My earliest notes that I have found are dated in 1999. I was forty-nine years old, still busy as a civilian engineer in the aircraft industry, and a colonel in the Missouri Air National Guard. I had one daughter who had just graduated from The University of Missouri School of Journalism, a son who was attending college, and a second daughter still in high school. They were all doing well and my wife, Kathy, and I were so proud of them. It’s now 16 years later and our three children continue to thrive as are our three grandchildren and one on the way. And those notes, started in 1999, are now coming out as a book about fathering. My publisher, www.Familius.com, so incredible to have taken a chance on an unknown author, will be releasing “The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Children Need” on April, 28th. (It can be ordered in advance by clicking on the title, or going to Amazon.)
It was not my original intention to formally write a book. I had never been a writer or even much of a reader up until this time. No, these notes were to be organized and left to my children to let them know about what I had learned while raising them--through the mistakes I had made in ignorance, and my desire to be a better dad than the one that had fathered me and my five siblings. It was written as lessons to my children, and hopefully to my nieces and nephews. But I found it could be useful to any parent, especially men, who commonly need more help in the world of parenting than women.
I used to stop at restaurants that provided free Wi-Fi on the way home from work to brainstorm and research fatherhood and parenting websites. I reflected on where I was as a parent and how I got to be who I am. I thought about the struggles my hard-working mother had raising six children without emotional or monetary support from my father. I was saddened by the impact having an absent father had on, not only me, but my brothers and sisters.
Most, if not all of us Smith kids, grappled with a lack of confidence and self-worth. Some had minor skirmishes with authority or teen pregnancies. All, but myself, failed to get a high school degree in a traditional fashion*. Subsequently, our next generation has a mix of remarkable achievements and of continuing struggle. Not surprisingly, those in the next generation who continue to struggle have father issues. I have two great-grandnephews whose parents are not married. This is a string of five generations, starting with my father, that have had father issues, i.e. having no idea how to be, or caring to be, a father.
Without some intervening event or miracle, the father absence issue (physical and/or mental) will continue and multiply. In my book, I call this situation the ‘Cycle of Despair’—fatherless girls looking for male acceptance and finding it in fatherless boys, anxious to prove their masculinity to someone who cares for them. These boys don’t know how to be a father and often run away from the responsibility. It’s a recipe for more fatherless children.
My original subtitle was “A Better Society, One Child at a Time”. I had chosen this subtitle because struggling homes cause a struggling society. My book is full of telling statistics about the startling increase in high school dropouts, teen pregnancies, drug use, crime, mental issues, etc. that all result from an absence of fatherly support. So, every father that receives mentoring and encouragement can help to serve, not only his children, but society.
This is how you can help!
I need a team of informal ambassadors willing to spread the word of my book's launch. Asking for your help is outside my comfort zone. But, this topic is worth it. I'm not doing this for personal profit, nor do I even expect a return on what I've invested in this project. I've noticed a need! While most occupations have a training program, too many new fathers have no clue how important they are to their child, nor how to handle being a dad. This is what I care about—helping these men and their children.
With the help of ambassadors, I can get the word out that my book is available to new fathers, to struggling fathers, to fathers that want to measure themselves against a standard, and to men deciding if fatherhood is for them. It is also for moms, grandparents, wives, sisters, aunts, and friends to give to the men in their lives. After all, many men are not likely to find my book on their own! Your help will get it into the hands of the men whose kids will benefit from my "regular guy" advice, one who has seen both the good, and the bad of fatherhood.
This is truly a grass-roots effort! The goal is to prevent a child’s struggle to deal with life without a committed father to care for them, or to mentor them. As a result, it is also a grass-roots effort to cure the ills of our society, without need for prisons, welfare, or psychologists.
I appreciate anything you are willing to do: forward this post, tell a friend, post it on social media, suggest a place I can speak or sign copies, mention it on your own blog, or buy it for a father you know. If you'd like to preview the book so that you can write a review on Amazon or elsewhere, or if you have ideas to share with me, please write to me at Mike@MichaelByronSmith.com. I would love to communicate with you and pass on book launch info!
Thank you so much for reading my blog posts on ‘Helping Fathers to be Dads’! I don’t always have the best answers about how to parent your children, but I am willing to throw out my thoughts, listen to you, and have a discussion! Our future belongs to our children and their children. Let’s give them the tools to succeed!
Thank you so very much!
*Three siblings now have GED’s and one sister has gone on to receive her college degree!