Skip to content

Dads Make All The Difference

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky
9/29/2017 (2 weeks ago)
Blessings In Brelinskyville (www.blessingsinbrelinskyville.com/)

While our culture tells us that the role of fathers is easily replaceable, evidence proves otherwise. All of a mother's good intentions and faithfulness cannot fill the void left behind by an absent father.

Highlights

Not my monkeys, not my circus is a great line to recite unless, of course, it is your circus and they are your monkeys!

Rousing, motivating, transporting and corralling eight children into a pew each Sunday morning often leaves my husband and I feeling like we're ring masters of a small traveling side show. Yet for all of the trouble it can be to present ten people in Mass each week, we know it makes all the difference if we want to keep our children Catholic.

Admittedly, I'd like extra credit for choreographing our performance (because without me there's a good chance a few more heads would turn up unbrushed and there's no guarantee anyone under 12 years old would have matching clothes). But, the fact of the matter is that my husband's role at Mass is the determining factor in insuring that our children remain lifelong Mass-goers.

Swiss Study

A 1994 survey in Switzerland found that the religious practice of the father decides the future attendance habits (or absence) of the children. According to the survey findings, if both parents regularly attend religious services then 33% of their children will be regular churchgoers for life, 41% will attend irregularly and 25% will stop practicing their faith.

Of course, 33% is still a disappointing percentage when we weigh the importance of faith for our journey into eternity, but according to the Swiss study 74% of a couple's children continue practicing their religion at least irregularly when dad sets the right example. Without dad's lead, the statistics decline dramatically.
If the mother attends services regularly but the father attends irregularly then a mere 3% of their children will continue on as regular churchgoers, 59% will go irregularly, and 38% will be abandon the practice of their faith.

And when father skips Mass altogether, in spite of a mother who attends regularly, then only 2% of their children will be regular attendees, 37% will attend irregularly, and sadly more than 60% of their offspring will leave the Church.

Difficult to Argue

Of course, one might argue that the study wasn't specific to the Catholic faith, that it's out-dated or that it's only a reflection of practices in Switzerland. One could argue against the survey's findings based on these points, but judging by the increasingly empty pews here in American Catholic churches it would be difficult to prove such a stance.

While our culture tells us that the role of fathers is easily replaceable, evidence proves otherwise. All of a mother's good intentions and faithfulness cannot fill the void left behind by an absent father.

Children Look to Father

Children unconsciously look to their father for cues about the world which is logical considering that God presents to us as Father.

This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name... MT 6:9

Therefore, if their father teaches them by his example that church attendance is unimportant or altogether irrelevant then the kids are going to believe him. 

Add to this lesson the fact that religious education classes are dominated by female teachers and the adjacent pews are filled with women and the (erroneous) message comes through loud and clear: God the Father doesn't care whether or not you worship Him. 

Moms Matter, But Don't Replace

Being a mother myself, I understand the desire as a female to want more credit in this area of formation. However, for all of the valuable blessings God has bestowed upon womanhood, He has not set it to be a replacement for the role of father.

Consider the Blessed Mother. God made her Queen of Heaven and Earth. We go to her for aid and follow her virtuous example, but we recognize that she is not the Father. She intercedes on our behalf, but she does not create or command (well, except to command us to do whatever Jesus asks of us). We know the commandments come to us from our Father and we follow them if we hope to enter His kingdom.
Children intuitively model their father's behavior when it comes to practicing their religion for the long term. No amount of entertainment or creative programs run by mothers will counterbalance the consequence of dad's empty seat.

The Take Away

What's the take away? Should single mothers stop trying to pass on the faith to their children? If dad prefers to go fishing on Sunday mornings, what is a wife to do? There are difficult situations for sure, but here are a few ideas:
1. Show Dad the evidence. Tell him how valuable his role is as a father. Let him know that he is the person God created to head the household and lead the souls of his children toward heaven.

2. Praise the fathers in the pews around you. You don't have to get overly sentimental. Just welcome them and honor their position in the Body of Christ.

3. Encourage young men to take on leadership positions in the parish and join in fraternal organizations like the Knights of Columbus. Put them to work so they see the value in their presence.

4. Avoid organizing programs for children at times when fathers are most unable to take part. Schedule Vacation Bible School programs and the like for evenings and then actively recruit fathers to participate.

5. If your child's father is absent, consider recruiting a grandfather, uncle or other male family member to attend Mass with your children. As a male, reach out to fatherless families in your parish. Encourage the mother and children. Invite them to sit near your family and silently witness to the truth that God wants them to remain close.

6. Pray. Pray for broken families. Pray for fatherless children. Pray for the restoration of the masculine image in the church. Pray for your husband to accept his role as leader and to place God as King over the family.
Stay tuned for my up-and-coming post on how we've trained our big brood to sit through Mass.


Comments


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.