At worst, our society seems to portray fathers as unnecessary, expendable and even interchangeable. They are reduced to being sources of income or seen as useful only for repairs or other types of physical labor. The increasingly common phrase "baby daddy" seems to say it all. After providing the seed, what use is there for a man?
Society has attempted to answer this question by filling in the gaps left by absent fathers. Dad's paycheck and responsibilities have been assumed by the taxpayer and the government. Programs provide money for food, shelter, health care and the myriad psychological effects of children being raised by children. Discipline and guidance for the fatherless is meted out by police and courts. The government, however, has proven a poor surrogate for a father.
To be sure, there are voices emerging that connect the diminishing role of the father with poverty, crime and overall social disintegration. There may be no better time to understand what role fathers play in the lives of their children and in society as a whole.
"We see, through Joe Cohen's lens, an understanding about fatherhood begotten from the strife he endured from a distant, uncommunicative father," wrote Alfred Guart, Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative reporter, New York Post, and former journalism professor, St. John's University in the Foreword of Write Father, Write Son: A Bond-Building Journey. "We discover what a male parent has to offer the world as a result of someone missing it in his own life. Perhaps through absence the heart does grow fonder."
Personally, and through his work as a teacher and reporter, Mr. Guart explains that he had come to see firsthand and deeply understood that no amount of food stamps, welfare checks, step-fathers, remedial education programs or guidance counseling can fill the emotional and psychological gap left by a missing father. There is no replacement for a caring, supportive, stable and protective father in the lives of children.
"A growing number of men today are finding themselves struggling to be effective fathers with no personal experience upon which to build," said Mr. Guart. "They will have to, as I once did, father themselves. It is a long and difficult process in which you have to step back and advise yourself on what to do, think or say in challenging situations. I found books and articles on fatherhood helpful as I confronted the daunting task of raising my own son and daughter."
Write Father, Write Son: A Bond-Building Journey explores fatherhood through the correspondence between a father and son, leaving a paper trail on the matter, so to speak. Through the letters and stories, we see how a man struggles to be a better, more accessible father than the one he knew. We see a boy mature and become a young, responsible man of insight and compassion. Through this compelling book, we see how much the world needs fathers. Good fathers.
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