The Good Dad: Becoming The Father You Were Meant To Be, by Jim Daley with Paul Asay
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Book Look/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
At the core of this book is a mystery, or rather a series of mysteries, and one that I relate to well. It should go without saying that I am not a father at this time, and yet this is one of those books on marriage and parenting that I consider worthwhile to read as preparation for such an opportunity, should it come to pass . Besides that mystery, why a single man would read this book at all, is the mystery of why a man whose childhood was so blighted by the absence of a father would become the successor to the legendary Dr. Dobson as the head of Focus On The Family and write such an eloquent and passionate ode to good fathering. It is not so mysterious that someone whose childhood was marked by abuse or the absence of a father would linger long and often in thoughts about the subject , but that poignant longing in the heart of the author is something I can relate to painfully well, and it gives this book a great deal of depth.
At its heart, this is a straightforward book that seeks to encourage men to take fatherhood seriously, even in the adverse circumstances of our culture, by showing love to children, providing encouragement, giving children fair and firm standards but also the freedom to fail and to develop their character and their persistence, and by providing instruction on the truth and godly virtue that lies within our hearts. Parenting is notoriously tricky business, very risky and hard to do right, and even if a parent does a good job the will of the child plays a major role in that success, which can be heartbreaking. At its heart this book contains a lot of stories of how the author was failed by an abusive and alcoholic father, by a stepfather who was overwhelmed by an inability to connect emotionally with his stepchildren, and by an eccentric foster family who took on children largely for a check from the state, along with stories that show the author’s own struggles to be a better father to his children than he ever knew. How I know that longing in my own heart.
The roughly 200 pages of text in this book deal with the subject of moments (those brief memorable incidents of family life), the look of a father, patching holes (dealing with dysfunctional backgrounds or addictions), nobody’s perfect (dealing with the inevitability of blundering and error), love and duty, reliability, providing enough time for children’s needs, learning and living together, getting messy, taking advantage of time before it is gone forever, and viewing family as the greatest of joys. Considering that our existence on this earth is part of God’s own family plan to raise many sons and daughters to glory, this book is right to focus on the joy of parenting as relating to the desire of God to nurture and increase His own family. This book urges, among its many important lessons (including the “tether of love” that connects parents and children when all else fails) is the lesson that fatherhood often involves the bravery to stand strong in small situations in the absence of those rare major crises, in the little moments where trust and love and self-respect are built in the lives of little ones. This is an encouraging book that ought to be read appreciatively, whether one is a father, or whether one squarely and honestly faces the father hunger one has known and wishes to help protect others from. It should go without saying that this book is full of wise statements quoted from the Bible, from other books, as well as worthwhile songs and movies, but it ought to be understood nonetheless.
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