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From one father to another. . . happy Father's Day

Several years ago, my wife Patty and I gave a presentation on marriage to a group of high school juniors. Just prior to discussing the best part of marriage, my then 2-year old, who was happily crawling around the classroom floor, happily shouted "Dadddeeee!" The whole class burst out laughing. I told the students, that's the best part of marriage–children. I pray that I never lose the heart-moving sense of awe, amazement, and responsibility that that simple word "Daddy" inspires.

One of the best books on fatherhood I've ever read is "Legacy: A Father's Handbook for Raising Godly Children" by Stephen Wood. Patty had given it to me for Father's Day prior to our first child's birth. You can tell how much I enjoyed it by the many markings and curled pages throughout! As the book states, "The most important job a man has is fathering his children, but raising godly children in today's world isn't an easy task." Wood offers tips, suggestions, statistics and anecdotes for raising godly children. He states, "The relationships built through shared work, adventure, and sports are like a bridge that the Faith can cross over to the hearts of your children. The stronger the bridge, the stronger the Faith conveyed." In helping prepare couples for Baptism, it's one of the books I recommend or give as a gift. Wood shares many stories to illustrate his points. One of my favorite humorous anecdotes from Legacy is the following:

"Fathers are often blind to the universal inclination of children to imitate them. Our children are always watching our actions, even when we are not aware of it. When my youngest son was two years old, my wife Karen found pennies in his dirty diapers. My son had observed that I put money in my wallet and then stuck it in my back pocket. Since he had no wallet or pocket, he just stuck loose change he found around the house down the back of his diaper."

A second book is by Dr. Meg Meeker, "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know." Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician, with more than 20 years counseling girls. In both her practice and substantial research she makes the point that the determinative factor in how a young girl becomes an adult is dependent on her relationship to her father. (Having grown up in a family with only brothers, I figured I could use all the help I could get when it came to raising a daughter.) As is made clear to me every time my daughter asks me to dance around the living room, or what I think of how she looks, raising a daughter is a lot different than raising sons.

On this Father's Day, I would be remiss if I didn't make note of the many spiritual fathers out there. As a priest friend, Msgr. Joe Hirsch (Diocese of La Crosse), likes to say, "every man is called to be a father and every woman to be a mother." This fatherhood does not have to be biological. How many men there are who fill gaps in young people's lives, even though they aren't the biological father? There are many male coaches, men who volunteer with groups like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, men who teach or mentor and in various ways play a fatherly role. May God bless you for your generosity!

For those of you "experienced" fathers thank you for the sacrifices you've made (and continue to make). It is by your example that my generation of fathers and the next looks to emulate. And please say a prayer for us younger dads!

From the "Book of Blessings":

"God our Father . . . bless these men, that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Phil Lawson is the diocesan director of Catholic Formation, Evangelization and Catechesis

Last modified onFriday, 15 July 2016 01:08
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