I consider myself beyond blessed to be able to call Dr. Greg Popcak, one half of the amazing duo that is Greg and Lisa Popcak of More2Life, a friend. But long before I personally knew Greg, I was a fan of his particular blend of practical parenting counsel and strong family spirituality. Today, I’m happy to share my recent conversation with Greg as we reflect on his latest gift to families: BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be an Awesome Dad. While “Father’s Day” is behind us for this year, it’s never too late to give a gift to the special dads in your life!
Q: Dr. Popcak, congratulations on the recent publication of BeDADitudes: 8 Ways to Be an Awesome Dad. For our readers who have never “met” your family, could you please briefly introduce yourself?
Greg Popcak: I’m the founder and director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization that provides Catholic counseling services by telephone to Catholic couples, families, and individuals around the world. I’m the author of about twenty books integrating the wisdom of our Catholic faith with insights from counseling psychology, and together with my wife, Lisa Popcak, I host More2Life, a call-in radio advice program airing each weekday on the EWTN Radio Network and SiriusXM . In addition to my ministry work, I am the chair of the master of arts in pastoral studies program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
Q: This book draws on your own experience as a father as well as your clinical expertise to directly apply Christ’s teachings to the vocation of being a dad. What inspired this work and why is this such unique wisdom that you share with fathers?
Popcak: Pope Francis has called the Beatitudes the “blueprint for Christian living.” As I prayed on that and recognized how central my role as a father was to my identity as a Christian man, it occurred to me that the Beatitudes communicated many of the ways God THE Father relates to us, his children. In that sense, the BeDADitudes represent a blueprint for men who wish to be fathers after the Father’s own heart.
Q: Is there one of the BeDADitudes that is closest to your heart?
Popcak: The most important BeDADitude is, “Blessed are the dads who are poor in spirit.” Dads often feel that they have to act like we have it all figured out, like we know what we’re doing and what’s best for our families, but inside, we all realize we’re learning as we go. Having poverty of spirit gives men the freedom we need to say to God, our wife, and even our children, “I love you, but I’m still learning. I promise to do my best, and I promise to listen.” Poverty of spirit enables us to recognize that God gives us the family we need to become the men he wants us to be. It makes us willing to change so that we can love our wife and kids the way the need to be loved instead of just the way that’s comfortable for us to love them. This BeDADitude is the key for all the rest.
Q: Which BeDADitude is most challenging for you personally and how did writing this book help you to grow personally in that aspect of your parenting and spirituality?
Popcak: The beatitude that always confused me was “Blessed are those who mourn.” That always struck me a both oddly passive and a little depressing. In researching it I discovered that I was missing the point. In the sense Jesus meant it, mourning is really about having compassion for those who are hurting in your midst. As men, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable or even judged when our wife and kids are unhappy or frustrated with something. We want to either distance ourselves from those kinds of feelings or just fix them so we don’t have to feel them. It takes real work to learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable feeling. Even for a therapist.
Q: We were together in person recently and you shared with me some beautiful wisdom on praying OVER your children. Could you please share a bit on this topic with our readers?
Popcak: We’re in the habit of praying over our children at least every night, but also when they need a little extra grace because they have a performance or a test, or are just having a tough day. We lay our hand on their head and ask God to bless them, and to help them discover their gifts and use those gifts in ways that give glory to him. It’s a really special ritual that has meant a lot to all of us. It isn’t unusual for the kids to pray over us too.
Q: With June being the month when we celebrate Father’s Day, why is it important that we collectively take a moment to pray for and encourage men in their vocation as husbands and fathers?
Popcak: Men are really struggling to know what it means to be godly dads. Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to encourage dads in their mission and to celebrate the important gifts dads bring to the table. There are a lot of kids who aren’t blessed to have a loving dad in their lives. It’s something worth celebrating if you have a dad like that in your family.
Copyright 2017 Lisa M. Hendey