“Daddy’s Home! Reflections of a Family Man”

Daddy’s Home! Reflections of a Family Man

by Steven Schnur

New York: Crown Publishers, 1990

152 pp., $12.95

In Daddy’s Home! Steven Schnur’s subjects range from the intrigues of first love, age nine, to the trauma of washing machine repairs and house-buying, from Schnur’s discovery of the joys of cooking to the problems of raising children under the threat of nuclear war. Some of his strongest material is not about his own parenting experience, but that of his maternal grandfather in Europe of the 1940’s. It is here that we see most clearly Schnur’s ultimate goal: the story of one father is not lost, but passed on to his family and to others.

Schnur’s essays provide a refreshing perspective on the family. The vulnerability and caring he exhibits gives the lie yet again to stereotypical visions of fatherhood, and opens a place for discussion of men’s roles in the family.

As a woman, however, I was disturbed by an unanswered question throughout the book: What is Steven’s wife Nancie doing? Home full-time with three preschool children (including twin infants), what is she feeling? Oddly, Nancy is a hazy, absent figure in this book of cogent and moving portraits. Where is a picture of co-parenting or of the spousal relationship?

Schnur, in writing the book, says he decided “not to try to tell my life story, but rather to concentrate on those kernels of intense feeling that so animate my life — the moments of sudden incandescence that fatherhood makes almost commonplace!’ As a collection of such moments, Daddy’s Home! is a beautifully written and warm account of one man’s experiences.

Ruth Knafo Setton teaches English at Lafayette College