‘Fatherhood’: Touching, Hilarious Film About a Single Dad

Two Kisses for Maddy fatherhood book“Fatherhood” is a heartwarming and humorous film about a single dad doing his best to be a good parent to his daughter. Between the laughs, there are nuggets of wisdom about the parenting journey and the irreplaceable love and care of a father.

Recently on a flight — my first flight with my baby son — I was able to catch the 2021 comedy-drama Fatherhood, starring the irrepressible Kevin Hart of Jumanji fame. The film centres on single dad Matt Logelin, left alone with his baby daughter Maddy after Matt’s wife Liz unexpectedly dies following childbirth. It is based on a true story by the real Matt Logelin, published under the title Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love.

Matt’s mother-in-law Marion hovers around after Liz’s funeral, not trusting that Matt can actually look after her granddaughter. “What would I look like goin’ home before I know that you are capable of taking care of my newborn grandchild?” she asks.

Exasperated, Matt retorts: “How are you ever gonna know if you don’t let me do it?”

Community is Key

The story unfolds with Matt succeeding against all odds at being a single dad as well as the sole breadwinner. His buddies rally around to support him, despite their own lack of childrearing experience, and provide the friendship (and levity) that he needs to get through as he tackles cot-building, nappy-changing, and baby-soothing.

Unable to get the baby to sleep, Matt barges in on a parents’ group full of mothers and begs for advice. Armed with new pearls of wisdom (white noise!), Matt finally manages a good night’s sleep with the aid of the vacuum cleaner. He brings the baby to work, and along comes the vacuum too…

A work presentation turns topsy-turvy when the baby started wailing in the distance, but the clients, who happen to be parents as well, all chime in with their parenting tips. His boss Howard contemplates firing him: “This is a place of business, right? It’s not a place of babies.” Thankfully, Matt manages to keep his job and impress the clients.

Dads are Vital

In a vulnerable moment, Matt sighs, “You know Maddy, if you could have only one parent, I wish you could’ve had your mom.” Indeed, childrearing often comes more easily to mothers, and fathers can feel like a spare tyre at times, particularly during the early years — especially if the child is mainly breastfed.

However, research shows that the more hands-on a father is during his child’s infancy, the higher the child’s IQ and eventual chance of success in life.

Lacking a dad of his own, Matt turns to his father-in-law, Mike, for parenting advice. “Welcome to not knowing the right thing to do. That’s a dad speciality,” quips Mike. He is a friendly mentor for Mike, encouraging him through the tough times.

Precious

Marion turns up uninvited for the baby’s first medical appointment, which the child thankfully passes with flying colours. “Matthew, today was a good day for you as a parent. You keep all these little victories like you had today in a little box inside you. They’ll be your most prized possessions,” she tells him.

The movie depicts how Matt and Maddy develop as a father and a daughter, through her first years in school, navigating dress codes and dealing with bullies. They also have to adjust to new dynamics when Matt’s colleague introduces him to a lady to whom he takes a fancy.

Parenting is a challenging journey. At the same time, it is very rewarding and full of fun. Fatherhood portrays this wonderful mix of emotions and the personal growth of the main characters, with the single dad learning how to tend to his daughter’s needs and realising that, although his parents-in-law may be able to provide a good home for his daughter, they can’t quite replace him.

The film is full of poignant moments and well-timed hilarity. Available on Netflix, it makes for a good show for parents to laugh over together. Unfortunately, with several instances of swearing and some politically correct plot points (Maddy’s Catholic school is portrayed as archaic for insisting that all girls dress in the appropriate attire, and Matt makes some passing comments supporting transgender ideology), it is probably not advisable for younger children to watch.

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

The moving story in “Top Gun: Maverick” of a fatherless son’s journey toward healing is proving popular with audiences worldwide. This is a film highlighting the importance of fatherhood, portraying a tale of reconciliation and redemption.

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing box offices, and it’s easy to understand why.

The film is spectacularly outpacing its weak-because-they’re-woke counterparts, because the film’s unapologetic dad themes resonate.

Alongside the gutsy F-18 camera shots, audiences are in love with the Tom Cruise/Joseph Kosinski sequel because its father-son backstory hits home.

