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Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Five Secrets Great Dads Know" (Paul Coughlin)

TITLE: Five Secrets Great Dads Know
AUTHOR: Paul Coughlin
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2010, (64 pages).

In preparation for Father's Day tomorrow, here is a brief review of one little book that is packed with wisdom. It is suitable for the busy person who does not have much time to read. The author, a father of three talks about the importance for fathers to manifest and to cultivate character traits in their children. He starts the book by emphasizing the need for fathers to know their role, that is unique and different from mothers. Men and women differ physically, emotionally, psychologically, and behave in distinct ways. Raising good kids who are active, innovative, confident, courageous, virtuous, are some of the values great dads will take responsibility in. The book is arranged in "five secrets."

#1 - Great Dads are Good Guys, not Nice Guys

Here Coughlin confesses that at the beginning, he thinks that a good Christian is a "Christian Nice Guy" (CNG). By focusing on things that one should or should not do, men have largely missed the point. One needs to be intentional about being a "Christian Good Guy" (CGG). This means courage, love, and discipline. It means being able to see the world for what it is, not to be worldly, but to know the contraints of the world. Otherwise, children grow up soft, immature, and incapable of facing the tough real world. Masculinity means assertiveness, and not mere aggressiveness.  It means respectful treatment of all, not rude questioning of everything. Great dads cultivate good self-control and self-worth.

#2 - Great Dads Have 'Thumos'

The Greek word "Thumos" is not either head or heart. It means the convergence of the head and the heart that leads to action.  It means courageous faith.

Thumos (Greek): Courageous faith. Guts (blue collar definition). A vital capacity for life: an expression, a movement, an action, and living that's right here and right now. A container of spiritual heat and spiritual juice. A pugnacious yet playful drive; an attribute that separates the men from the males." (27)

With thumos, men can shake off fear and stand up in courage, willing to make sacrifices when necessary, maintaining fortitude in perseverance, and always mindful of others.

#3 - Great Dads Love and Protect Their Kids

It is important not to abandon our children. It is equally important not to make them feel abandoned. This means being present for the children. It means protecting them.  It means helping kids grow up well. It means affirming them with brave and loving words. Lead them well and pave the way.

#4 - Great Dads Give Their Kids Wings

This means gradually moving their children from dependence to independence. Great dads do not aim at quick and easy fixes, but enable their kids to have a long term, resilient, and to tough it out when necessary. This may even mean that at times, kids are allowed to fail, and learn to be gracious about it all. Let not fear drive development. Instead, let courage and love lead the way. Coughlin reminds us the difference between protection and over-protection. The former allows children to take risks and accept any result. The latter prevents kids from facing their own troubles.

#5 - Great Dads Raise Confident, Adventurous Kids

This means training children to grow up to confront fear without shirking back, danger without being afraid, uncertainty and intimidation without losing one's sense of worth. Courage is more caught than taught. Great dads will live out the values of courage, virtues of honour, dignity, and humility. Going on adventures can develop children's confidence and courage.

These five secrets are not rocket science knowledge. They are everyday values that children need. I am aware that some dads offer up excuses like, "I have never been brought up well, so how can I be a great dad?"

The answer is, the moment you know, you have the opportunity to do something about it. What has happened in our past need not enslave us in our present and future. Let God help us be great dads. Let God free us from the tyranny of the past. Let God equip us to be the best dads we can be.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers!


This review is based on my personal copy of the book, a Kindle version.

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