Inside Fatherhood

Today's fathers tell their stories

David Atkinson with reflections by Mark Chester

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What does fatherhood look like in our complex world?
How clued in is the church to fathers today?

As Father's Day turns 80 in 2018, it's a good time for fathers to ask these questions; to reflect on their beliefs and values; to reconsider their understanding of this important role; and for the church to revisit its missional dialogue with men.

Highlighting the human-interest dispatches from the front line of modern fatherhood through case-study interviews and biblical reflection, this unique book is essential reading for fathers, mothers, the church and everyone interested in this vital topic.


  • Stepdad- Dom
  • Turnaround dad - Scott
  • Midlife dad - Darren
  • Reunited dad - Chris
  • Absent dad - Steve
  • Widowed dad - Neil
  • Adoptive dad - Graham
  • Losing-it dad - Paul
  • Stay-at-home dad - Dave
  • Searching dad - Richard
  • 80 dad tips
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Author info

David Atkinson is a freelance writer with 20 years' experience. He first started writing about fatherhood a few years ago when he found himself co-parenting two little girls and attending his local Who Let The Dads Out? in Chester. Mark Chester is the founder of Who Let The Dads Out?


Amble: Chester Voice. Review by Jan Bengree

David Atkinson's movingly honest book describes coping with Fatherhood in our fast-moving world.

The book is extremely well researched. It features a vivid cast of fathers, who relate their own real-life experiences of fatherhood, thus building up an amazing collage of human stories. The stories give a stunning picture of their trials, tribulations and indeed, their celebrations.

You could call them 'case studies', but the book consists of informal, beautifully written interviews, which make you feel you're sipping tea and nibbling biscuits with David and each dad. And reading the words of these guys, you'll laugh out loud, but you may also sob out loud. You'll enter a world where these fathers are doing their utmost for their children, despite life experiences that can astound you. They've all promised to be there for their children and they pull out all the stops to do so.

The book opens with an intro from David. He's devoted to his daughters and through his time as a lone father, it's clear that he's discovered immense reserves of strength in himself.

So settle on your sofa with David's characters. One guy you meet is stepdad; Dom. He's a Musician, who suddenly found himself in midst of a new family rather than gigging crazily around America. This was a massive change of circumstance and difficult to shrug off. However, he's worked hard at his new life and feels he's now fully invested in being a stepdad. And although he knows the situation is ongoing, he's prepared to accept the graft. He's determined to be with his beloved new family.

And we meet Neil, who until his Mexican wife's death had been 'living the dream'. Neil suddenly found himself wading through grief, and with a mass of other problems and two boys to bring up, he felt desperate. But gradually Neil saw that focusing on his own grief wasn't helping. It was up to him to establish a network of new people in new places. His loneliness and grief had been painful but he searched hard for ways to be soothed and therefore help his sons.

We meet Scott too, a recovered heroin addict. He has a chaotic history of alcohol and drug abuse, but his life turned around on meeting his lovely wife, then making a family with her and gradually realising that by setting the right patterns, fathers lay strong foundations for future generations. Scott reckons it's important that fathers 'make peace' with their past because the hurt of a father's childhood can seep into the childhood of his family

Then there's Richard, who's nearly 80. His own father died in WW1 in 1941 and decades later, Richard admits he still feels he's coming to terms with his loss. As a boy, he felt lonely and neglected. He lived in his own fantasy world, desperate for a father figure in his life. Richard, now with four grown-up children from his two marriages, reckons he got a lot wrong as a father but most importantly, he was always there for his children and they could never doubt his love.

There are other fathers in David's book. They include Absent dad Steve, Adoptive dad Graham, Stay-at-home dad Dave and Midlife dad Darren, all with stories to tell.

'Inside Fatherhood' is a warm and revealing book, telling of the complex world of modern fatherhood in our hectic society. David's stories echo with sadness but also celebrate remarkable joys. He's bringing up his own two daughters and says is grateful to be at the cornerstone of their lives.

As both a mother and grandmother, I fully appreciated David's frank, masculine insight into many aspects of fatherhood today. Please read this special book. It will stay with you long after you finish it.

Review by Jan Bengree

Presbyterian Herald, June 2018. Review by Phil Alcorn

As a fairly new father (my son is now 15 months old), I feel like I have now struck a balance. I have been through the combination of mad panic, intense love, and utter confusion that, for my wife and I, has been the first year of parenting. That said, I have no doubts whatsoever that the rest of my life as a father will still be filled with those emotions - and that's why I'm grateful for books such as Inside Fatherhood.

David Atkinson has compiled what is, on the surface, quite a simple book - a collection of 10 interviews, conducted with 10 very different men, all talking about their experiences of fatherhood. To write this book off as unimportant, however, would be a grave mistake. With chapters titled 'Stepdad', 'Mid-life dad', 'Absent dad', 'Widowed dad', and 'Adoptive dad' (among others), there are experiences here that will speak to every kind of father.

Each interview is honest and hard-hitting. Mark Chester has also written a biblical reflection following each chapter, calling us to reflect on the love and fatherhood of God, and how our experiences as dads can reveal God's actions in our lives.

To see these men open up about the joys and the challenges they have faced was refreshing and incredibly encouraging. To hear how they have changed, how they have grown and, at times, fallen, gives me hope that whatever challenges fatherhood holds for me in the future, I am not alone. For, as David himself writes, 'We're all just doing our best.'

Phil Alcorn

Norwich Diocese Magazine, May 2018. Review by Steve Foyster

As Father's Day turns 80 this year, freelance writer David Atkinson reflects on what fatherhood entails in this complex world and whether the church fully recognises the twentieth-century role that fathers play.

If it does not, how can it begin to engage with relevant missional dialogue?

Highlighting ten real-life case studies of different aspects of fatherhood, including stepdad, midlife dad, absent dad, adoptive dad, losing dad and widowed dad, linked to biblical reflections by Mark Chester, Inside Fatherhood offers essential reading for fathers, mothers and members of the church.

The book also includes 80 'tips for dads'.

Steve Foyster

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857465696
  • Published: 23 March 2018
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
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