Skip to content

Paternal Presence: Alvaro de Vicente on “Being There”

To watch a video recording of Alvaro’s presentation, click here.

In his intellectual autobiography, Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton’ recounts a sort of parable in which children are given space to play on a mountaintop surrounded by steep precipices on all sides. At first the children are left to play on the mountaintop without any walls. Fearful of falling off one of the edges, they all huddle up in the middle. Then walls are erected, and the security that such walls provide gives the children the confidence they need to play without fear of falling. 

A father’s loving presence can act like such walls in the lives of his children. Yet, at times, the practical realities of life make it difficult for fathers to be fully present in such a way. 

This week on HeightsCast, we feature a talk given by headmaster Alvaro de Vicente on the topic of paternal presence, originally offered at our recent fatherhood conference. Although there are no set manuals for successful parenting, Mr. de Vicente suggests four areas that fathers can consider as they examine the ways they may or may not be present in their children’s lives: 

  1. The importance of paternal presence 
  2. The obstacles to paternal presence 
    1. Professional work 
    2. Personal interests 
    3. Difficult children
  3. The types of presence
    1. Physical 
    2. Intellectual 
    3. Moral 
    4. Spiritual 
  4. The stages of presence 
    1. Holding the hand
    2. Holding the back of the bike
    3. Holding the second steering wheel
    4. Holding the phone

In the end, Alvaro encourages fathers to behave as they would wish their sons to behave when they reach their own age. But when they fail, he also reminds them of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s words: “God doesn’t ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful.”  


  • 0:14 Welcome
  • 2:15 The importance of presence 
  • 5:00 Some challenges to being present 
  • 11:40 Dealing with those challenges 
  • 12:50 Types of presence 
    • 13:00 Physical 
    • 18:55 Intellectual 
    • 27:35 Moral
    • 29:00 Spiritual 
  • 33:10 Stages of presence 
  • 37:40 Takeaways and concluding thoughts 

Also on the Forum 

Friendship for Fathers: On Living and Teaching the Art with Prof. John Cuddeback 

The Bedrock Principle of Fatherhood with Andy Reed

The Father and His Family: On Fatherhood with Michael Moynihan 

Parenting from Fear: On Reasons for Confidence with Alvaro de Vicente 

Parental Authority: On Our Role with Dr. Leonard Sax

About the Guest

Alvaro de Vicente

Headmaster, The Heights School

In addition to his responsibilities as headmaster of The Heights, Alvaro acts as a mentor to high schoolers, and teachers senior Apologetics.

Learn More

Subscribe to The Heights Forum Newsletter

I'm interested in content for...
Select if you'd like to receive a monthly newsletter specifically for any of these educator roles.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.