At the age of 40, author Richard Melnick, then the father of three and five-year-old boys, was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, he faced new fears, first hand: "Who would father my sons?" "Would they miss me?" "Would they forget about me?" "How would my wife and sons manage financially?" The permutations of painful outcomes were beyond his grasp.
The resulting book is an antidote to helicopter parenting and tiger moms. Written in Melnick's scrappy, heartfelt style, Parents Who Don't Dishes is an entertaining and easy-to-read book that dives into some of life's deepest topics with surprising ease. "I wanted my sons to be secure in the world, without panic or existential crisis," Melnick says. It was that belief that shaped a completely fresh approach and parenting style.
From an early age, he expected his sons, Jackson and Josh, to pitch in around the house. He started by asking them to help with the dishes, even when they needed a step stool to reach the faucet. The ultimate goal, of course, was about more than helping out around the house. Melnick wanted his kids to understand the importance of service, to embrace every momentwhatever emotion or challenge it heldand to participate fearlessly in the truth of their lives.
Fueled by a sense of urgency, he introduced Jackson and Josh to ideas typically thought of as adult: introspection, responsibility, acceptance, gratitude. They got it like music, remembering the melody from deep within, without needing to recite the notes and chord changes.
As the book and Melnick suggest, "Parents must be willing to grow too, at the end of the day, no parent can teach their child how to be authentic, kind, create boundaries and manage reactivity without doing those same things themselves. But when kids and adults are on the same page, growing together, magic is possible."
Dr. John Day, M.D. says, "Richard Melnick is creating a paradigm for himself and his 2 sons which is largely absent in our culture of men, and in our society in general. This missing link is the development of male consciousness through the various rites of passage which have been part of the male ritual in times past. Our current social ambience and attendant electronic gadgetry attempts to distract us all, male and female, from the growth with which we are tasked by normal living. The best teachers are those who walk the journey with us. And so it is with Richard and his sons. Be so inspired yourself."
Kitchen Providential declares, "Mr. Melnick shares his insights to parenting young sons humbly, without the need for heroics or pedantry. Yet it's quite smart on one level and on another, spiritually revealing. There's a funny utility about the story, allowing the reader access to explore a little deeper those things that make for a healthy relationship between a father and sons. Parents often cook and eat together, but perhaps the magic happens not at the stove or the table, but at the sink. Good stuff."
Parents Who Don't Do Dishes and other recipes for life is part memoir, part parenting book and full-on treatise about living life fully and raising kids who do the same. www.parentswhodontdodishes.com