We've got about one month until Father's Day which makes the timing of this book very appropriate. Depending on the relationship you have with your own dad, giving him this book could earn a variety of different reactions. Rest assured, this book is neither preachy nor condescending and any father should be able to pick this up and read with the tone and spirit in which it's intended.
As the author points out in the introduction, there aren't any perfect parents, there's no set of instructions for how to raise children and every family situation is different and requires different parenting techniques. That said, this book outlines 81 "Dad Rules" that can be applied to your own situation to become a better father.
As a book, this is a very quick read. 81 rules, each about 1 page in length with quick examples and explanations. Treion emphasizes that this book is not intended to be read like a standard book. Rather, it is meant to exist as a standby resource to remind yourself of the simple rules of life that we often forget. It's filled with short snippets of advice and wisdom pulled from a variety of sources ranging from ancient proverbs and scriptures to modern day comedians and scientists. Most of all, the writing is straightforward and friendly.
Most of the rules and pieces of advice are very "common sense" in nature and at first glance this may make them feel trite. However, because of their very commonplace nature, we often forget, ignore or neglect these rules. Things like "Rule 33 - when you mess up, say 'I'm sorry'" or "Rule 43 - use the 'magic words.'" I've known many parents (and have been guilty of this myself) who parent with an authoritative style to the point that they/we often forget the simple kindness of saying "please", "thank you", or "I'm sorry" when dealing with our kids. It's good to be reminded that if we want to raise children in a certain way, we need to behave that way as well.
Probably my favorite bits of advice relate to focusing on the little things and reminding us just how big those little things can be in the eyes of a child. Things like getting down on the carpet and playing with your kids or watching the shows with them that they want to watch. "Rule 16 - If your kids think it's fun, it should be fun for you." Even though I may not personally revel with utter enjoyment in the actual activities that my kids choose sometimes, I find absolute joy in being with them and experiencing those moments when they're laughing and smiling with their whole self.
I found this lighthearted book both refreshing and enlightening. It doesn't strive to be a heavy and deep textbook on parenting. Instead, it provides some tangible real-world nuggets of advice and wisdom that all dad's would do well to remember day to day. If you're looking for some big psychological tome about fatherhood, this isn't it. But if you're interested in cutting through the muck to find quick bits of fathering advice that ring true, you should enjoy this book.
In signing off, I just want to call out two of my favorite Rules:
Rule 1 - Show up for the job every day
Rule 24 - Being happy is better than being right
4 out of 5 stars