Even the, “it’s all flag-waving, MAGA propagandist tripe” critics are applauding the sequel for keeping to the consistency of the first film’s deep relational backbone.

As The Atlantic’s David Sims explained, the film’s ‘emotional weight rests on Pete Mitchell (Maverick) fighting to earn the respect of Goose’s son (Rooster), who blames Maverick for the tragic loss of his father.’

Childhood Memory

For me, Top Gun: Maverick cut deeper.

My family and I recently saw the film for a birthday bash. The only thing missing was my dad.

Watching the first Top Gun at the cinema with my dad was to be one of the only long-lasting positive memories I would have of him.

It was 1986, I was 9, and we’d turned up late to the cinema.

Missing the iconic afterburner intro of the first Top Gun, dad and I slid into our seats in rhythm with Tony Scott’s smooth golden orange sunset, shot high above a lone F-14 landing on the silhouette of the USS Enterprise.

It became a shared interest, a mutual pursuit, a common bond solely shared between father and son.

From the soundtrack, which always seemed to be on repeat in our broken-down housing commission home, to the old-school Amstrad computer game, the movie connected us.

This was true, right up until my dad’s final week, when, knowing he would never get a chance to wear it, I gifted him a T-shirt with the Top Gun logo on it.

Now covered in dust, I still hold onto the volumes of Warplane magazines he’d chosen to buy me, instead of paying “through the teeth” for participation in a weekend sport.

Healing

I related to the second film because of the first.

Similar to ‘Goose’s’ son in the film, I was confronted by what was lost, what might have been, and what my dad chose to abandon somewhere along the way.

The sequel made the memories all the more material when Val Kilmer (Iceman), tells Maverick — still haunted by the death of ‘Goose’ — “It’s time to let go.”

Seeing the first film at the cinema in 1986 with my dad was an oasis event, an anomaly of normalcy in a wasteland of ash.

This explains why, in almost every scene of Top Gun: Maverick, I heard, and felt my dad’s absence, and choked up at Hans Zimmer’s rendition of Faltermeyer’s iconic Top Gun anthem.

We’re taught in The Good Book to raise up thanksgiving in the face of suffering. Even the smallest object or event that is worthy of our gratitude puts points on the board when it comes to healing trauma.

In retrospect, watching Top Gun with my dad in ’86 was the first, and only time he offered me a healthy introduction to manhood.

His wasn’t perfect, but that was a perfect day. That day my dad did good, and for that I thank him.

For me, the only thing missing from Top Gun: Maverick was the man who took me to see the first one, sitting, at his best, beside me and my uber-impressed family.

Top Gun was, and is, about loss, grief, and recovery; fatherhood, and fatherlessness — as much as it is about courage, defiance, and the determination to overcome obstructions encountered along the way.

The sequel builds on its original father-son backstory. It is “dad cinema” at its very best.

To lean on Miles Surrey’s review in The Ringer,

‘Every single dad — past, present, and those who are expecting to be dads in the near future — should check out Maverick, if not for the sanctity of ensuring Dad Cinema doesn’t fade away, then for experiencing a blockbuster that surpasses its predecessor in every respect.’

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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Healing the Father Wound

Healing the Father Wound

Our human fathers may leave us with wounds, because they carry wounds themselves. But God the Father can make up for their failings and heal us from our pain.

I have old black and white photos of my dad and me when I was very young. They show him carrying me as a baby, nursing me on his knees and playing with me when I was a small boy.

I never doubted my dad’s love for me. Our home was never a place where I heard raised angry voices or felt fearful or abandoned by my dad.

He was a good man, who worked hard to provide for our family. There was never any doubt that dad loved all of us, my mum, little sister and myself.

Every year we enjoyed family holidays together, as well as regular gatherings with our uncles, aunties and cousins. Life was good.

Growing Apart

Time passed. I became a teenager, grew into adulthood and left home when I got married at the age of 23. The relationship between my dad and I changed throughout my years of growing up.

He was still a good man, but he was never a father I could talk to about deeper issues of life. Mum was a Christian, but Dad expressed no faith in God. Occasionally he would accompany us to the little Methodist church we attended. He would only stand in silence during the singing of the hymns.

Dad’s brother once told me that when he was a boy, three of his younger siblings, twin boys and a girl, died of childhood diseases before the age of 2. He was heard to say to his mum, “Why did God do that?”

