share from past mistakes, I must be a present hands-on father. To offer firm guidance that is understood to be rooted in my unwavering love for them, I must be a present hands-on father.
The father should not just witness the joys in the home but produce the joy! If the father does not spend quality time creating joyous times with his children, why would he expect them to be vulnerable when suffering?
Parents are often confused why their teenage children won’t open up about things they may be struggling with. They will tell me how they always reassure their child that they can talk about anything on their mind whenever they like. How foolish to think this is enough. These are empty words.
A child will only welcome a father into his sufferings if he knows with certainty that his father cares about every aspect of his life. A young man once told me that his dad would take him to his workplace once a week but would never ask him about his day at school. The young man said, “He brings me into his big world but never wants to come into my small world.”
The father must always offer firm guidance or correction where necessary, with love. Discipline motivated primarily by anger or impatience is always destructive to the child and the father-child relationship.
You know it is hard to be a present, hands-on dad if you are a dad right now. Maybe you have made many mistakes with your children you wish you could erase. I am with you, trust me. But let’s turn our focus to what we can do from today to be more present.
What are some ways you could be more present in the joys and sufferings? How could you impart wisdom with more effectiveness and humility? How can you always ensure that your guidance is motivated by love?
St Joseph, pray that we would be more present to our families as you were to your Holy Family.