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The Power of a Present Father

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Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from Father’s Say: Give the Gift of Blessing to Your Children, written by Joe Battaglia and Joe Pellegrino.

By Joe Battaglia

It was Christmas time, and the symbols of the holiday were all around us. Christmas trees for sale on the corner. Decorated storefronts in the local shopping center. An exciting time for both young and old alike.

My daughter was young…maybe five or six at the time—and we were driving by our town hall where a crèche, a menorah, and a Santa were exhibited. As a Christian, the crèche was familiar to my daughter. As was Santa, of course. But not the menorah. So my daughter asked me what the menorah was. I explained that it was an important symbol to our Jewish friends that reminded them of a remarkable time in their history of God’s intervention, similar to what Christmas means to Christians about God’s intervention in human history.

I had the privilege of using that Menorah display as a teaching opportunity to explain the story of the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight, and then how the Maccabees, with God’s help, freed the Jewish people from their oppressors.

That time with my daughter was important because it became a teaching moment. In Deuteronomy 11:19, Moses says this to fathers whom he addresses as the teachers of their households: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road. When you lie down and when you get up.”

God gives the responsibility to men to father their children. It’s not enough to bring children into the world, and care for their physical and emotional needs. There is a spiritual need that all children have which must be addressed and God asks us as fathers to meet that need. All fathers are teachers. Some are absent. Some are reluctant. But children will learn SOMETHING from us. Even if it’s nothing. The question is what do we want them to learn, and from whom?

Question: When you are out with your children, do you look for “teaching” moments that Moses’ describes and admonishes the fathers of his day to practice?