As an adult, the relationship between my dad and I lacked any form of physical affection. My sister and I couldn’t remember a time in adult life when he ever said to us, “I love you.” If mum ever tried to show him any affection in front of us kids, dad would get very uncomfortable.

Grief

My first wife had been unwell for much of our married life and in 1989 underwent a transplant operation that did not have a good outcome. She remained in hospital for the next 6 months until her death at the age of 36.

Our families and many Christian friends were present in the ICU. It was time for the nurse on duty to turn off her life support equipment. Very quickly after this, my wife slipped quietly from us into the Lord’s presence.

I said my goodbye to her, then turned to my dad and said, “Dad, I need a hug.” As I went to him, he couldn’t do it himself. I had to physically lift his arms and wrap them around me.

Years later, Dad developed throat cancer. I was away on an overseas trip at the time but arrived home in time to spend one last hour with him. He lay sedated on his hospital bed and had not long to live.

Not knowing whether he could hear me or not, I spoke into his ear and told him how I loved him and was grateful that he had been my dad. I then took the opportunity to tell Dad how much God loved him and wanted to have him in eternity with Him.

Praying, I asked Dad, if he could hear me, to ask Jesus into his heart to forgive him of all his sins and bring him safely into His heavenly kingdom. One can never underestimate what someone in Dad’s state can still hear.

The hospital provided me with a room where I could stay the night to be near Dad. I went there to unpack, but wasn’t there long before a nurse arrived to tell me that Dad had just passed away.

Dad was 77 years old when he died. At the funeral, the lady chaplain spoke of the talks she had with Dad while in hospital. She told of the many times Dad had expressed his love for his son and daughter. These were, ironically, words that my sister and I had rarely if ever heard directly from his lips.

Life continued with my mum dying eight years later in a nursing home. Being parentless felt rather strange. One generation had passed, and we were left to carry on. In the process of growing up, physical scars of childhood accidents may be many and obvious, while the hidden wounds of parental deficiencies remain hidden to all, but not to God.

A Vision

Seven years later, I experienced a profound emotional healing. We never realise how unwell we are until we are restored to normal health. This is no less applicable to our emotional well-being.

I was attending a session at a Christian conference. The leader asked us all to move to a space in the auditorium where we could be alone with God in our thoughts.

Quiet worship music played in the background as we entered God’s presence. Our session leader was encouraging us to ask the Lord what He would like to show us or say to us.

Almost immediately, I saw Jesus’ bloodied hand impaled to the cross by a large nail. As I looked at the image in my mind, I heard the leader say over the microphone, “Put your hand in the hand of Jesus.”  She had no idea what I was looking at just then.

I felt that Jesus was inviting me to do just that, to put my hands in His hands. With my imagination, I placed one and then the other hand into both His hands on the cross, then stepped up onto His feet.

I was then stretched out in the shape of the cross with my face so close to His that we could look into each other’s eyes.

It was then the scene appeared to split in half, and I fell into Him and travelled down a long hallway till it seemed I was in the golden throne room with Father God. The vision was not crystal clear, and I couldn’t get any further into the vision.

After some time of lying there waiting on God for further revelation, our leader asked for people to share what visions they had received. I was the second to volunteer. As I stepped up to the mic and began sharing what I had seen, she asked me what it meant to me.

I then realised that by placing myself in Jesus’ arms, I had fallen into the Father’s arms. I then added that I could not remember my own father ever giving me a hug.

Having said that, I couldn’t continue speaking, but began to weep uncontrollably. The leader prayed for me and down I went on to the floor, sobbing deeply as a load of pushed down and accumulated hurt came to the surface.

I realised later that all my life I had felt alone (not lonely), but that I often felt like I didn’t belong or was always on the outer of things. Even in my own family, because my father never included me in his life with affection and hugs, I grew up feeling disconnected from life in general.

I always felt different from all my peers and often told my mum this. God was releasing these hurts out of my life. I honour my dad. He was a good man in many ways. He was the way he was because of his own life hurts.

My heavenly Father began setting me free so that I could receive His love, His spiritual hugs.

Early next morning I awoke with a clearer understanding of what I had seen in the vision. The ‘hallway’ was taking me through the veil of Jesus’ body that had been torn on the cross to give us access to the Father in the heavenly Holy of Holies!

