(OCTOBER 23, 2018) — I don’t know about you, but sitting on the floor with my four-year-old playing with Legos for half an hour is painful. Not painful in the sense that it’s boring. Not painful in the sense that I want to be somewhere else. It’s painful when I try to stand up again. My body just doesn’t respond as it used to after sitting on the floor.
Since I work at home, I try to take some time out of my workday to engage with my two youngest children who are six and four—either by reading a book with them, throwing a football around outside, or just asking them questions about their play. They are bright and imaginative in their play. They build with Legos, they create imaginary worlds with their stuffed toys, and they also play Mass—complete with vestments my wife designed for them.
Study after study shows the importance of play for children—and the importance of playing with your children.
Playing with kids builds a bond that will last forever. It lets the child know he or she is loved and appreciated. It opens the door for sharing problems and concerns when the need arises. It helps the parent get to know and understand the uniqueness of each child. It is also great stress reducer for overworked parents. (Source)
The Troops of Saint George takes play between fathers and their sons to a whole new level. Men and their boys together learn archery, ax-throwing, canoeing, kayaking, knot-tying, and other outdoor skills. Not only do Troops learn these skills, but they have fun doing it. As the experts note above, fathers and sons are building bonds that will last forever.
But more importantly, the men and boys in Troops of Saint George also engage in the spiritual work of becoming saints together. They pray the rosary and attend Mass together. They get in line for Confession together. These are the essential things. Men who model authentic masculinity also, by definition, embrace and model authentic spirituality—an acknowledgment that we are entirely dependent on God’s grace and mercy.
Research has shown that children of men who take their faith seriously are far more likely to embrace the faith themselves. When it comes to spirituality, fathers are the most significant influencers of their children.
A major Swiss study in 1994, published in 2000, looked at the generational transmission of faith and religious values. It found that “it is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”
One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while their conceptions of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously. (Source)
TSG provides a forum for men to nurture their own relationship with the Lord—and at the same time model that relationship for their sons. It doesn’t stop there — they bring that renewed zeal for the faith home from their weekend away. It’s contagious. Their wives and other children witness it and feel the impact.
As husbands and fathers, we’re called to model our lives on God the Father. That’s only possible when we lean on the Holy Spirit and have a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. It takes all three persons of the Holy Trinity to live our vocation properly—even if that means a little pain after sitting on the floor playing with Legos!