Having had the pleasure now of knowing Joshua McDowell for a couple of years and looking to help a colleague out, I agreed to review a book he has written detailing his struggle with fighting for custody of a child he knew wasn’t safe.
The title is Accidental Dad and is essentially A Father’s Rights Survival Guide, written for any father finding themselves in the all-too-common predicament of having to support themselves as they fight for custody of their children.
Let me clear it out of the way that I have no opinion on the father’s rights movement as a political talking point. There will doubtless be “liberal” feminists and misandrists who will ignorantly dismiss Joshua’s book as biased and worse “pro-men.” I’m not here to debate them on this topic because honestly, nothing in this book screams anti-women.
What I can tell you though is that while frustratingly bogged down by pointless statistics that only scratch at the real surface of this struggle, Joshua’s book is genuinely heartfelt and more importantly pertinent to a lot of men’s fights.
Who is Joshua?
Joshua is what he calls an “accidental dad”. Having impregnated his girlfriend while a senior in high school, he makes no qualms about admitting he made a mistake.
And while I personally disagree with his assessment that teenagers shouldn’t have sex, a point that I think is worth debating, the larger picture is that Joshua holds himself accountable to what he feels like was a mistake on his part.
Joshua is very personal in his account of how his then-girlfriend, whom he has politely referred to as “Missy”, struggled at first to deal with this unexpected surprise.
While trying to graduate, Joshua worked full-time as a cook at a restaurant while simultaneously dealing with baby mama drama as I like to call it. At first, Missy and he tried to work out the relationship and raise the child in a 2-parent household, but things quickly spiraled downhill.
It’s an all too common struggle that most people will fortunately never find themselves in. As a fellow East Sider here in Toledo, Oh, the story of teenage parents ending up fighting over child rights is all too well known, to the point of being a stereotype.
And while it’s easy to side with Joshua’s recount as a male and having the fortune of hearing his story from his side only, there is something deeply moving about his journey.
A Father Fighting to Gain Control
Joshua is what many people will call a hero. As his relationship deteriorates his girlfriend is granted full custody of the child while Joshua is forced to pay child support.
But the struggle continues as he recounts dealing with harassment and false abuse allegations from a mother who seems to have found every crack in the system.
And while I would love to hear her side of this story, there are plenty of men who will attest to going through the same horror scenario.
Hope When the System Is Stacked Against You
Fortunately for Joshua, he finds a happy ending after 7 years of what he calls a torturous struggle. The mother is finally found to be what seems like incompetence and after defending himself in court Joshua is granted full custody rights.
Hope in a Barrel
As stated, the book is very personal and one-sided but provides some valuable lessons and what I feel is solid advice for any father looking for guidance in fighting the system. The back half of the book is essentially his own advice on how to seek help and win your day in court, but for me, everything he has to say can be summed up in the acknowledgments.
Joshua tells a very haunting tale of reaching the point of insanity and resorting to a suicide attempt. Having run out of hope and found salvation in a black market gun, he sits under a bridge and talks about putting the barrel in his mouth. Just as he is about to pull the trigger, a stranger knocks the gun out of his hand and tells the man it’s not his time.
Hairs will raise when reading this very short story because that message is what makes Joshua’s story so real and heartfelt. This isn’t an angry father who’s pissed off because he has to pay child support. This is a man fighting for everything he holds dear in his life.
What I Think
Whatever you think about the Father’s Rights movement, there is something simply harrowing in hearing a man talk about being arrested on false allegations and having to face the embarrassment of telling a judge why he deserves to take care of his son.
As someone who closely identifies with the Christian theology, there is power in his testimony that we all should at the very least acknowledge. While you may disagree on why a father deserves to have a child in his life, you can’t deny the emotion that is behind the facade of machismo. Joshua’s story serves as a powerful reminder for any father facing the long drawn out battle that is child custody court that anything is possible when you have hope, and dare I say, God, on your side.
Final Verdict Definitely a powerful reminder that not every single father is what our American society unfortunate deems a “deadbeat dad”. If you’re a father looking for some guidance and hopefully hope, this book is for you.
Look for Joshua’s book on Amazon here and remember that any purchase through this link contributes to this site success.