Greg reached out to me to see if I wanted to get a copy of his book to review. I was interested because I know about Greg’s popular blog. Although I don’t always agree with what he writes, I respect his work. Greg’s posts often go viral. I do share and love how he shares his faith. I like how he takes a stand for what he believes in, including for fatherhood.
Note: there are affiliate links to the book and other books in this post – which means I make a small commission on any purchase.
Review of Dads Who Stay and Fight – How to be a Hero for your Family
The forward to the book, Dad’s Who Stay and Fight, was written by one of my dad heros – Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad. He retells how his work saving children who have been taken and sold into slavery by sicko men and women. This is a nightmare for children and it’s a sin that if I were God I’d be most angry at – hurting the innocent. Tim notes that almost all of the affected children had this one thing in common – there is no father in the child’s life.
What a poignant phrase. Don’t ever think that good fathers aren’t necessary or important.
“To be a good father is the most manly and godly thing a man can do in this life.”
In the beginning of Dads Who Stay and Fight, Greg starts out with his WHY for working. It’s not to get a huge house, fame, power, or more opportunities to make money. Rather it’s to provide for his kids. He saw a void in that he could find all sorts of business books but “I couldn’t for the life of me find a book that gave me specific advice on how to become a better dad.” So he filled the void with this book.
“This book outlines some of the most important ways that we can build or maintain an impenetrable spiritual fortress for our families.” He goes on to talk about how Mormons view God as a family man – which is something I loved. This book IS NOT full of research. It’s really not even full of HOW TOs. Rather it’s full of stories, tips and personal experience to teach what dads can do to be good dads, husbands and spiritual leaders at home. It’s what Greg thinks are important concepts for dads. Each chapter is short and easy to skim or read. It’s not dense or boring.
Overall I enjoyed the book but I wasn’t glued. I’m not the target audience. I wholeheartedly agree that we need better dads. It’s inspiring to read a book from a dad who values being a dad so much. Any time I see that I’m cheering inside. I’m your biggest cheerleader. Like many of you I’ve seen dads who abused their own kids (and often had fathers who abused them). So anything that motivates men to be better dads means a lot to me.
What was seriously lacking in this part of the book was the role of a dad in sharing the day to day work of raising a family. Too many successful Mormon dads I know are happy to have a large family with a lot of kids because they aren’t doing much of the work of raising them. They’re at work and then when they’re not at work they’re off with their buddies hunting or for other recreation. They expect their wife to do the work of running the house and taking care of the kids. So it’s not surprising when a lot of those moms lack in sex drive and aren’t on board with having more kids.
Dads can be selfish and instead of doing work, can create even more work for their wives and family. While some studies were cited, there weren’t any that meaningfully made these points or to me helped clearly illustrate the issues.
“A new study from the University of Michigan shows that having a husband creates an extra seven hours of extra housework a week for women.” source
“Researchers find that men who make fair contribution to housework have … with the housework have a better sex life, a new study suggests.” source
“According to a 2007 Pew Research Poll, sharing household chores was in the top three highest-ranking issues associated with a successful marriage—third only to faithfulness and good sex. In this poll, 62 percent of adults said that sharing household chores is very important to marital success. There were no differences of opinion reported between men and women, between older adults and younger adults, or between married people and singles.
Mirroring trends in industrialized nations around the world, men’s participation in housework in U.S. families has nearly doubled in the past 40 years, and their amount of time spent on childcare has tripled. Yet in the United States women still perform the majority of household tasks, and most of the couples in our study reported having no clear models for achieving a mutually satisfying arrangement.” source
Greg talks about serving your wife but there’s a ton of research about what it means when both share in the work of raising kids and housework. In one section that I think is particularly annoying, the book veers into what to look for in a husband or what women like. Ok, marry someone who is ambitious (teach your daughters that!). I’d even love a section on how good dads teach their daughters how their future husbands should treat them. Even more than modelling, talking about what exactly that looks like.
What I say is look for a man who is your equal and who shares in all the work of life. Not doing the work you should do for yourself, but the work that is shared between you. It changes depending on what phase of life you’re in but it’s really important and I feel like this book just skimmed right over that fact. Please, if you ever write another book to dads, talk about how to turn your wife on by mopping the floor, putting the kids to bed and telling her to take some time for herself while you’re with the kids for hours.