Scripture confirms this vision in many places.

Hebrews 10:19,20-22 says,

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

John 14:6 says,

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

God wants to release us from the hurts caused unknowingly or knowingly by the imperfect love of our earthly parents. God is our true Father. In His love, He created us and draws us to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

Set aside some time with God. Let Him show you what He wants you to see or know. He will heal your hurts and then fill you with the Holy Spirit, He can impart the experience of Father God’s love for you. Accept His unconditional love.

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Photo by Alena Darmel.

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Easter: From Grief To Joy

Easter: From Grief To Joy

The resurrection event changed human history forever, giving us the firm hope of redemption and everlasting life. We still face death and suffering in our fallen world, but our sorrows and grief will not last — they will be replaced by joy and rejoicing.

Many Bible verses speak about a great reversal wherein those who are suffering and mourning end up rejoicing and praising God. Indeed, a great and marvellous theme of the biblical storyline in general, and of the Easter event in particular, is how God turns sorrow and grief into joy and rejoicing. Consider some of these terrific passages.

One such text is Psalm 30. In verses 4-5 we read:

Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints,
and give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
and His favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

And in verses 11-12 there are these memorable words:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!

Prophecy

Isaiah 61:1-3 is another well-known passage:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Jeremiah 31:10-14 says this:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”

Redeemed

And Jesus, just before He was to go to the cross and suffer horribly, told His disciples that their grief would soon be turned to joy. As we read in John 16:16-24:

“A little while, and you will see Me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does He mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him, so He said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of Me.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

This is the great hope of the Christian faith. Not only can we have forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ, not only will there be a resurrection in which the redeemed will go to be with the Lord forever, but even the sorrows and griefs we experience now will come to an end — in this life, partially, and in the next life, fully.

Loss

On Easter SundayResurrection Day — I awoke to the news that a Christian friend, Paul, had just passed away with leukemia. He and his family had raised a special needs child for many years. The wheelchair-bound Grant was lovingly looked after by Paul and his wife and daughter for so many years. Sadly Grant, the adopted son, passed away a few months ago. And then Paul, this wonderful caregiver, too has just passed away.

They are now both gone to be with the Lord. Pray for his surviving family members, please. They would be glad that both are now with Jesus, but they would also be grieving and mourning heavily right now. The sorts of passages I shared above would undoubtedly be going through their minds right now.

Of interest, just on Holy Saturday night, I was reflecting about all the friends and folks I have known over the years who have passed on and are now with the Lord. Like the Apostle Paul, I am torn: I would much prefer to be with the Lord, but it seems my time here is not yet finished.

I had told my friend Paul I wanted to write up his story, and do an interview with him as well. Neither one happened. But his story will be told for all eternity, because of His Story. What a difference the resurrection of Jesus makes!

God Died… and Rose Again

Let no one ever fool you into thinking Christianity is like all the other world religions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only biblical Christianity features a God who becomes one of us, dies in our place, is raised from the dead, and offers those who put their faith and trust in Him resurrection life as well.

Easter - The Crucifixion bookAs Fleming Rutledge put it in her important book, The Crucifixion:

“Christianity is unique. The world’s religions have certain traits in common, but until the gospel of Jesus Christ burst upon the Mediterranean world, no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man.”

Everything changes because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is something incomparable in all of human history. No wonder even our calendars are marked by the Christ event. Three concluding quotes all stress the absolute newness and utter uniqueness of what Christ did.

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night.

What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”
~ G. K. Chesterton,
The Everlasting Man, 1925

“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.”
~ C. S. Lewis, Miracles, 1947

“The cross, incomparably vindicated by the Resurrection, is the novum, the new factor in human experience, the definitive and world-changing act of God, that makes the New Testament proclamation unique in all the world.”
~ Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, 2015

Remember: because of the resurrection, your sorrow WILL be turned into joy — if not now, then in the next life. So hang in there, saints. One final passage from John 16:33 says:

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Afterword

After a bit of digging around on the internet, I found a song that speaks to this. Back in 1976, a roommate at a Christian college had this album and played it often. The song is Joy in the Morning.

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Painting: Ron DiCianni, The Resurrection.

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