Dads of Disability is a collection of essays, poems and stories by and about Dads and how they cope with being a father to a disabled child. These stories were collected and edited by Gary Dietz, also a father to a disabled child.
" This is not a 'how-to' book or a book of '5-ways to do this' or '10-ways to do that.' Rather, this collection uses a storytelling approach to illuminate the emotional lives of these fathers. Dads of Disability will begin or extend the conversation between and amongst fathers, mothers, extended families, care circles, and individuals with disabilities themselves. This book is for fathers and mothers. For friends and support circles. For care professionals. For teachers. For friends trying to understand their neighbor's challenges. For anyone interested in the variety of the emotional lives of fathers whose children experience a disability. "
Each essay or poem gives an in depth look inside the mind and heart of a dad at various crucial and defining moments in his parenthood journey. These are not just feel good Hallmark stories. These aren't stories of saints in suits swooping in like Superman saving the day without breaking a sweat. No, these are real dads dealing with real life struggles of parenting a disabled child. And while they do sometimes save the day, the men in these stories don't want to be seen as heroes. They just want to be seen as dads.
Every story is brutally honest, such as the story of the man who admits that he considered running away in a time of weakness and despair, but after contemplating the benefits of own childhood with a present, dependable and steadfast father in his life, has no choice but to reconsider.
One father talks about how reluctant he was to consider his wife's observations that "something was wrong". His struggle to overcome denial and walk into acceptance is a journey any parent of a child with disability can appreciate.
Another dad talks about learning, accepting and respecting his son's limits. He learns the hard way that there's a thin line between encouraging and pushing too hard.
Still another dad talks about the anticipation he felt when learning he was of having a son. He reminisces on how he planned to bond and to share father and son activities with his child. His child's severe disabilities changed all of those well-laid plans. This dad had to learn to adjust, accept and appreciate the kind of relationship he can have with son.
The are also stories by women about the dads of these children. One of my personal favorites was by a wife writing with such admiration for the fix-it dad armed only with his tool kit who manages to make all kinds of adaptations for his physically disabled son so that he can enjoy the same experience as other kids his age, even when it may scare his mom to death!
As the father of a severely disabled teenager, Gary Dietz didn't just collect and edit these essays, he has added his own voice to the stories in this book. His passion about the changing roles of fathers, especially of disabled children inspired this crowd sourced and crowd funded labor of love. Visit Gary's blog here.
There are many sites, blogs, support groups for mothers of special needs children. As a mom of one of those children, I can assure you these are definitely needed. Before reading "Dads of Disability" I never realized that Dad's have their own unique feelings and experiences about parenting special needs children. Their voice also deserves to be heard. Reading these stories prompted me to have conversations in my own house about how our journeys and experiences can differ greatly while parenting the same child. The desire for a deeper dialogue is the greatest gift a book like this can give.