My husband Stephen is so good at this but too often I see dads who get annoyed when their wives don’t keep up on having dinner ready, kids everywhere they need to be, etc. instead of seeing it as their wife is overwhelmed. Instead of getting bugged, it signals that you need to step up instead of criticize (hope your wife does the same for you – I just see it more often with men).
This picture comes from today’s shower. It makes me sentimental because this is the top shelf where Stephen keeps his shaving cream and shampoo. But it also holds a tiny Pascal from his daughter Alexis. Her life is his life too. He’s a hero to her and she adores him. I love seeing him be a dad – something that took a lot longer than he expected. He wants to be there for everything and be a full participant in her life.
I deeply respect the incredible dads who are unselfish and who are providers for their families. My friend Paul Wilson amazes me how he is in the thick of everything with his family, wife and kids – despite a pretty demanding job at work and church. I’m inspired just seeing him post family photos on Instagram because I can see how much he loves his family. Greg obviously loves his too and is an example to other dads. However, I felt this part was lacking and is so important that I had to bring it up.
Teach your Kids to Work
The book does a great job at discussing how our kids our too checked out because of technology and how we need to teach our kids to work. Easy to say! How though?? My dad learned to work hard from his parents taking him to work on the farm with my uncle for the summer. I learned because we had jobs that we did with our dad and we didn’t want to get in trouble or quit before he did. My parents owned apartment buildings so we were hired to paint, weed, pick up trash and other jobs. I remember one time working until the sun went down. It was REALLY hard. A stranger walking by said this to us, “whatever you’re being paid, it’s not enough.” I guess we looked exhausted. I work hard and know how to but I’m struggling to get my kids to learn the value of work. There aren’t as many opportunities or my husband doesn’t trust our kids to do the work perfect enough for his taste.
I know there has to be practical advice on HOW TO teach your kids work. Or HOW TO limit tech so it doesn’t interfere. He leaves this to you to figure out when I wish he’d give more concrete advice or resources.
Motivate your Kids with Stories Instead of Lectures
This was one of my favorite chapters. You may know a lot and as parents we sometimes harp on the same things over and over. Our kids aren’t listening though because we are lecturing.
“When teaching your kids, the delivery is everything. They don’t want to hear you preach. They don’t want a lecture or a sermon. Instead of telling them that you’re going to teach them something…ask them if you can share with them a story that relates to the thing you’d like to teach them.”
What I wanted here is more examples of being a better storyteller in this way. How can I change what was a lecture into a story that my kids listen to with their hearts? He says, you must immerse yourself in the topic first and that was pretty much it. I’m sure there are books (or maybe Greg will write another one) about how to tell stories to the people in your life in a way that teaches truth. I wanted to see more resources or ideas. I’m positive that simply knowing something well doesn’t make you good at sharing it.
“Good teachers are good presenters. Many people possess great knowledge and marvelous experiences, but are never able to get those things into the hearts nad minds of others because of their presentation abilities. Present well, and your kids will listen to every word you say.”
Overall: A Little Thin on the How To
For a book that bills itself on being a How To book, I found it lacking in a lot of concrete information about implementing his ideas. It’s easy if you were lucky to have a dad like mine (or my husband) who models these principles pretty well for you. If you came from a dysfunctional family or your dad was a piece of work, you’re not going to get a lot of help here.
For example, he says tells dads to be emotionally intelligent. He boils that down into being quick to observe or someone who is empathetic. There are entire books on emotional intelligence. I feel like it needed a deeper look at it. I believe it’s more than just watching others. I’d say finding mentors in other dads is important.
Overall, I wanted more practical tips or examples of applying his ideas. I’d even love to see some research to back up some of his advice.
Would a Non Mormon Enjoy this Book?
I asked myself if a non-Mormon would like reading Dads Who Stay and Fight. I believe any Christian can find value in it. Like Greg points out, he collects good character traits from other people and learns to implement them in his life. There are quotes from Mormon prophets and scripture but it follows Greg’s accessible style that appeals to a wider range of people. It’s not full of cliques or insider jargon.
This book would make a nice gift for dad’s in your life, especially with praise for the things that particular dad does well. I do appreciate my own dad, my husband and friends who are dads. I honor your role and work to be good dads.
Want to listen to LDS books (and others) like this that are positive or provide clean entertainment? Check out the Deseret Bookshelf Plus app.
Also check out Guy Stuff in the Scriptures, a lighthearted look at funny and manly scriptures.