When Tessa Lloyd’s sons-in-law became fathers, she searched for resources that would help inspire them—especially parenting stories from other fathers. However, that book didn’t seem to exist. As a counsellor for children and families, Lloyd understood the ways a father-child relationship can have a lasting effect through the generations. Seeing a need, Lloyd decided to gather these stories herself.
This resulting volume collects the stories and portraits of forty Canadian fathers who open up about both their own fathers and their deeply personal parenting experiences. This diverse group includes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, writer Lawrence Hill, academic Niigaan Sinclair, athlete Trevor Linden, restaurateur Vikram Vij, anthropologist Wade Davis, musician Alan Doyle, artist Robert Bateman and philanthropist Rick Hansen. The contributors reflect on their varied parenting experiences and challenges, including parenting while incarcerated, parenting across cultural barriers, parenting through divorce, parenting while transgender, parenting as a celebrity and parenting with a disability. Many common themes emerge throughout the stories, including the process of overcoming cultural messages that encourage men to be strong, authoritarian and emotionally unavailable.
The stories are extraordinarily candid and vulnerable, as the fathers describe their own failings, regrets and childhood traumas, as well as the humbling process of trying to do better. In one anecdote, Dr. Greg Wells describes the experience of meeting another father walking the empty streets at three a.m. with an infant, and how that moment of shared recognition gave him strength at a difficult time. The stories in this book offer a similar glimpse into the shared experiences and trials of fatherhood, but also offer fascinating reflections on the more universal experiences of finding one’s place within a family and striving to be a better person for the sake of others.