Brian Caulfield suggests that fathers these days have a fundamental problem: They don’t know who they are as dads, or who they are supposed to be.
Caulfield’s work as the editor of the multi-language Web site Fathers for Good aims to offset this “identity crisis” that is afflicting today’s fathers.
He also has compiled a book of essays, in time for Father’s Day, called “Man to Man; Dad to Dad.” The book gathers 13 experts who discuss topics ranging from theology of the body to porn addiction to balancing work and home life.
Says Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in the foreword: “This is a very rich book, filled with practical advice …”
ZENIT spoke with Caulfield about his book and about the needs fathers are facing today.
ZENIT: How did you choose both the topics and the authors for the essays in your book?
Caulfield: The book grew out of my work as editor for the Web site FathersforGood.org, which I do for the Knights of Columbus. The topics for the chapters reflect some of the major issues and challenges that fathers face today. In general, there is a lack of strong identity for fathers in our culture today — you just need to look at popular media on TV or the movies, where dads are more likely to be good-natured but clueless guys, rather than the “father knows best” type. The writers of each chapter — plus a foreword by Cardinal Timothy Dolan — were chosen for their expertise in particular topics such as Millennials, Scripture, Theology of the Body, fighting porn, keeping kids Catholic, etc. Guys can pick and choose their topics by chapter.
ZENIT: Do men seeking to be good Catholic fathers have resources to help them?
Caulfield: There are resources, but we need more. It is sad to say, but if you stop in to the average parish on an average Sunday, you will see more women than men in the pews, and some of those are lone moms with children. Where’s dad? We need to think about parish-based programs for bringing men back to church and bringing up the next generation close to the sacraments.
ZENIT: Is fellowship important for dads?
Caulfield: Fellowship is vital, but today many men don’t know that it is because they have not experienced a strong sense of fellowship with other men. That’s why men’s conferences are so important, and they are (thank God) growing in many dioceses. Organizations like the Knights of Columbus and men’s ministries provide much-needed fellowship. There is a Proverb that says as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. That male “sharpening” begins with fathers and sons and of course is done with love and even a sense of tenderness. As Pope Francis has said, we can be tender without being soft or a push-over. That applies to dads in a special way
ZENIT: What have you learned through Fathers for Good about the challenges fathers are facing today?
Caulfield: Fathers for Good is a wonderful Web resource where we seek to form and inform men, so they can reach their true God-given potential as fathers and husbands. As I said, I think fathers need a stronger sense of identity — and this includes duty and responsibility, as well as having the culture affirm and encourage the father’s role. Most of all, men face a great challenge today to their Catholic faith and moral fidelity. Those are two of the main topics we address on Fathers for Good.
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On the Net:
Fathers for Good: www.fathersforgood.org/en/index.html