Being a dad is a privilege, not a right. And, like any title worth holding, it takes a lot of work to maintain it. God doesn’t get to put his feet up every Sunday when we celebrate him; he keeps right on working. So, this Father’s Day, I’m issuing a renewed challenge to all of the great Catholic dads out there to keep up the hard work of earning that privilege each and every day:

TEACH YOUR KIDS “SURVIVAL SKILLS” — The amount my kids don’t know is terrifying. Don’t mistake me, they’re bright kids, but they’re 9 and 6, respectively. We’ll have conversations about math or science one minute, and then they’ll be baffled by the toaster the next. It’s totally natural, but it always surprises me. Similarly, a twenty-something member of my team at work said to me just last week, “Nobody teaches you how to be professional.” And it occurred to me that he’s right. There’s a lot “nobody” teaches you. If we dads don’t step up and fill those gaps about life, about manners, about faith, nobody else will. (Worse yet, somebody might, and what that person might teach your kids might not be what you would have taught them.)

MODELS AREN’T JUST ON FASHION RUNWAYS — The joke goes that you eventually turn into your parents. And it’d be hilarious if — as I pass into my 40s — it weren’t true. I look more and more like my dad. He was a voracious consumer of current events (newspapers, in his day), and so am I. He was active in youth athletics; I coached my son’s third-grade basketball team this year. Point is, whether I mean to be or not, I’m like my dad. And that’s the man my kids see. You’re the man your kids see. When your kids reach their 40s, they’re going to turn into you. Gut check: How does the thought of your kids emulating you make you feel?

LIGHTEN UP — We were lucky enough to get to travel for spring break this year. Even before we left, my wife and kids called a “family meeting.” I was gently informed that I tend to be a tad serious when we make our way through the airport (translation: I bark orders like a drill sergeant), and would I please lighten up, already, because we’re going on vacation? My son told me that I get “uptight.” I did not know my son knew the word “uptight.” The mantle of “Dad” often includes the responsibility for getting our families from point A to point B safely — physically, emotionally, spiritually. But as my wife is fond of reminding me, “It doesn’t have to be somber to be sacred.” All that teaching and modeling and guiding will be more memorable if there’s a smile that goes along with it.

Being a Catholic dad is both a privilege and a big responsibility. Our kids are watching, and they will do what we do.