"Big Four" Highlights


Letters to My Son

For one winter week, dad attempts to pass on the wisdom of his years

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

Winter break! What a wonderful time for school kids. What a potentially worrisome time for parents who work outside the home. What will your children do all day while you’re away?

It’s a new problem for our family, since my wife is now working full-time outside the home for the first time since our first child was born. Tied to the suburban home and car, we have lots of activities for our two children, but they can’t walk to them. So when the February winter break came around for my high school freshman, there was a problem. His younger brother’s grammar school had school that week, which meant that 14-year-old Stephen would be home alone.

I was concerned about his use of the laptop that his high school requires him to have, even though we installed strong parental controls. My wife worried about the stove, the furnace and the chips-and-cookies diet our son would choose for himself. He couldn’t even go out to play since successive storms had left six feet of snow all around the house and the sidewalks were icy.

On the first day of his vacation, I got up early and thought: I am the editor of a website on fatherhood; I should be able to handle this! So like all good dads, I decided to write my son a series of letters on the important things in life, to give him some guidance and set his mind in the right direction as he spent his hours indoors.

For the four days of that week (after the Presidents Day holiday), I wrote to him about TIME, THE GOOD, TRUTH and LOVE. I will reprint those letters on these four Fridays. Fellow dads, let me know how I did. And maybe share with us some letters you would like to write to your children.

Letter #1- TIME

Dear Stephen –

This is your week! No school. Lots of sleep. Time to yourself. Time to do – what?

That’s the key question you will face all your life. What are you to do with time? Time is one of the great gifts of life, and one of the great puzzles. What exactly is time? The ticking of a clock? The beeping cell phone? The falling sand of an old-time hour glass? Or, more basically, the rising and setting of the sun to measure a day? We know that time is a great gift, a gift from God who created the heavens and earth and set them in motion. Man has always been aware of time as something invisible, ungraspable, yet something very real, and has sought to measure it, to count it out, to put it in a bottle (the hour glass) or on the face of a watch.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said that time is the measure of change in regard to before and after. St. Augustine sought to explain the passing of time in terms of a musical note sounding forever. Though the note sounds the same at any point, we can distinguish the sound that we are hearing now from the sound that has gone into the past, from the sound that will come right about NOW – which has suddenly become the present sound, oops, I mean the past.

We must measure time by what we can see, touch or hear, otherwise it is just a concept in the mind, an awareness of something (what exactly, we can’t say) passing and never to be seen, touched or heard again.

God has given us time – some amount of days, weeks, years, a lifetime – and we choose what to do. This is a great freedom and a great responsibility. What am I (and you) to do today? Get up and get going? Stay in bed? Just thinking and deciding takes time. Do I choose to do good or ill? Right or wrong? Love or hate? Give or take? These are the common, inevitable questions of life, and your teen years are an important period for you to work out the answers in your own life. What you choose will set your course and determine to a great extent who you will become.

What will you do with the time, and freedom and responsibility, that God has granted? Today is the day. Use time well.

Love, Dad

Next Friday’s Letter: THE GOOD.