Review: The Sixty Minute Father

Rob Parsons is the founder of Care for the Family which describes itself as a charity "working to strengthen family life" and "motivated by Christian compassion" but whose "resources and support are available to everyone, of any faith or none."  (For more information see their online booklet Because Family Life Matters).  The book the The Sixty Minute Father by Parsons is published under the Care for the Family banner.  That background is important, in case you come to the book thinking this is explicitly Christian or Biblical teaching on being a father - it's not, although you may be able to discern some Christian principles behind it.

The book is written on the premise that dads need to be more intentional both in making time for their children and in using that time fruitfully, especially in the light of the overly busy lives of many dads in our current society (Parsons starts with the illustration of the dad in the film Hook).

He outlines 10 goals for fathers:

  1. Seize the Day
  2. Dispel the Illusions (illusions about being unable to make time now)
  3. Give Love Without Strings
  4. Praise My Children
  5. Laugh More with My Children
  6. Set Boundaries
  7. Not to Delegate the Big Issues
  8. Rediscover the Ordinary
  9. Forge a Strong Relationship
  10. The Final Goal (letting your children go as they grow up)
Taking this book on its own terms, it is brilliant advice and wisdom for fathers and prospective fathers.  Parsons is a gifted communicator, selecting stories and illustrations to make the points well, using sixty minute summaries and short achievable action pages.  The book is short and punchy - an easy and achievable read for busy dads.

I suspect like me you will find that some of the goals are more relevant to you than others and that some are tougher to achieve than others.  Sometimes this will be due to circumstances, sometimes to personality.  However, I reckon it is a book that will make most dads think more and could significantly improve your relationship with your children.

I suspect most will be challenged by the goals to spend productive time with their children.  However, I wondered if goal 7 may be the most significant.  We live in an age where our children are educated and entertained almost entirely independently from us and then we are surprised when they don't share our faith, values and views.  I think it explains why generations of children have left the church - perhaps it's not because the church youth ministry wasn't zingy enough, but because the parents outsourced the big issues.

It's worth saying that this book will not be enough for Christian dads in thinking about their parenting.  The lack of biblical content is, ultimately, a serious lack, because parenting happens within a framework and Christians will want to make that framework biblical and explicit and understand it.  The depth to fatherhood that there is in the Christian faith, where we have God for our Fathe,r is profound and significant and the Bible does have specific teaching for fathers to consider and apply (e.g. Ephesians 6:4).

However, with that framework in place, the Christian can see, with Parsons' help, some wonderful ways to apply biblical principles and work out how to be a dad and I praise God for that.

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