David Atkinson’s movingly honest book describes coping with Fatherhood in our fast-moving world.
The book is extremely well researched. It features a vivid cast of fathers, who relate their own real-life experiences of fatherhood, thus building up an amazing collage of human stories. The stories give a stunning picture of their trials, tribulations and indeed, their celebrations.
You could call them “case studies”, but the book consists of informal, beautifully written interviews, which make you feel you’re sipping tea and nibbling biscuits with David and each dad. And reading the words of these guys, you’ll laugh out loud, but you may also sob out loud. You’ll enter a world where these fathers are doing their utmost for their children, despite life experiences that can astound you. They’ve all promised to be there for their children and they pull out all the stops to do so.
The book opens with an intro from David. He’s devoted to his daughters and through his time as a lone father, it’s clear that he’s discovered immense reserves of strength in himself.
So settle on your sofa with David’s characters. One guy you meet is stepdad; Dom. He’s a Musician, who suddenly found himself in midst of a new family rather than gigging crazily around America. This was a massive change of circumstance and difficult to shrug off. However, he’s worked hard at his new life and feels he’s now fully invested in being a stepdad. And although he knows the situation is ongoing, he’s prepared to accept the graft. He’s determined to be with his beloved new family.
And we meet Neil, who until his Mexican wife’s death had been “living the dream”. Neil suddenly found himself wading through grief, and with a mass of other problems and two boys to bring up, he felt desperate. But gradually Neil saw that focusing on his own grief wasn’t helping. It was up to him to establish a network of new people in new places. His loneliness and grief had been painful but he searched hard for ways to be soothed and therefore help his sons.
We meet Scott too, a recovered heroin addict. He has a chaotic history of alcohol and drug abuse, but his life turned around on meeting his lovely wife, then making a family with her and gradually realising that by setting the right patterns, fathers lay strong foundations for future generations. Scott reckons it’s important that fathers “make peace” with their past because the hurt of a father’s childhood can seep into the childhood of his family
Then there’s Richard, who’s nearly 80. His own father died in WW1 in 1941 and decades later, Richard admits he still feels he’s coming to terms with his loss. As a boy, he felt lonely and neglected. He lived in his own fantasy world, desperate for a father figure in his life. Richard, now with four grown-up children from his two marriages, reckons he got a lot wrong as a father but most importantly, he was always there for his children and they could never doubt his love.
There are other fathers in David’s book. They include Absent dad Steve, Adoptive dad Graham, Stay-at-home dad Dave and Midlife dad Darren, all with stories to tell.
‘Inside Fatherhood’ is a warm and revealing book, telling of the complex world of modern fatherhood in our hectic society. David’s stories echo with sadness but also celebrate remarkable joys. He’s bringing up his own two daughters and says is grateful to be at the cornerstone of their lives.
As both a mother and grandmother, I fully appreciated David’s frank, masculine insight into many aspects of fatherhood today. Please read this special book. It will stay with you long after you finish it.
Published by brf.org.uk, purchase your copy here.