Reflections on Dad

Daniel  Goodwin has written a thoughtful essay on his father in today’s Globe and Mail. And the reader comments are just as interesting.

Things I Learned from Dad


Father-less-ness resources

I recently received a comment from a gentleman who found this site looking for resources and help and came away disappointed by the lack of it here. (you can see his comment on this site and I encourage engagement with him or me upon reading).

As I explained to him and I hope he understands, this is a fairly new site, created in tandem with a book on which I am working which will present stories by Canadian male writers who have lost their fathers through death; through abandonment due to divorce or separation; or through emotional absence. What I mean to do is provide a jumping off point for comments, thoughts, stories, and a sharing of resources from men to other men, or the women who love and support them.

What I have yet to do, and I will correct that with this post, is to provide the background materials that I used when researching this topic. Some of the books were help guides, written by psychologists, others were stories of fathers and sons that somehow illuminate the issues, resolve them, or just provide insight.

This topic is close to my heart for many reasons, particularly because I have seen too many men in my life, and in general, in pain due to father-loss. I have this idea that a place like this could help to ease the pain a little by providing an open forum for discussion, sharing and also by guiding those who happen upon this site to information that they can use in a practical way.

My commenter thought maybe I was exploiting this topic in order to sell books. I have no connection to the books I recommend here. Upon such time as my own book is published I will of course recommend it because of the important and necessary to tell stories contained within. I am not the writer of said book – I am well aware I don’t qualify by virtue of not being a son without a father. I am the collector and editor of the stories only.

Lately, I have come to believe strongly that men get short shrift in our society and so part of my purpose with this website as well is to be a repository for interesting and insightful books, news articles, stories, websites, etc that address the issues that men regularly deal with, beyond the father/son topic.

Here now though, is my father/son research list, which I am always on the look out to expand. So please feel free to write me with your finds.

A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs, St. Martin’s Press, 2008

Dispatches from the Edge, Anderson Cooper, Harper Collins, 2006

WIth the Boys: Field Notes on Being a Guy, Jake MacDonald, Greystone Books, 2005

Fatherloss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Deaths of Their Dads, Neil Chethik, Hyperion, 2001

In the Shadow of a Saint, Ken Wiwa, Vintage Canada, 2001

Summer Gone, David McFarlane, VIntage Canada, 2000

The Closer We Are to Dying, Joe Fiorito, McClelland & Stewart, 1999

Motion Sickness, David Layton, McFarlane Walter & Ross, 1999

Fathers & Sons, Alberto Manguel, Raincoast Books, 1998

Understanding Men’s Passages, Gail Sheehy, Random House, 1998

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Legacy of Male Depression, Terrence Real, Simon & Schuster, 1997

The Prodigal Father: Reuniting Fathers with Their Children, Mark Bryan, 1997

The Loss That is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father, Maxine Harris, Ph.D, Dutton, 1995

Father-Son Healing: An Adult Son’s Guide, Joseph Ilardo, Ph.D, New Harbinger Publications Inc., 1993

Iron John: A Book About Men, Robert Bly, Vintage, 1992

Nobody’s Father

TorchWood Editions, ed. by Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie

TorchWood Editions, ed. by Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie

Nobody’s Father: Life without Kids is a new anthology of stories by men who, for one reason or another, don’t have children. It’s a sequel of sorts to a 2006 collection of stories by childless women (sometimes called non-mothers).
The Toronto Star Living section is publishing a story from the anthology every day this week.
Nobody’s Mother was an interesting and I think, necessary piece of literature dealing with a taboo topic in our married-with-kids culture. As a middle-aged woman with no children of my own, I found some stories relatable and some others a little disappointing in their stereotypical-ness. I get annoyed by the protesting-too-much quality of accounts of those of us outside the mainstream. I guess because we didn’t mean to be here and are stll trying to work out for ourselves how just living our own course of life turned out to be alternative, and not all that supported by a culture that, despite its diversity, still only fully acknowleges one way to live. 
I rarely get asked why I don’t have children, but that doesn’t stop people from assuming things like, I didn’t want kids, or worse, I don’t like kids, or I can’t have them. Even if I couldn’t, it would be nice to be able to say this outloud once in awhile.  
Somehow I guess it’s more acceptable for men to be without children. Our culture doesn’t fully accept yet that men can father. And so many fathers are separated from their kids, some by choice, others by circumstance, or restricted visitation.
Since we rarely ask men how they feel or what they think, it’s very nice to see that two editors have asked and a publishing company thought it was a good question.
I recommend picking this book up. Today’s excerpted story is by Bruce Gillespie, the anthology’s co-editor. Not surprisingly, it’s on the topic of father-absence.

Save the Males

This is the title of a new book by syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. I’m reading it now, two chapters in, so will withhold my impressions until I’m finished. All I can say is I understand the impulse to write on this topic and the importance of the book in a culture where it’s ok, acceptable and even preferable to bash the other half.

I don’t know Ms. Parker as a columnist but it seems she is touted as right wing. As a woman who often writes about the some-how controversial topic of why men matter I’m not surprised about this moniker. Sadly.

Stay tuned.

Dads are Moms too!

There’s not a huge number of media outlets out there devoted to men only, so lately I’ve been reading Men’s Health, both online and in print, courtesy of an abandoned subscription of a former tenant in my house. In the June issue I came across an interesting article by Neal Pollock, whose book Alterndad has been optioned for a film, and is also the name of a blog he keeps at How refreshing – tips from DADS about how to raise children, no matter how “untraditional.”

Here’s his Men’s Health article: How to Raise a Tough Guy

In fact, Men’s Health has some great father/son wisdom, amidst lots of articles on how to get the girl, the latest and most effective sports drink, how to prevent a heart attack, and fashion advice.

Here’s something by TV’s Craig Ferguson about how the death of his father threw him into full adulthood:

In Dad’s Chair 


Father’s Day

Surfing around the news today, I found some interesting Father’s Day articles. I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t only one way to live in our culture and many people have lives that don’t fit into what was once considered traditional. Times are changing and most of these articles reflect how that affects men:


For some, Father’s Day is a sad and bitter occasion, Ottawa Citizen

Father’s Day: by the numbers, Toronto Star

Tackling the role of Mr. Mom, Toronto Star

Father’s Day celebrated when dad’s not here, San Francisco Chronicle

Dad’s changing role recognized on Father’s Day, Reuters

Father’s Day Special: What Legacy Are You Passing On To Your Children?, Huffington Post

Obama delivers Father’s day sermon, Washington Post

Seven: a new men’s magazine

It can only be good news when a men’s magazine is being launched. I am still mourning the loss of Toro, though it now has a new online version, which I have high hopes for.

Seven is apparently launching this weekend in time for Father’s Day. Though it has a Christian slant, I’m willing to give it a try. Not that I’m anti Christian, just that I prefer inclusiveness. But the first issue is on the theme of fathers and sons.

Here’s the info: Christian men’s magazine set for Father’s Day launch

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