Do you think you are you influencing your family’s faith, values and behavior? The answer is almost certainly yes. The more important question is how you are influencing them. I know many good men who struggle in numerous areas of demonstrating and leading faith in their families. I know many church attending children who regularly attend services with their siblings and their mothers. I also see many of them (mostly the daughters) active in church activities being dropped off and picked up by their mothers.

Are you trying to lead a household of faith? If so, here are 10 questions I hope can help fathers to help guide you in that mission. It might be good on each of these to think about your own answer as well as how your family might answer for you. I hope this is helpful to you.

10 – Is your faith visible to your kids?

Certainly your children know whether you are Christian and where you attend church. This question is really about whether they see your faith in your life. Do they understand the role of Christ in your life. And is it the role you want them to see?

9 – Do you regularly pray as a family?

Study after study shows the importance of family prayer on family unity and togetherness. It is hard in today’s fast paced existence to ensure the central role of the family and the role of prayer in that family. It cannot happen without making it a priority. I know for my family, my wife committed early in our marriage that we would have regular family dinners and despite my work hours, church and community activities, kids’ activities and her own schedule, we have managed to have more than 90% of our dinners as a family throughout our nearly 17 years of marriage. It is the same way with prayer. If it is not a stated priority (and clearly supported by fathers) it will not happen.

8 – Do you attend church as a family?

This one is pretty straightforward. In my own life, I have had periods of Mass attendance which range from sporadic to frequent to consistent. However, in the strong times and the weak, it has always been as a family activity. That’s great during the consistent times, but also indicates that in the sporadic times I am depriving my family of grace and Eucharist.

7 – Are you active in your church?

This goes beyond church attendance. The question here really is are your children able to see, through your deeds and service and/or your financial support (yes, that too) how important the church is in your life? Young people are very observant, particularly when it comes to their parents. If you want your kids to love God and be committed to the church, do you show them your love and commitment?

6 – When people enter your home, can they tell that you are Christian?

Does your home have symbols of your faith that are visible and prominent? These symbols can stand as constant reminders or God’s love for us and of the history of our faith. If your Christianity is obvious to others, it will be obvious to your children as well.

5 – Do you hug your kids often?

This is a really important one to me. As a leader of a Youth Group, I worry about the expression of love between parents and kids. I see children who are good kids from good families disrespect, and in some cases, mistreat their parents. I see parents shrug their shoulders in response and say “That’s just the way kids are.” Well, that’s not the way God made kids and if that is the way they are with their parents, then parents need to act to correct and not accept that behavior. A great way to do this is to express your love for your children outwardly. The simplest form of this expression is a hug.

Young people want to be loved and if they don’t get it at home, where will they get it? If you hug them and the reaction is one of disbelief, don’t stop. It is probably a sign that they need it more and may be a sign that you need pratice.

4 – Do you read the Bible?

The Bible is an amazing source of inspiration for Christians. I have never thought myself much of a Bible scholar, but reading it on a regular basis is a great means of prayer and will help you in immensely in your families faith journey. Don’t be afraid to read passages to the family at family gatherings. If you’re not comfortable finding and choosing passages, there are numerous, helpful devotions books with selected readings and discussions for families. Choose one that suits your children’s ages.

3 – Are you able to answer your kid’s questions about Christ and the Church?

Young people (and old) will always have questions as they learn more about Christ and Christianity. You don’t need to be an encyclopedia to be able to help them out. If you don’t know the answer, make it a family exercise to find the answer. You can take the question to a priest, search for the answer in the Bible or online. Be careful with the online. There are may great resources, but many unreliable ones as well. If you go that route, try to find corroboration or try to find a site associated with the Church.

2 – Do you comfortably speak about God and your faith?

Many people don’t. American Society has for the past few decades made it taboo in so many areas of our lives that it doesn’t come as naturally for people as it once did. Not being able to comfortably discuss faith can be a real limitation on expanding your faith and improving your relationship with God. If you aren’t comfortable with it, ask someone you trust (a spouse or priest for example) if you can spend some time discussing your faith. As with most things, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.

1 – When asked to describe you, how early in their answer would the people who know you best talk about your faith and your family?

This can really be a provocative question. Do you want to be known as a good Christian, a good person, a good employee, a good father, brother or son? In reality, we all have some level of claim to each of these. The question is how the priorities in our minds and hearts translate to the priorities we act on in our lives. If you prioritize being a good Christian and a good father, those who know you will readily make that association?

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