I’m entering into the Defining Decade of fatherhood.
Quite simply, this is the time period when my children will go from toddlers to teens.
It’s time to pull out all the stops for them.
What is the primary purpose of our lives as husbands and fathers?
It is to become saints and to lead our families to become saints.
And the most critical time in our children’s lives is in the relatively short period from toddler-hood to teenagers. (Note that their time as babies, in utero and born, is also vital, but this time is less complex, as a father just needs to spend time with their baby, holding, hugging, loving, interacting with them. Not a given in our day and age, but not rocket science either, and a prerequisite to this post.)
So my focus for the next ten years should be following the Holy Spirit in how I should lead my family, rear my children, to guide them to God.
This means that my priority should not be:
- Making as much money as possible
- Working as much as possible to make as much money as possible
- Doing “me” things without my children
- Going to bars frequently
- Going on trips by myself
- Playing video games, sports, hunting by myself
- Giving in to temptation and sin
In the above list of things I should not be doing, note that going to a bar sometimes with friends is fine. It can even be good (I just met up last night at a bar with a bunch of Catholic friends.)
Same with hunting, video games, sports, and work. All fine things, when done prudently and as justice demands. I’m speaking of spending excessive amounts of time on these activities, to the exclusion of our children.
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh said:
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Lots of truth to that. Love your wife and in doing so you will be giving an example of Christ-like, sacrificial love to your children.
Shift your focus from you to your family. How can you best lead them to grow in virtue, faith, hope, and love? How can you help them become a kind person, a good teammate, an entrepreneur, an evangelist?
These are the questions to ask yourself. This is the time to pour your life into theirs. Get this right and the rest will take care of itself, largely.
For me, some of the concrete things I’m doing with my children are:
- Attending reverent Masses with them
- Spending lots and lots of time with them
- Reading to them
- Playing games
- Taking them on individual “dates”
- Helping my wife homeschool them
- Helping my wife prepare my son for first Confession and first Communion
- Hugs, kind words, instruction
Regarding sin, if you are addicted to pornography and lust, conquer that addiction. You cannot expect your sons to be men of purity if you are not one. You cannot give what you don’t have, and if you lack self-mastery, you cannot show your sons how to be self-mastered.
I encourage you to examine where you are in your own life with your family, and take action to identify how you can be an awesomely Catholic dad during their defining decade.