Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge

For a while, as I read Thomas’ book, I thought, perhaps, it was Cosby who was the catalyst for Thomas’ efforts. However, Thomas says in the previous chapter it was his mother that was the inspiration for his project.

In Chapter Nine: “Dear Mama: Helping Single Mothers Shoulder the Burden,” Thomas declares it was his mother, who raised him and his brother single-handedly, that was the source of his inspiration. “Some of you might wonder what a chapter on single mothers is doing sitting in the middle of a book about fatherhood. My answer is simple – because so many single mothers other there, including my own, are forced to take on the role of the father in the household. …

Atlanta Hawks star, Joe Johnson, who calls his mom “superwoman,” joins Pastor John Jenkins, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others in sharing their thoughts about the courage and sacrifice of single moms.

Yet, in this book that praises older men who are mentors, devotes an entire chapter to the Cosby controversy and even has a chapter that focuses on debunking the myth that professional athletes have children from different mothers in every major city the players visit, there is not a single essay, no passing thoughts, let alone an entire chapter on single fathers.

According to July 25, 2011 article by Joel Stonington and Frank Bass in Bloomberg News: There has been “a 27.3 percent jump in U.S. families led by single fathers in the past decade, according to figures released by the 2010 census. … Single dads now account for 8 percent of American households with children, up from 6.3 percent in 2000 and 1.1 percent in 1950, census data show. “The article quotes Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, who states: “It’s time for us to stop assuming that single parents are always women. There is presence now of single men caring for their kids. We didn’t see that a few decades ago.”

Yet there is no presence of single dads in Thomas’ book. I would have loved to have read an essay from David Goldman. He’s the New Jersey dad who waged a five-year battle over two continents involving presidents of both the United States and Brazil to bring home his son, Sean. Sean was only 9 years old when Goldman finally won his epic struggle. When Sean was only four, Sean’s mother and Goldman’s wife, Bruna, took Sean on what was to be a two-week vacation. She never returned. Instead, she divorced Goldman married a Brazilian man from a prominent and politically well connected family and shortly thereafter she died. Goldman fought against all odds to gain custody of his son, who was living at the time with his stepfather who didn’t want to give him up.

No, there is nary a comment about single dads, who in this writer’s opinion, share the title with single moms and step parents of having arguable the toughest job on the planet. (In the spirit full disclosure, I am not only a fan of the Single Dads club, I am a member.)

Thomas’s work might have been far more powerful, and surely more balanced if those fathers had been included.

About the Book Review Author

Curtis Austin was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his columns on the family during his tenure at the Dallas Times Herald. For his work as a “family” columnist, he was named Columnist of the Year (for newspapers with a circulation of 150,000 or greater) by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He is the proud father of straight-A, eight-year-old son, Christopher Austin.

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One comment on “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge

  1. muriel cooper says:

    I feel like I have a great introductory to the book thanks to the in-depth review. I see what some people are getting for Christmas!

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