I confess to being in tears as I read No Perfect Fathers Here. First I was challenged as a father and grandfather about the continued importance and place of my own fathering skills.
Second, I was inspired to continue my work as a therapist to help people who have been deeply affected by poor fathering in their childhood. Working for 20 years as a therapist - first as a counsellor, then as a psychotherapist and play therapist - I have come across literally hundreds of people who can trace their emotional difficulties directly to problems with father-figures. The man/men in their lives have abandoned, abused, ignored or belittled them. It sometimes seems like an international epidemic.
John Bowlby, the great attachment theorist, saw the importance of the baby and small child bonding with both father and mother. Now his son, Sir Richard Bowlby, has taken up his father's mantle. Quoting a 25-year study, he has pointed out that babies and toddlers played with by a man such as a father grow into their 20s with more emotional resources and balance than those where no male figure was present.
In this book Chris Spicer scratches where society itches in this vital area. He sees a father as coach, cheerleader, composer, champion and many more. Using vignettes of real people, he stresses the importance of consistent, loving fathering.
He warns readers, in a tongue-in-cheek way, that this role is not easy. Fatherhood, he says, `may seriously affect your mental health and sense of physical well-being. Should not be taken lightly without first consulting a doctor, minister, bank manager and therapist, as this role will invade your privacy, test your sanity and irreversibly damage your prosperity' (page 29).
This book is required reading for all fathers, fathers-to-be, grandfathers and uncles. I also recommend it to single men of all ages. They can be fathers to the fatherless of society - children growing up in single-parent families, colleagues at work or in church who need a father-figure.
If enough men read this book and put into practice its great ideas, society will be a different place, I and thousands of other therapists will then have to find another job.
Roger Day PTSTA (Psychotherapy), UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Play Therapist