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Gift Idea: MilDad Manual

Ever wish you could just hand your spouse a book on how to balance fatherhood with military life and deployment?

Handing someone a book is so much easier than trying to talk to them about it.

I’m not the only person out there who thinks that way. At least one former Marine, fatherhood expert and author, Armin Brott, is on the same page.

I ran across his book, "The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads," published in 2009, at this year’s Association of the United States Army conference. The hefty, 300-odd page volume covers everything from helping fathers understand the emotional side of deployments (including what their wives and kids are going through) to giving them tips on staying connected during any absence. Don't be afraid by its weight, though -- in between sage words of wisdom are enough cartoons and funny asides to keep any dude interested.

Very handy, if you ask me.

I caught up with Mr. Brott to chat with him a little about his book last week. Check out the excerpts from our conversation below.

Question: What inspired you to write this book?

Answer: I have done a whole bunch of other books on various aspects of fatherhood, just generally speaking. Sometime, not too long after 9/11, I started getting emails from guys who were saying “I’m over here in Iraq, and my wife is pregnant. How am I supposed to start a relationship with this kid?” After a few of those I realized this is really going to be a trend here. I thought I have the dad thing down pretty well, and I felt qualified a little bit to have something to say about the military.

Q: What is the number one mistake you see military fathers make?

A: In a lot of ways military fathers are not so different from regular fathers – they underestimate their value to their children and to the spouse. It’s very easy, particularly in a culture where there’s a macho aspect to things in respect to expression of emotions, for a guy to say “they don’t really need me, it’s all mom stuff.” It’s easy to fall into that, and assume that you don’t play an important role. I try to help guys understand that you may be gone for six months, nine to a year or longer but that does not mean that you are not the dad and that you don’t have an important role to play. If you back off and leave it to the mom, you will be depriving your children of a very valuable part of their lives – and yourself too.

Q: Would spouses benefit from reading this book?

A: I think it would be really valuable for them to understand what he’s going through, because I think that when you do understand what he’s going through you do understand that you can cut a little more slack than you would otherwise. For her to have some insight into what’s going on in his head is important.

Q: Why is a book like this an important resource?

A: The way that I look at that book and all the other books I’ve done on fatherhood is that I really want to make them hands on practical things, not a lot of theory, not a huge ammount of stuff that might bore you to death. But to say “here’s some things you can do right now for your relationship with your kids.”

 

 

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