Dads Behaving Dadly: 67 Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood is a unique collection of essays written by more than four dozen active fathers. While each story is different, the underlying theme is that none of these dads has ever had the desire to “babysit” their children or pass on the responsibilities of raising, loving and nurturing them.
Indeed, each has chosen to be on the front lines of raising his children and have invested much time and great effort to make sure he has no reason to ever think “I didn’t pay enough attention to my kids.”
As an at-home dad myself, I enjoyed reading all the essays in this collection because they completely debunk many of the fallacies floating around about men and their ability to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of being a parent. Here are a few of my favorites.
I loved reading Sean Rose’s contribution, “Daddying with Doctors.” A dad from Tennessee, Sean recounts his experiences overcoming the prejudices of his daughter’s ignorant doctors. I truly felt Sean’s frustration at the medical staff who insisted on speaking to his wife about their daughter Sophia’s rare illness rather than to him. And it was satisfying to imagine being a fly on the wall in that office as Sean verbally and effectively put them to shame for their blatant and irresponsible sexism.
Similarly, I enjoyed Oregonian Ben Petric’s testimony in “Night Becomes Us.” His tale of battling Parkinson’s disease which took away his physical ability to his raise his daughter was as painful to read as it was eloquent. It also showed that despite his physical condition, he still has a vision of the active father he wants to be. His small success of finally being able to soothe his daughter back to sleep after waking from a nightmare was inspiring.
In the superbly passionate “The Places My Mind Goes,” NYC Dads Group member Lorne Jaffe describes the anxiety and depression that consume him on a daily and nightly basis. With this, Lorne shows us a side of fatherhood most of us don’t get to hear about. In essence, his daughter Sienna’s love for him and his love for her can bring him back from the abyss of depression. Lorne’s honesty and openness with regard to his feelings and anxiety truly comes through in his writing.
What I loved most about Dads Behaving Dadly, however, is that it simply shows numerous definitions of modern fatherhood exist today, as well as many paths to fatherhood. Some struggled physically just to become dads. Some felt the grief and pain of loss before fully experiencing the joy of having children. Some took over the role of dad for an absent genetic father. And some split from their child’s mother in order to be the kind of dads they want to be.
Most important is that whatever vision each of the fathers of Dads Behaving Dadly hold, the book as a whole reveals most of all a group of men who are proving that being a father has much more to do with one’s actions and what is in his heart than with shared genetic material.
Disclosure: City Dads Group members Chris Bernholdt, Jason Greene, Mike Heenan, Don Jackson, David Kepley, Kevin McKeever, Christopher VanDijk are also contributing authors to Dads Behaving Dadly. Here a few of them and book editor Al Watts discuss the book on The Modern Dads Podcast.
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