Full disclaimer, I am a “new dad”. I don’t have 5, 10, or 15 years of experience under my belt. I have 4 children, a 3 year old son Luke, a 1.5 year old son Jude, one baby in heaven, and one baby on the way! I am constantly learning how to be the best dad I can be, with many of these learning moments coming from my faults. With that being said, I am not writing this attempting to fool anyone into thinking I have this whole dad thing figured out (I mean, we haven’t even hit the rebellious teenage years yet.). Nonetheless, I write this with conviction as I have witnessed many authentic, God-fearing, wife-loving, child-raising fathers in my life, my own father being a prime example.
Here’s 3 easy things every dad should be doing:
1. Love your wife. Children are so observant. I am constantly amazed when I hear one of my boys attempting to hum a song I was humming 2 minutes ago. Or after dinner when I start taking dishes to the sink, being followed by Luke and/or Jude, with a cup in hand, hurling his cup into the sink attempting to do his part. Our kids watch and replicate so many of our actions which is why they need to see their dad loving their mom. My sons will learn how to treat women by observing how I treat their mother. Likewise, if I am blessed to have a daughter(s), she will learn how she should be respected and the inherent dignity she has as a woman by they amount of respect and dignity I show her mother.
2. Have family prayer. Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton famously said, “The family that prays together stays together”. If you don’t have a family prayer routine, start small and continue building up. As the spiritual leader of the home, lead your family in prayer before meals. At first it may seem awkward and uncomfortable but typically that discomfort is only on your end. Push through that discomfort and it will soon become as natural as breathing.
When it’s the kiddo’s bedtime, we all have nightly routines. Take a bath, brush teeth, comb hair, get pajamas on, and maybe a bedtime story. Before that bedtime story, you, your wife and children kneel down by their bed and have a bedtime prayer. It can be as simple as, “Now I lay me, down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” It’s quick and easy but sets an example of praying before bed… an example that I carried on from when my parents taught me.
3. Bless your children. Before my boys go to sleep or any time I have to leave for a couple days on business, I make the sign of the cross on their forehead while praying, “May almighty God bless and keep you and may you always stay under the protection of our Mother Mary.” It’s quick and simple. Takes me all of 5 seconds. Our Lord ordained men as heads of the Domestic Church, which is a miniature of the Universal Church. This means each man is a priest of his home. A great way to embrace the role as a priest of your family is by blessing your children. My boys have come to love and expect this nightly ritual and always give me a happy grin as I pray it. (For a great book on this topic, click here.)