National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Sports vs. Saints?

Family Matters – Working Life

BY Dave Durand

May 4-10, 2008 Issue | Posted 4/29/08 at 4:52 PM


At work, I’m a managing director. At home, I’m a husband and a father of five children. My wife and I are both active in our parish. Our kids’ sports schedules fill our “down time” to the point where we have no such thing. How do we slow things down?

You have described the biggest single challenge for millions of families today.

Managing a household today is strategically complex. In order to find the right answers, you need to remind yourself of your primary responsibilities. As a husband and father, your primary duty is holiness. And I mean your family’s as well as your own.

The role you have at work, the sports activities, the volunteering — these are nothing more than a means to that end. So when they get in the way of your main goal in life, they must be trimmed, restructured or re--aligned.

As a managing director, you are aware that companies have all sorts of routines to ensure that they stay on task with their mission. They hold meetings of various kinds and at various levels to keep everyone focused on what’s important.

Families need routines, too — family meals, vacations, Sunday Mass, traditions, parental “date nights” and so on.

In the corporate world, a business that fails to plan fails to prosper. So day-to-day doings must wait during board and or staff meetings. The CEO will not accept anything that compromises the company’s focus. His eyes are constantly on the prize.

In the same way, you must guard the family meal, date night, vacations and Sundays. It is your role to institute these as routines in your home. These gatherings enable your family to communicate about timely and relevant things. They are filled with teaching moments that can be tied to the daily and current concerns of your children.

These “meetings” allow you to keep close ties, allowing you to establish lasting bonds and unshakable trust. Family prayer is possible only when the family is together, so this needs to be part of this time together, too.

As with many leadership issues, the solution is not complicated — but it is difficult. Each member of the family will need to make sacrifices in order to bring back balance. You and your wife will need to sit down more frequently to schedule family time.

You may not be able to sit down to a picture-perfect dinner at the exact same time every single day, but, if you apply effort and flexibility, you will be able to have a family meal each day.

You will also want to ask yourself if the volume of sports activities is helping or hurting your children’s character development. Certainly there’s real value to be had in the lessons sports can impart — teamwork, perseverance, obedience to an adult in authority. But, as Popes John Paul and Benedict have so often reminded us, children need to learn how the world works primarily from their parents.

Pardon the pun, but you shouldn’t be competing with sports for your kids’ attention.

If you’re as deep in as you sound, there will be no easy solution. Just difficult adjustments. That’s the bad news. The good news is: Parents who set and maintain a rightly ordered routine in the home open up proven pathways to salvation and sanctification — for their children and for themselves.

Definitely worth the effort.

In 2007, Leadership Excellence magazine named Dave Durand one of the

‘top 100 minds on personal development.’ He’s online at