Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
The author of Quality Time for Dad, Janice M. Todd, is the co-founder of Dads Against The Discriminating System (DADS), a licensed psychiatric technician, and a clinical hypnotherapist. She assisted in the creation of DADS when she encountered the problems her ex-husband was facing with his own noncustodial parent relationship during their marriage. This book was born out of her concern for the injustices of the family court system against noncustodial fathers.
The book is filled with good, common sense advice that most of us tend to overlook during the intensity of the divorce situation. She pays careful attention throughout to the fact that children are a responsibility, not a convenience, and that parents must be responsible to them regardless of other commitments. She reminds fathers that the normal everyday tasks such as jobs, illnesses, etc., are not excuse for shirking the parental responsibility; after all, if single mothers can balance it all, so can single fathers. She urges noncustodial fathers not to give in to the pressures from ex-wives when it comes giving up their rights to visitation on an orderly schedule. And she gives good advice on how to deal with the excuses noncustodial single fathers may face in the attempts to limit their time with their children.
Topics included in this book are communication with teens, ideas on how to make the exchange of the children more comfortable for all involved, tips on how noncustodial fathers should stand up for their rights, basic first aid and first aid items that should be kept in the home, advice on creating a home environment for the children – even though it is not their permanent home, and information on how to adequately stock the kitchen for preparation for meals for children and ideas on how to prepare those meals.
Despite the good advice and the overall truth contained in the book, I found three problems that held me back from a flawless recommendation. The first, while having nothing to do with the value of the content, was my biggest stumbling block. The book is in need of serious editing. There are numerous spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors throughout. There were several places where I had to re-read entire paragraphs in the effort to construe the appropriate meaning. Frankly, I have found that a single parent’s time is so valuable that they are not going to sit with a book that requires such effort to gain the knowledge contained within. I would suggest that Ms. Todd dismiss her current editor and invest in another. This alone would make the book much more marketable.
The remaining issues that I had with the book had to do with differences in personal opinion. First, Ms. Todd presented every situation as if the noncustodial father was the victim, seemingly ignoring the fact that often it is the exact reverse. While this is a book geared toward the father, I think it is only fair to include a statement that while she is gearing her advice toward the rights of noncustodial fathers, the same ploys are often used in reverse.
Second, I believe that some of her advice regarding caring for the children in ways so as to prevent the accusation of child abuse is extreme. Documenting the normal childhood injuries of a child with an impartial third party is inconvenient, degrading, and causes questions to arise in the mind of the child. This should be a last resort in situations where allegations of abuse already exist. Children are not always capable of bathing themselves and if it perfectly acceptable for a father to bathe his children, male or female. [In fact, I know a social worker that was dismissed from her position for giving the exact same advice coupled with an allegation of child abuse because the father was bathing his toddler daughter. What was he supposed to do? Hire a stranger to come in a bathe her? Which situation seems like more risk to you?] Teaching children about appropriate and inappropriate touching is a “must” for all parents. But to take this “teaching” to the level where we cause children to feel that there is something wrong with their bodies and normal touching (tickling, hugs, etc.) then we are accomplishing exactly what Ms. Todd claims to be avoiding – making children uncomfortable with their bodies.
Ms. Todd’s book, Quality Time for Dad, can be found at 1st Books Library at www.1stbooks.com. (ISBN 1-4140-3246-3) It can also be ordered by phone at 1-888-280-7715. The book retails at $13.95.