When a child receives a disability diagnosis the impact leads to a ripple effect on the entire family. Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them!) focuses on this ripple effect for fathers. Gary Dietz completes this objective by collecting essays and poems which contain insights from real life experiences. Mostly written by fathers with disabled children but also other family members whether wives, ex-wives, sons or daughters these essays and poems will leave a profound impact on readers.
The book’s foreword written by Boston University School of Medicine’s MaryAnn Campion highlights the whole need for a book like Dads of Disability. As Campion writes “Resources for, by, and about fathers have been few and far between, with limited places for men to turn when they find themselves facing life’s unexpected challenges.”
Possessing such a place to turn to proves crucial to allowing a family to reach their greatest potential. “Running Away” by Jack Barr Jr. demonstrates said point. He writes candidly about how he contemplated leaving his wife and daughter with Down syndrome. Lessons bestowed upon him by his late father however kept him from leaving. Jack Barr Jr. goes on to write “When you choose to leave a child behind, you are not escaping to an easier life, but instead, ruining a life you helped create. No child should have to grow up without a loving father in her life.”
“Running Away” provides only one example showcasing real blunt honesty. “Kind of Heavy” by Tom Lawrence remains another. In that entry Lawrence admits “I was in mourning for the loss of things I never actually had—the loss of an ideal unrealized future. The loss of dreams I had for him and for me.”
Now in both “Running Away” and “Kind of Heavy” the fathers ended up stepping up to become loving, supportive dads. Love and support persist throughout the book’s entirety, to a point matching maternal love. Paul Digby’s essay “What Does His Mother Think?” directly addresses the aforementioned. Digby proceeds to write “These fathers are not merely helpers but are peer, if not primary, caregivers. They deserve to be heard and acknowledged within the medical system and by society as a whole.”
Elizabeth O’Neil shares a similar sentiment when writing about her ex-husband in the essay “The Right Thing.” Regarding her ex-husband and their daughters she pens “He sees things in them that I don’t see, and he knows things about them that I couldn’t possibly know—not because he’s a man, but because he is their father. My daughters have 23 of his chromosomes and 23 of mine. They are half him and half me.”
Overall Dads of Disability features 40 entries, every one which I could go on to speak about here. Yet I think I will digress and just encourage you to read Dads of Disability yourself. To learn where you can find the book click here.
*Review based on the Kindle version of Dads of Disability. Author Gary Dietz provided the copy in exchange for an honest review.