Wouldn’t it be nice if fatherhood came with an instruction manual? What if it did? “The BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad” (Ave Maria Press, $15.95) explores how the eight Beatitudes given to us by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount can shed light on a uniquely Christian vision of fatherhood, enabling faithful dads to become fathers after the Father’s own heart.
Want to be an awesome dad? Here’s a sample of how The BeDADitudes can help you be the father God is calling you to be.
1. Blessed are dads who are poor in spirit
Seek to be a father after the Father’s own heart. Being a dad is on-the-job training. No one has it figured out. Don’t pretend you do. Have the humility to go to God every day. Each day, ask God to teach you to be the husband and father he wants you to be and the husband and father your wife and children need you to be.
2. Blessed are the dads who mourn
Be not afraid of feelings. Empathize with your family’s tears, fears and struggles. In Scripture, “mourning” doesn’t mean “sadness” so much as it means “cultivating a compassionate heart.” When your wife or kids feel sad, angry, frustrated, anxious or any other negative emotion, resist the temptations to feel judged or to push away their feelings by just trying to fix the problem. Instead, work to take the time to understand why they feel the way they do, empathize and show that you care about them and help them work through their feelings in godly ways.
3. Blessed are the dads who are meek
Meekness isn’t weakness. Cultivate the humble strength of a listening heart. A real leader listens first. The father who is authentically meek is not afraid to hear what his wife and children really need from him and, when necessary, doesn’t hesitate to get new skills to meet those needs. The father might be the head of the household, but that doesn’t make him the family potentate. It means he is best equipped to facilitate the process of communication, prayer and mutual deference (Eph 5:21) that allows his family to make just and godly decisions.
4. Blessed are the dads who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Awesome dads are on a mission from God to lead their family to the Father. Righteousness comes from drawing closer to God and striving to be the person he wants us to be. Too many men leave family prayer and faith conversations to mom, but research shows that when dads take the lead in prayer, faith formation and character training, kids are exponentially more likely to live their faith as adults. Be the father that leads your family to the Father and celebrate the righteousness that results.
5. Blessed are the dads who are merciful
Be a loving mentor in your home. Don’t break hearts. Mold them. Being merciful means treating a person in a manner that reminds him or her of his or her worth in God’s eyes. Sometimes that means encouraging others in their efforts to be their best selves. Other times, it means giving someone that nudge to remind him or her that he or she is better than his or her present behavior suggests. Either way, don’t settle for being “The Punisher.” A merciful dad is a true mentor and teacher. Don’t just yell or impose consequences when the children mess up. Instead, respectfully teach them how to improve their behavior and express themselves in good and godly ways.
6. Blessed are the dads who are pure in heart
Cherish the treasure of your wife and children. Protect their dignity. Affirm their worth. Yes, pursuing purity of heart begins with avoiding pornography and not treating your wife in lustful ways, but it involves much more than that. Pope St. John Paul II taught that the opposite of love is “use.” Love makes people more human, but “use” turns people into things. Don’t treat your wife or kids as the things that exist to make your life easier. In all things, treat them with the godly dignity they deserve.
7. Blessed are the dads who are peacemakers
Keep your house in order. St. Augustine said, “Peace is the tranquility of right order.” Be the hands-on dad that makes sure your household is respectful, generous and orderly. Don’t leave facilitating family time to your wife. Take the lead on maintaining rapport and making sure everyone in the family is working well together. A peaceful household is one where each member is taking care of each other as well as his or her chores.
8. Blessed are the dads who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
The world will try to undermine your efforts to be an awesome dad. Be one anyway. When your friends, family of origin, co-workers or employers try to make you sacrifice what’s best for your family, choose your family. God the Father will honor your sacrifice.
Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books, including his latest, “The BeDADitudes.” Together with his wife, Lisa, he is the host of More2Life Radio (weekdays 10 a.m. on EWTN & SiriusXM 130). Learn more about Catholic counseling and other resources at: www.CatholicCounselors.com