Book explores Inside Fatherhood

Posted on 2nd March 2018

With the 80th anniversary of Father’s Day taking place in 2018, a group of fathers from Chester and beyond have shared their reflections on this important role in a new book written by a lecturer at the University of Chester.

David with his daughters Maya and Olivia. Picture credit to Rebecca Lupton photography.
David with his daughters Maya and Olivia. Picture credit to Rebecca Lupton photography.

David Atkinson, who is a Visiting Lecturer in Media, interviewed 10 men of different ages and backgrounds to write Inside Fatherhood which is published on March 23.

He started researching the book following his own experience of being a father to two young girls and attending his local Who Let the Dads Out? group based in Hoole in Chester. Who Let the Dads Out? is a movement that resources churches to reach out to dads, father figures and their children.

David said: “Speaking to the different dads at the group and hearing about their different experiences gave me the idea to write the book. From listening to their stories it seemed that that being a father had coincided with other dramatic events in their lives and how their lives were transformed.

“It also made me think about how fathers are often less heard and sometimes put down in such things as adverts when in reality so many men are doing so much.”

After approaching a publisher, David interviewed the men individually. He added: “They were all strangers when I met them for the first time and after speaking to them I realised it wasn’t just a book about fatherhood. Their stories were very personal – both good and bad – and covered other issues including male identity, mental health, addiction and recovery.”

In the book, Scott, from North Wales, describes his heroin addiction: ‘When you first try heroin, people say it’s like being kissed by God himself. I still remember the feeling – even now. It was like being wrapped in cotton wool. All addicts spend their lives trying to recapture the feeling of that first hit.’

Another father, Chris from the Midlands, shared his story about being involved with the far right wing and football hooliganism. He said: ‘When you have someone around the throat, choking him or her until their eyes are starting to glaze over, well, it’s like a drug. The ability to spare him made me feel godlike. I’m not a monster,’ he adds, ‘but I have done monstrous things.’

One man described how he experienced a ‘mid-life crisis’ and gave up his high-flying career in a stressful job to work on a community project for a charity to give something back to society and spend more time with his children. Another shared his heartbreak over losing his wife to cancer.

David added that during the 18 months he spent researching the book many of the themes he encountered were also emerging in mainstream media.

He added: “Through landmark interviews such as Prince Harry and Rio Ferdinand talking about their experiences, it felt like this is a time for men to discuss their mental health and other aspects of their lives they may not have felt comfortable doing so before.”

As well as lecturing at the University, David is also a freelance media professional writing mainly about travel and family issues for the Daily Telegraph and other news outlets, plus working as a guest blogger for Marketing Cheshire.

He also runs media-writing workshops, specialising in writing for magazines. He said: “I will be organising workshops for men to find their voice as bloggers around the launch of the book, encouraging more guys to share their experiences of fatherhood and related issues.”

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