Randy Hain recently sent me an advance copy of his newly released book, Special Children, Blessed Fathers: Encouragement for Fathers of Children with Special Needs. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ll tell you this: what I got was a great read.

The book’s made up of chapters written by fathers of children with special needs, ranging from autism spectrum to Downs Syndrome to other special needs.

And it. is. amazing.

It made me consider how often we women talk about these things. As a writer, I have an ongoing commentary in my head. But how often do we give voice to the men we love? How often do we listen to their perspective…for that matter, how often do we ask?

Randy has not only asked, he has put it together in a format that’s engaging and might even inspire some tears. This is the kind of man-to-man book that men need. And, honestly, so do we women.

We need to hear what you have to say, men, and we need you to say it. It is a beautiful witness to the vocation of fatherhood and the “special” in special needs.

Randy generously agreed to speak with me about the book:

Your new book is a different kind of book, Randy. Tell us a bit about it. 

I am not sure anyone has written a book like this one which is intended to provide practical advice, encouragement, and even inspiration to fathers of children with special needs.  As the father of a teenage son with autism, I know firsthand the challenges dads (and their families) are facing. 

The book was both a labor of love and a testimony to the fruit that comes from obeying God’s will.  This book has been blessed from the beginning with an enthusiastic publisher (Emmaus Road), contributed chapters from Catholic author friends of mine who have children with special needs, and the miracle of time to pull it all together with my hectic schedule. 

My hope is that the men and women who read the book will be strengthened in their vocation as parents and see these special children as true blessings in their lives.  Also, I made the prayerful decision early on to donate all of my book royalties to support the great work of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (www.NCPD.org).

What inspired you to take this approach?

I am a very practical writer and I prefer to share real-life experiences and stories in my books, inspired by our Catholic faith.  I knew from my travels around the country in support of my 2014 book Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men that fathers everywhere are struggling, particularly in families with children who have special needs.  The emotional, financial, physical, and spiritual pressures can be overwhelming and I wanted to write a book to help these fathers live up to their responsibilities and more fully engage.  Our families desperately need us to be present!

How did you select the Catholic dads who are part of this venture?

Through my speaking, writing and work as co-founder of IntegratedCatholic.org, I have been blessed to encounter a number of great Catholic men who also have children with special needs.  When I reached out to ask for their contributions to this book, every one of these wonderful fathers immediately said yes!  I will always be grateful to Joseph Pearce, Kevin Lowry, J.D. Flynn, Matt Warner, Doug Keck, David Rizzo, Chad Judice, Bill Jones, and Greg Willits for their ‘yes’ and the powerful examples they set for all fathers.

What's your favorite part of the book?

My favorite part of the book is the last chapter which describes a powerful moment I observed when a young man with autism took his first turn as a lector in our parish.  The courage of this young man and the loving parish support he received to have this moment of triumph in his young life was one of the most inspiring moments I have ever witnessed.  I will let you read the story for yourself, but it always brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.

If there is a nugget that someone reading this book walked away with, what would you hope it to be?

My sincere hope for the parents who read this book (especially fathers) is that they will see these beautiful children with special needs as blessings in their lives, not burdens…and that faithful, engaged and loving fathers are crucial to thriving families.

You can order Special Children, Blessed Fathers through the EWTN Religious Catalogue.