Review by Kathy Kuhl
As I speak with parents around the world, the fathers stand out in my memory. I meet dads who listen silently as their wives talk with me and dads who have a lot to ask and say.
This summer, I had the privilege of talking with an extraordinary father, Steve Bundy. Steve has two sons, one with disabilities, both treasured. Steve wrote a book with Doug Mazza for fathers of children with disabilities. Since many of us have children facing multiple physical, emotional, and educational challenges, I was curious about their book.
You already noticed the subtitle. This book, like a few others I have reviewed, is written from a Christian perspective. It is published by Joni and Friends International Disability Center, a Christian ministry devoted to helping families affected by disability. Doug and Steve are, respectively, the president and vice president of that organization, one I recommend and support. Their jobs put them in contact with many fathers. They understand their needs.
Now, some of you have met people who’ve told you if you just had more faith or would follow the right program, your child would get better and do fine. In this book, there is none of that misguided nonsense. (I could call it worse names, but I won’t.) In this book, there are no easy answers, no self-righteous tones.
This book also rebels against the culture’s focus on perfection and success: the idea that our kids’ worth is based on their being fixed or cured.
Instead, we hear two fathers opening up frankly about their struggles to lead their families and support their wives as they raise children with disabilities. These men are not overly emotional, but they are honest about the struggles and fears. They’ve waited outside operating rooms. They’ve struggled to get a diagnosis, to understand, and to support their families while their own hearts are breaking.
They don’t gush, but they challenge the pressure on men to suppress intense feelings. They claim “you have a right to be emotional when there are no answers for your child’s special needs.” (p. 32) They encourage men to find other fathers with similar struggles, and to look for private opportunities to fellowship.
Mazza and Bundy resist the culture’s pressure on men to be the ones who must fix everything. Steve Bundy admits in a video interview, “It was difficult as a father to accept Caleb and his brokenness.” In this book, Steve later wrote how he realized that it’s a good thing that God didn’t require Steve to be perfect before God accepted him.
Each chapter includes experiences of the authors and men they’ve interviewed. The book is easy to read, and organized topically, with suggestions for prayer and action at the end of each chapter.
I was especially glad to see chapters on:
- Marriage, including the temptation men face to withdraw emotionally from their wives. “Unfaithfulness in marriage is not limited to the physical realm. …When husbands abandon their position in marriage, there are no happy endings.” (p. 109)
- Siblings of children with special needs, who face their own sorrow and frustration with their sibling’s needs and who need to know their parents value them.
- Leadership: How can a man lead at work when he has a child with special needs? How do work and family fit together in a life touched by disability?
If you want to enjoy a good conversation with Christian men who understand the struggle of raising a child with disabilities, I recommend Another Kind of Courage.
The links above take you directly to the Joni and Friends site. If you’d like to order the book through Amazon, with a portion of your purchase supporting the work of LearnDifferently.com, click here.