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The Jalsevac family in 2019. S. Jalsevac

(LifeSiteNews) — I come to you today in honor of Father’s Day to share my own experiences and lessons of being a father and now grandfather. I hope my personal reflection brings you comfort and joy as we take this time to celebrate fathers and the important role they have for each of our families.  

If you do a search for “fatherhood” in the LifeSiteNews search a total of 394 articles is returned. And that only scratches the surface. There are many other articles we have published relating in some way to the essential role of fathers for children and a stable family life. We have always understood it to be a topic of great importance for individuals and for the overall health of society.  

When fathers are removed from family life, the overall result is frequently devastating and long-lasting, sometimes for generations, and there are good reasons for this.

In the 1970s, while running my own business, I witnessed my assistant manager go through an incredibly painful, day-by-day marriage break-up. He and his wife had three lovely young children. This jarred me into realizing that my wife Bonnie and I, married for five years, were at that time almost certainly heading in the same direction. One thing then led to another, we underwent a dramatic spiritual conversion, and life completely changed for us. 

I changed from a narrow-minded, selfish liberal to being open-minded to the real facts about abortion, population control, the sexual revolution, and much more, all of which I previously supported. After the conversion, we gained the courage and trust in God to become parents even though it still seemed to be a frightening challenge. That was a huge change for us since we were not at all open to having children during our first 5 years of marriage.  

Future LifeSiteNews Co-Founder and President Steve Jalsevac and his wife Bonnie (left) on their wedding day July 1, 1972

When our first son Luke was born, it was mind-boggling for me. I felt I became a man that day and marveled at the awesome, unexpected miracle and gift of my son’s birth and at the courage and strength of my wife and other mothers who go through the birth experience. I was also immensely grateful that I could be present at the birth, something in the past denied to most fathers, and help Bonnie go through it. To me, that is one of the things that a real man should do for his wife.

From then on, we decided together, one at a time, God willing, to have more children. We used natural family planning to space out our children. That was a huge help for my wife. It amazingly worked, although we found out that it is not as predictable for many other women for a variety of reasons. It takes special cooperation from a husband.

No one could have convinced me at the beginning that we would be blessed to the extent of having 8 children. Many couples can only have a few children with some sadly and increasingly now not able to have any, often through no fault of their own. Oh, and I want to emphasize that by the fourth child, having more children became much less stressful. That was because they started to take care of each other, we were no longer learning the most difficult lessons of parenthood, and most of our initial fears disappeared. Getting through the difficulties in parenting the first two was by far the hardest.  

Having a large family is not as impossible as most assume, but it was challenging and often exhausting. We trusted in Providence a great deal, but I have also always worked very hard to provide for my family. Various people were surprisingly helpful to us, especially because of my pro-life work.

I am incredibly grateful that, after our conversion, we did not wait to start having children and for the incredible gift of my fatherhood. There is NOTHING more significant in life for a man. It also rapidly forces a maturity that would otherwise not happen to most men. I strongly encourage every young married man to be open to having children right away. Men are often the ones who want to wait. Not a wise idea.

From all of my past life experiences, I realized that I had certain fundamental duties as a father and husband, regardless of my weaknesses and faults, of which I knew I had many. No man should consider himself to be a superman who can consistently do everything very well or without making some serious mistakes of judgment along the way. But neither should we fear trying to do the very best with what we have been given.

Every father has been raised in a family of some sort, the positives and negatives of which he always brings into his marriage and to his role as a father. And then he has to make the best of that. I received some excellent benefits from my parents. But I also endured some major challenges from how I was raised. For instance, my parents argued a great deal and often in front of their children.  I knew I must not do that and had to try to do even better than my parents who themselves had to cope with great challenges from their upbringing. They would have wanted me to do that.

