Failing at Fatherhood – Jack Barr

Failing at Fatherhood Jack Barr

QUICK HIT: Failing at Fatherhood is an honest look into a broken man’s past and what he is now doing different in order to heal and succeed and thrive. It’s a wonderful story of God fixing broken things and using them for his glory.

Having a baby is supposed to be a wonderful time. When you hear that first cry pierce the air, there should be jubilation. And, for Jack Barr, that’s how things were at first. But after a few weeks, he and his wife began to notice abnormalities. A pediatrician broke the news that their daughter might have Down Syndrome. And Jack Barr’s world was shattered.

Failing at Fatherhood stems from a CNN article Jack wrote about the resentment, anger, and frustration he felt after discovering his daughter’s disability. He writes about the year he basically disconnected from his life and his wife, leaving her to raise their daughter. He writes about how seriously he contemplated suicide. And, eventually, he writes about his time of healing and reconciliation, of coming to see the beauty in his daughter’s disability.

Though Jack Barr’s personal story comes in the context of a special needs child, Failing at Fatherhood is more about the areas in which most fathers fail—areas in which Jack failed—and how to avoid them or build success from the failure. Jack talks as one who’s been there and conquered, or, at least, survived. The book talks a lot about his own story and childhood, the influence his own parents had, and his rebellion against and eventual reconciliation to God.

At just around 150 pages, the book is a quick read, though, certainly not always easy. Honestly, I would have liked to have seen the book deal more with the specifics in his daughter’s life. Raising a special needs child can be difficult and Down Syndrome can seem very scary to someone who knows nothing about it. There are a number of special needs parents who have been exactly in Jack Barr’s place, have felt the feelings he felt, and looking for someone to validate those feelings while pushing them forward toward healing. The way in which the book was pitched to me made it seem that Jack was going to focus in more closely on his specific context, and I was a bit disappointed to really only see it on the fringes.

Despite that, Jack Barr’s story is well worth the read. Life is Story, after all, and Jack’s is beautiful tale of redemption. It’s not perfect…actually, it’s quite messy, but his frank and blunt honesty is refreshing. It can’t be easy to throw your failures out there for others to read. Yet that’s become his ministry. Failing at Fatherhood is an honest look into a broken man’s past and what he is now doing different in order to heal and succeed and thrive. It’s a wonderful story of God fixing broken things and using them for his glory.

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