Randy sent me an advance copy of his newly released book, Special Children, Blessed Fathers: Encouragement for Fathers of Children with Special Needs. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a great read.
The book is made up of chapters written by fathers of children with special needs, ranging from autism spectrum disorder to Down Syndrome to other special needs.
No surprise: it. is. amazing.
It made me consider how often we women talk about these things. As a writer, I have even more ongoing commentary in my head that the usual. How often, though, do we women step aside to really listen to the men we love? How often do we hear and try to understand their perspectives…for that matter, how often do we ask?
Randy has not only asked, he has put it together in a format that’s engaging and may even inspire some tears. This is the kind of man-to-man book that men need. And, honestly, so do we women.
We need to hear what you have to say, men, and we need you to say it. It is a beautiful witness to the vocation of fatherhood and the “special” in special needs.
Randy and I had a chat not so long ago about his book.
Randy, though your new book is targeted for Catholic dads, I think Catholic moms could also benefit from spending time reading it. Tell us about it.
I agree with you. I think dads, moms, grandparents and anyone looking to better understand families with special needs children will find the book interesting and helpful. The book was both a labor of love and a testimony to the fruit that comes from obeying God’s will.
This book has been blessed from the beginning with an enthusiastic publisher, contributed chapters from Catholic author friends of mine who have children with special needs, and the miracle of time to pull it all together with my busy schedule.
My hope is that the men and women who read the book will be strengthened in their vocation as parents and see these special children as true blessings in their lives.
Why did you feel you should pull this book together?
Well, I knew from my travels around the country in support of my 2014 book Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men that fathers everywhere are struggling, particularly in families with children who have special needs. As the father of a teenage son with autism, I know firsthand the challenges dads (and their families) are facing.
The emotional, financial, physical and spiritual pressures can be overwhelming and I wanted to write a book to help these fathers live up to their responsibilities and more fully engage with their families.
How do you think people will benefit from reading this book?
I am hopeful they will better understand the pressures inside families with special needs children and keep them in prayer. I think dads will greatly benefit from reading about other men, just like them, who have learned to lovingly embrace their special children and become the great fathers they are called to be. I think wives will see that their husbands are struggling with pride, guilt, misplaced priorities and are sometimes feeling lost. I pray anyone who reads the book will see that children, no matter what their challenges, are God’s gift to us. Taking excellent care of His creation is our gift back to Him.
How do you find yourself especially challenged to live an integrated Catholic life as the father of a special needs child
Well, I must say, the integrated Catholic life is certainly challenging enough on its own! Having a son with special needs is made easier because I try to lead an integrated Catholic life. By trying hard to keep Christ at the center of everything I do and being the same person at Mass, at work, and with my family, I feel well-equipped for those challenging days that might seem overwhelming to others.
My wife and I long ago decided to trust in God’s plan for our son and we know that the active practice of our Catholic faith and strong prayer lives help us cope and see challenges as blessings. It is not easy, but I could not imagine life without my Catholic faith and because of my faith, I could not imagine life without the blessing of our son Alex.
Any ending thoughts about the book?
One of the important things I prayed about when launching the book project was my desire to donate the book royalties to a worthy cause. That cause is the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (www.NCPD.org). I hope people will buy the book for themselves, for friends, other family members, or even consider buying a handful of the books and donating them to your parish to be given to families who could benefit.