Book Review: “Dad Rules” for How to be a Better Parent
There is a book—Dad Rules: A Simple Manual for a Complex Job—that consists of 81 rules that any father worth his salt should know. They are rules like: "Cowboy up and help your wife with changing diapers" and "Take care of some of the night-time feedings." While it may seem, at first glance, that this is a manual about how a husband can best please his wife, this is not the case. It is a book about how to be a good parent, with the particular typical tendencies and gifts of men taken into account.
And while we at MomItForward like to offer many tips on how to be a better mom, we just earnestly want to empower our readers to be the best, or rather the hardest-trying parents they can be, whether they are male or female. Dad Rules has a similar purpose. It is, as author Treion Muller puts it, "A collection of rules focused on helping fathers understand what they should know, say, and do—because let’s be honest, there are plenty of awkward moments when you just don’t have the foggiest idea of what you should say or do."
Mr. Muller has a certain amount of authority on the subject, gained from both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. His own father left their family when Treion was only seven years old. His mother passed away when he was 20. He was blessed, though, to have seven "surrogate" dads, as he calls them, who took his dad's place over the years, including: his uncles Henry and Justice, his father-in-law Boyd Murdue, and a college friend's father, into whose family he was "adopted." He has also been blessed with five children of his own—four daughters and a son, ranging in age from 11 to 1½—with his wife Soni.
"Ever since I was young, I didn't want to be my dad, 'that guy' who would leave his family," Treion says. He watched his replacement fathers, analyzing what made a good dad. He read a lot of parenting books. And he learned by doing, with his own children. When it came time to write the book, he wrote it quickly. "It's easy to write about something you're passionate about," he says. It is short and to-the-point, with one rule to a page and a few comments in between. It is not an exhaustive list. It is a "simple manual for a complex job."
If someone were to read this book to find an in-depth analysis of the obstacles men face in becoming good fathers, or for instructions on how to overcome those obstacles, they would be disappointed. The underlying message of Dad Rules is that these are the things that will best help you be the father you want to be—things like "driving a minivan is inevitable," "raise children, not clones of you," and "be a dad first and friend second"—and it's best just to focus on those things as goals because in the end, what matters most is your kids.
When asked what rule he felt was most important, Mr. Muller replies with some thought: "Rule 1: Show Up For the Job Everyday." While this truth may seem obvious to people in general, it is only the fathers, or the parents, who are truly trying that understand not only the simplicity and challenge behind it, but also the beautiful benefits of following it.
What parenting books have you found to be the most helpful?
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.