Being a dad is an important role, and research shows that children are far more likely to thrive when they have an engaged father in their life. But some dads have a desire to be more engaged and loving with their families and simply don’t know where to start.
Dr. Gregory Popcak, a Catholic marriage and family expert, has a new book out called BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be an Awesome Dad that uses the Beatitudes as a practical guide to understanding the love of God and applying that love to being a better father. Dr. Popcak recently stopped by The Kristine Franklin Show to share some advice on how fathers can be more engaged with their families.
Pray With Your Family
We can’t live this Christian difference our homes if we’re not first going to the Father and asking Him to teach us what to do. And that’s not something we can just go off on a mountain by ourselves and figure out. It’s something that we need to lead our family to do together, so that they can learn who God is, through our example.
There are so many Catholics in general, and Catholic men, in particular, who believe that prayer is a private thing. Prayer is certainly personal, it’s certainly intimate, but by definition, the Catechism tells us prayer is never private. In fact, you’re never less alone than when you’re praying. Because when you pray, you’re united with God, all the angels, the entire communion of saints praying with you, you’re united with the entire Church. Prayer is about communion, first and foremost. The Catechism says that prayer is Christian insofar as it is communal. And so the idea that prayer is private is a myth, and we need to get over it.
Be Willing To Do the Hard Jobs
Be willing to do the hard jobs, not just around the house – fixing this or putting that back together. Sure we need to do that, but even more importantly, the hard job of knowing our wife and our kids hearts. Being willing to respond to the needs that are on their hearts in ways that enable them to get what they need and become the people that God created them to be.
… It’s about stepping up and doing what needs to be done. That’s what men do. We have to ask ourselves, who are we? Are we products of this family, or this culture, or are we sons and daughters of the Most High God? And if we’re sons and daughters of the Most High God, then we better get out there and start living it. We better get out there and start doing the jobs our family needs us to do, so that they can be godly people and so that we can use the daily tasks of everyday life to grow, to accept the invitation that God is giving to us, through our spouse and kids, to change in ways that we would never change if left to our own devices. God needs us to change so that He can pour His love into our hearts and His grace into our hearts so that we can become the saints we were meant to be.
Seek Purity of Heart
Purity of heart means that I can see the worth that a person has in God’s eyes. When I look at you, I don’t see you as a means to an end, I don’t see you as a thing that I can use for some purpose that I have, whether it’s sexual or to make my life easier in some way. I see you as a child of God. I see what you’re worth in God’s eyes, and I don’t want to do anything to take that away from you. In fact, everything I do, I want to build you up and help you have a clearer sense of who you are in God’s eyes. That’s what real purity of heart is. It’s the desire to never use anybody – not just women, but anybody – and treat them like a thing. I want to recognize them as a son or a daughter of God, and it’s my job to build them up. That’s what purity of heart ultimately is.
Create Rituals of Connection
An important thing is to create rituals for our kids. Making sure that we have regular rituals for work, play, prayer, and talking. So we’re working side-by-side with our kids, because our kids tend to open up when they’re doing something with us. And we need to show them how to take responsibility for their lives, so we’re sitting down with them while they’re doing their schoolwork, or they’re sitting with us while we’re folding laundry, doing dishes, doing the stuff around the house. We’re not just making it a Disneyland experience when they come and spend time with us.
We’re making sure we talk with them. Not just ‘What did you do in school today?’ but ‘What’s going on? Tell me about your friends.’ Not because we want to spy, but because we really want to know.
Make sure you’re praying with your kids in a meaningful way, and that you’re playing with them too. Because your kids need to know that you can have fun together and learn wholesome and healthy ways to have fun with you. The more you can create those rituals of connection around work, play, talk, and prayer, the more you’re going to draw your kids hearts to you and give them a safe place to land.
Read more in Dr. Gregory Popcak’s new book BeDADitudes: 8 Ways To Be An Awesome Dad
Listen to the full interview with Dr. Popcak below:
The Kristine Franklin Show airs weekdays from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Pacific on Immaculate Heart Radio.