He’s had many names.
When you were small, he was Daddy and you remember how he liked that. He was Dad for awhile, sometimes Pop, occasionally Old Man, Father, and a few things that can’t be printed. But no matter what you called him, he left a big impression on you.
But what did you learn from Dear Old Dad? What kind of legacy are you leaving your children? In the new book “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge” by Etan Thomas (with Nick Chiles), some of our best-known daddies weigh in.
Generations ago, it seemed that fathers were breadwinners, disciplinarians, and little else. They loved their children, but caring for them was what their mama did; it was never expected of a father. This, as well as the unfortunate rate of fatherless households, has caused many men to be unfamiliar with what fatherhood could be.
But there’s “beauty and manliness in showing love and affection toward your kids,” says Thomas. There are “joys of fatherhood,” and this book was written with the hope that men could finally learn to seize that joy.
The first lesson is easy: Be there. Stay in your children’s lives, stay actively involved, offer them one-on-one time, keep it simple, and learn to listen because those “little moments” will affect your lives.
Use the best of what you had growing up and make memories with your kids. Let the happy times “sit on your heart.” Don’t be afraid to show love, and don’t forget that discipline is also love. Know that “the key is constant contact” and that there are some things that only a man can teach a kid. Also, know where you came from, take pride in yourself, and remember that your kids are watching you.
There are, says Thomas, many “…guys who could be swayed, moved, pushed into better lives if more of us just let them know we care.”
“Fatherhood” seems, at first, to be an ambitious project.
The authors pulled together fathers from the sporting world, Hollywood, music, movies, and politics, and asked them to write essays on being a dad and on their own fathers. Thomas says he wanted his book to be the first place young men go when any issue concerning fatherhood arises.
It was ambitious—and well-done.
Just reading this book will make you smile because of the simple pleasure that oozes from its pages. This is a book that kids will be glad their dad reads. It’s also the book moms have been waiting for because, in fact, Thomas includes a chapter that remarkably lauds single mothers.
If you’re a dad or about to be one, or if you need a gift for your own father, you can’t go wrong with this wonderful, joyous book.
(“Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge” by Etan Thomas with Nick Chiles, foreword by Tony Dungy, essays by various men, New American Library, $25.95, 291 pages.)