National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Family Matters

BY Tom and Caroline Mcdonald

Septembar 29-October 5, 2002 Issue | Posted 9/29/02 at 2:00 PM


Weekends-Free Fatherhood

Q All of my husband's favorite hobbies are daylong ventures. While I wish he would spend more time with our kids and me on the weekends, I feel guilty asking him to give up his favorite pastimes.

A Tom: I'm giving a third-trimester pregnant Caroline time off and fielding this one myself.

This is an ages-old dilemma.

Ever since Gronk's wife disapproved of his spending all weekend hunting woolly mammoths with his cave buddies, wives have been endlessly irritated when their husbands disappeared to hit the links, the woods or the stream in the early Saturday morning hours.

I'm going to address men directly this time and come down relatively hard on them about this. Generally, after a hard day at work, most guys come home somewhat burdened, tired and a little cranky. Although we may put forth genuine effort, our families probably don't see us at our best on weeknights.

The weekend is when men thrive — rested and revived with work concerns forgotten, this is when we like to recreate, work on house projects and so forth. Wouldn't this be the perfect time to give our best selves to our families? That does-n't mean forgoing recreation and projects; it means modifying our idea of recreation to be inclusive of the family. Do things that everyone can do — even the smaller children can help paint the shed, for example.

Does this mean husbands have to give up golf and hunting? Not at all.

It just means seeking an appropriate balance in our activities. This will differ depending on what stage of your family life you are in at any given point. A retired man whose kids are grown and gone may like to golf as much as a few times a week, and his wife may not mind at all. On the other hand, a younger man with four children under the age of 7 at home, including a newborn, better think twice before heading out that door on Saturday morning.

Most of the time, it is our wives who deserve the break. Before heading out, ask yourself when was the last time you offered to take the kids somewhere so your wife could take a nap? When was the last time you stayed home with the kids while she went shopping (for herself — groceries don't count)? When was the last time you arranged for a sitter so you two could go to her favorite restaurant? If the answer to all three questions is “within the last month,” then maybe a day of golf is in order.

To those men who say, “But hunting with my buddies/dad/brother monthly is a tradition,” I offer this reply: So what? You can still honor that tradition, but now is the time to start some new ones with your own children.

Give them memories of time well-spent with you, and those traditions will become more dear to you than any other.

Tom and Caroline McDonald are Family Life directors for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.