My own father, a WWII veteran, was a good, generous man, but there were things that he did that I vowed I would not do or otherwise do much better. He suffered for life from horrendous war experiences and battled those demons throughout his life. Sometimes very angry, frightening outbursts from him were just one of the manifestations of that personal struggle. It took me many years to finally understand this and his other struggles and to therefore be more forgiving of my father for some of these painful experiences.

Still, he was very strong on the importance of family because of his own poor upbringing and the trials and heartaches that he endured from that. His relationship with his own distant father was not good. It was difficult for him not having a good model to guide his own fatherhood. All things considered then, he did incredibly well and I honour him and am forever grateful for the father who raised and really did love me and my 5 brothers and sisters. I was blessed to have been with him at the exact moment of his peaceful death.

Steve’s parents’ wedding day in Holland 1945. His mother was a Dutch war bride to his father who was a Canadian soldier who liberated the family

Parents always want their children to exceed them, and my children have wonderfully done so in many ways. I consider all my sons to be better fathers than I have been, but I attribute that to the formation and influences Bonnie and I exposed them to that we were lacking in our own upbringing and influences.  

I’d like to share with you the personal commitments I have made to myself and my family:

1. Above all, trust in God and try to live a good, holy life to the best of my ability. Don’t expect perfection and don’t despair from inevitable failures. It is the constant effort that counts.

2. Love my wife at all times to the best of my ability and show my children that I love her and apologize when I fail in this, as we all do. Let the children know that our marriage is precious to me. I knew from my own upbringing how incredibly important that was. Children are hugely affected by the relationship between their parents.

3. Constantly pray for my children and pray in an extra special way for any of them during times when they are in need of such prayers. There have been many such times, the worst being when one of my sons was gravely injured in a car accident in the United States and was not at all expected to live by the doctors treating him. When I was first told about the accident as I was coming up to the house from a weekend retreat, I gathered the family around and led them in a thanksgiving prayer for the acceptance of the Will of God and for the healing of my son. He amazingly lived, and went on to graduate, marry, finish law school, and have five children. There have been many other situations for each of the other children that called for a father’s prayers. My prayers for them will never end as long as I live. 

4. Be immensely grateful for and love each of my children. Each one has been different, and no one is more lovable or important than the other. Fatherly love does not end even after death for those who know there is life after death. We fathers must try to imitate the love of God the Father, the ultimate father, even though we of course will never remotely come close to that perfection. It is only the striving that matters. Faults and failures can always be forgiven. I don’t at all claim to have been a perfect father, but I have done my best.One of the big highlights of fatherhood has been walking my three daughters down the aisle to marry their husbands. Oh, that was so wonderful!

5. Make the greatest effort to pass on a natural faith life to each of our children and not force it. This is absolutely essential. I have observed some Catholic families force their children to go to daily Mass and say a daily rosary, or attend special events, no matter how much effort was involved. In many cases that has terribly backfired for some of the families or at least not been helpful. Transmission of faith comes from relationships, leading by example, and not from pressure or preaching. However, while they lived at home, we insisted that each child at least attend weekly Mass for consistency in the family. That became less enforceable when they were much older, and we wisely backed off. 

6. Make sure that our children develop healthy, positive friendships and other relationships during their years of growing up. We made a lot of deliberate efforts in that regard. It was the right thing to do, especially considering what we observed happen to the children of some of our friends.

7. Try as frequently as possible to be home for dinner with the family. That was a big challenge at times because of my work and the occasional long work commutes. I felt terrible when I was not home for dinner with the family. I knew that the children having their father home to sit down with them for dinner was very important and a critical lesson for them about the value of family life. We knew of too many fathers who were rarely at home for the family dinner. Not good, but it is understandable that it is often not possible for some.

8. Think far ahead about and pray for what kind of spouse I would like each of my children to marry and do whatever is practical, but not pushy or interfering, to help make a good decision happen. Too many parents are devastated by their children making poor life decisions on marriage. The best thing is to just subtly present good marriages to the children and that is where consistently good choices in movie and video viewing also come in. There is no more important decision that your children will make than who they will marry.

