Family matters

Column: Lavish children with your affection — and time

Family matters

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.tony

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

Perhaps you have seen the “Flat Dad” Hershey commercial that has been running on television recently.

In this little vignette, a child approaches her father who is sitting
at his desk and greets him with, “Hi, Dad!” Dad, who’s facing his computer, holds up one finger indicating “just a minute.”

Dad is in the middle of a Skype business meeting and can’t talk right now. The child turns away disappointed.

The scene shifts to where the child has gone to a printing shop where she has them create a standup, flat picture of her dad. Heading back home, she stops and gets supplies of graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey chocolate for s’mores. The scene shifts again, as Dad quickly places the flat, standup image of himself in front of his computer.

Those in the Skype call from work continue to see Dad staring at them as they go through the meeting. In the meantime, father and child go to the kitchen and enjoy a treat of s’mores together.

While there are a
lot of distorted images of family in the media today, this commercial message really has it right. These little family moments mean so much to our children. Perhaps that’s what Pope Francis was trying to get through to us as parents when he urged us to “waste time with our kids.”

There are lots of reasons to “waste time with our kids,” the most important being that we love them. Sometimes it means playing endless hands of Go Fish.

Other times, it means really paying attention when our kids complete a homework assignment of reading a chapter from their book to us in the evening. All of this translates into lavishing extravagant affection on our children, which says with action, “I love you.”

We spend this time, not just because we love them, but because it’s also necessary to form the emotional bond necessary for the trans- mission of our Catholic faith and values to our children.

How did Our Lord pass on the story of the Father’s love and mercy for all of humankind? It was in the discipleship relationship where those following Jesus traveled with him, ate meals with him and prayed with him. In those moments, they saw acts of love, healing and forgiveness.

This is the same way that we as parents will pass on our Catholic faith and morals to our children. It requires daily time, intentionally set aside, to shower care- free tenderness on our children.

The book, “Discovering God Together” by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, provides practical, hands-on insights for parents on emotional bonding and passing on the faith. Many of the great insights offered at a recent day of enrichment by the Popcaks are to be found in this book.

About the author

Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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