I want to be the best dad in the world, but I don't know much about it. What book should I ask for for my birthday?

(I appreciate this is a bit like another question, but I'm looking for something particularly related to building that father-son relationship.)

asked 09 Oct '09, 20:57

teedyay's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 09 Oct '09, 21:10

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦

What is your profession ? :-)

(09 Oct '09, 21:40) Emi

I make software.

(09 Oct '09, 23:08) teedyay

@teedyay: I added the "dads" tag, but I really should have checked with you first. Were you only looking for answers from dads, or from both moms and dads?

(10 Oct '09, 16:32) Scott ♦♦

@Scott - spot on. I tried adding it myself, but I need a little more rep first. Thanks.

(11 Oct '09, 20:56) teedyay

@teedyay: This is the first question with the dads tag, so it didn't exist before now, and you do need a bit of rep in order to create it. :) Next time it should be no problem.

(12 Oct '09, 13:24) Scott ♦♦

This may not be a conventional answer, but I would recommend Aaron T. Beck's Love is Never Enough.

Bear with me, but being a great dad isn't just playing catch and working on the car. (Not saying that that's how you viewed it, mind you.) Modelling how to treat wives and women is an important skill to convey to your son and having a happy, loving set of parents will definitely make for a better childhood also.

Aside from that, it has some excellent advice about how to interpret other people's behavior properly and better control one's own reactions.


answered 09 Oct '09, 21:52

bbrown's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

I'm a software developer and a new Dad too. Unlike software, where there is often the book for any given technology, I've found that baby and parenting books all contradict each other and they all seem to be written based on personal anecdotes and casual observations. So, your best bet is to get several books and read them all and work out your own path through the middle somewhere based on your attitudes and beliefs, your child's temperament and personality, etc.

That said, I think the "for Dad" books are often targeted at reluctant fathers and hide behind sports analogies and car analogies too much. I much prefer the "for Parents" books instead.


answered 22 Oct '09, 18:51

Mike%20Kale's gravatar image

Mike Kale
accept rate: 0%

As you are a programmer, you should read the "manual" which comes with your baby. If yours is missing, you can order one here

The next best thing that comes to my mind is anything Stephen Covey has written. It's not only about being a better dad, but about being a better person. For families or for yourself.

But I must admid that I am a huge Covey fan, so YMMV.


answered 12 Oct '09, 10:33

Huibert%20Gill's gravatar image

Huibert Gill
accept rate: 5%

Don't forget the one for owner's manual for toddlers too: http://www.amazon.com/Toddler-Owners-Manual-Instructions-Troubleshooting/dp/1594740267/

(16 Oct '09, 17:54) Dinah

So You're Going to be a Dad was hilarious and brutally honest. I was totally prepared for the final weeks till baby, labor and the first weeks post baby thanks mostly to that book.

My wife even read it. Its that good.


answered 14 Oct '09, 17:38

Rob%20Allen's gravatar image

Rob Allen
accept rate: 12%

Looks quite cool, but I want something that'll last me well beyond babyhood.

(15 Oct '09, 14:42) teedyay

This book is now on my reading list, I will post a review when I finish it

Parenting beyond belief
Raising Freethinkers

More info here


answered 16 Oct '09, 16:00

JJJ's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

edited 20 Oct '09, 13:08

The Dangerous Book for Boys may not seem like the self-help guidance you were looking for but it has countless opportunities for father-son bonding. Little will make you feel like a dad or him feel like a capable male child like the stuff in this book. It's filled with exciting things to learn which means exciting moments for you to be the helpful, teaching, knowledgeable, encouraging dad. If your son gets excited about anything in this book, the bonding is practically built in.



answered 16 Oct '09, 16:23

Dinah's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

Another unconventional answer, and maybe not exactly what you're going for, but: The Bible.


answered 10 Oct '09, 00:31

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Joel Coehoorn
accept rate: 18%

Hi Joel. I think this is the start of a good answer. Can you elaborate on one or two concrete examples where something in the Bible has helped you become a better dad?

(10 Oct '09, 00:51) Scott ♦♦

God Himself is called the Father. How does He treat His children? The four Gospels are filled with examples of how God treats His Son. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." There are a few examples.

(10 Oct '09, 06:37) mbhunter

Fair enough, but I already have one, so I won't put it on birthday list. ;-)

(11 Oct '09, 21:00) teedyay

@mbhunter: Thanks! I'm sure there's more than that though.

(12 Oct '09, 15:42) Scott ♦♦

+1. Try a search in the book of Proverbs for "son OR father OR children".

(14 Oct '09, 09:40) epaga

Meh. It's a good book, but it's not particularly targeted at "how to be a great dad". You have to wade through an awful lot of other stuff to find the being-a-great-dad bits. Maybe there's another book that collates and expounds on what the practical advise the Bible has about being a great dad.

(15 Oct '09, 14:36) teedyay

-1: how do you know which bits to follow to build a father-son relationship? Suppose I stumbled across Deuteronomy 21:18-21: "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, ... Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die"

(23 Oct '09, 08:31) Paul Stephenson

@Paul, the bible is filled with stuff like that, I can't understand how anyone would suggest it in this question (sorry Joel, but I couldn't disagree more)

(20 Nov '09, 00:47) JJJ
showing 5 of 8 show 3 more comments

It's not so much advice books, but my favorite is Home Game by Michael Lewis

Home Game is about the time around the births of Lewis' two daughters and son. He tells some hilarious stories about not being the perfect father, but it's clear from the writing that he loves his kids and that makes up for many of his shortcomings.

Reading it showed me that what I needed wasn't really a step-by-step guide, but just some encouragement from a fellow traveler that I'm not the only one feeling this way or having these feelings.


answered 16 Oct '09, 15:59

Brien's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

My second favorite fatherhood book is Alternadad by Neal Pollack.

Pollack is an aging hipster desperately trying to remain "cool" while being a father. He also puts way too much time and effort into making sure his son is also "cool." The good thing is that he's very self-aware, and turns his neuroses into comedy gold. It's telling that I disagreed with 90% of the parenting and political statements Pollack Made in the book, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


answered 16 Oct '09, 16:02

Brien's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%


You don't need to read books for that ;)

Just spend lots of time with them. You will know what to do. Mankind's been doing it for millions of years.

I quit my job to be home with them until they go to school. It's the best decision I've ever made in my life. They want your company more than the money you would make in your day job.


answered 14 Oct '09, 01:30

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accept rate: 0%


-1: Please see our "Back It Up!" Principle: http://moms4mom.com/back-it-up Please feel free to edit this answer and reword it. Thanks!

(14 Oct '09, 01:37) Scott ♦♦

LOL. Sorry, I thought I did that by posting "Something that happened to you personally".

(14 Oct '09, 01:48) lajos

I think Scott's point here is that Teeday asked for books that would be helpful, not whether or not reading books would be helpful. Your personal experience is tangential to the question. A better example would be "I read a few books but found that they didn't provide me with the information I was looking for, spending time with them has been provided the best lessons". Remember to also be courteous.

(14 Oct '09, 02:25) Tammy ♦♦

I feel I was courteous. I was trying to tell him that he has all he needs to be a great dad.

(24 Oct '09, 22:13) lajos
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Asked: 09 Oct '09, 20:57

Seen: 5,211 times

Last updated: 22 Oct '09, 18:51