9. I have always been strong on selecting good, inspiring, healthy entertainment, including movies and programs, for our children. During our first 15 years of marriage, we did not even have a television in our home. It ended up having been the best decision. Both Bonnie and I endured parents who always had the television on. It drove us crazy. We did not want our children to have to endure that mind-numbing experience.

We quickly learned that school can be a moral and spiritual landmine for our young children. I observed the children of numerous otherwise good families destroyed from the parents sending them to regular Catholic or secular schools and universities. Our own lives, but especially my own, were examples of what the modern, Marxist-inspired education system can so easily do to rob children of their innocence, religious faith, good intentions, and happiness.

We kept an eye on what was being taught in kindergarten and grades one and two and especially during school assemblies where we sent our first few children to school. We quickly learned that our local schools had some teachers and curricula tending towards a corrupt liberal indoctrination system. Of course, not all teachers were that way. Some were wonderful. But there was an unmistakable trend towards destroying children and their families’ lives. Our suspicions eventually proved to be correct.

I knew that as a father I had to be aggressive in ensuring that my children received an education and developed friendships that enhanced their lives and gave them a good chance to be happy in the years ahead.  We switched to home schooling, and even though Bonnie was an elementary school teacher, it was too much of a burden for her in the big city where there was no local support system. So, we later became involved in starting two private schools that taught OUR values and beliefs. We were far less concerned about the high quality of the science, math, and other curriculum subjects, as important as they are, than we were about the faith and moral principles that were transmitted in these schools.  

It was brutally difficult to keep up with the challenges of paying the tuition and other costs and efforts involved in having our children in those schools. They were years of exhausting effort, but it has proven to be totally worth it. The right schooling is incredibly important for children.

All seven of my children’s marriages have been what any parents would dearly wish for. All our children still get along marvelously well and enjoy each other’s company. It is wonderful when we get together, especially with all the grandchildren there.

Now we are in the grandparent years and what a blessing that has been. There have been a lot of grandchildren, and there likely are still more to come. They have been a source of much joy and frequent laughter. They help to keep us young. As a grandfather, I marvel at how loving the grandchildren are towards Bonnie and me. That comes from their parents. I very much enjoy being a grandfather.

Here are rules for grandfathers that I have learned through trial and error:

1. Your children still depend on you but in a very different way. They need our affirmation, not lecturing.

2. Don’t interfere in how your children are raising their children (except for very serious reasons). Our role must be one of support and affirmation.

3. Enjoy the grandchildren and affirm each of them and let them know you love every one of them.

4. Above all, gently let your grandchildren know how important God is in your life and that He should also be important in theirs.

5. Set a spiritual example for your grandchildren simply by how you live your faith life – not by lecturing or preaching.

In the case of being a father or a grandfather, it is always a challenge that has great potential, life-long benefits. It truly is the most wonderful thing in the world for any man. The rewards and meaningfulness are just awesome.  

Yes, mistakes are inevitable. The very best things in life never come easy. The best things come as a result of heroic effort, sacrifices and prayer, but they are all totally worth it.  

We fathers must strive to be men of example, not be afraid of the challenges of family life, be forgiving of our own inevitable faults and failures, and above all, trust in God to make up for our deficiencies. It is incredible how good He is to those men who just try their best to be what He has made them to be.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the fathers who read LifeSiteNews! We value and support the all-important role that you have. From us you will always receive the encouragement and affirmation that is often lacking in modern culture for fathers. 

Steve Jalsevac
Co-Founder and President

P.S. Read LifeSiteNews consistently. It will help you to become a better father and husband and to protect your family from all those who want to destroy it.

And as a way to honor and praise a special father in your life, please consider donating to LifeSiteNews in their name to thank them for their commitment to their pro-life and pro-family values. When making a donation, please indicate their name and address and our team will send them a beautiful Father’s Day card on your behalf. 


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Steve is the co-founder and managing director of