How to Get Closer to Your Dad (Book Review)

How to Get Closer to Your Dad (Book Review)

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dad and daughtersLike many people’s relationship with their father, mine has never been very close. Yet, if he died today I would be very sorry I didn’t ask him more questions. That’s why I am glad to have met Stuart Gustafson, who co-wrote the new book, Questions to Bring You Closer to Dad. I met him at the National Publicity Summit in New York in March. After looking at his book, I telephoned my father last week. We talked happily for an hour, or more, about his time in the U.S. Marines and what it was like for him to visit his childhood home, and we engaged in small talk, which turns out to be the glue that holds the important stuff together…

I always knew my dad was a Detroit Tigers fan but I thought he would surely be swept up in the hometown fever rising in Milwaukee with the Brewers winning so many games this spring. He wasn’t. He sighed and said, “I’m just a Tigers fan.”

This lack of apparent emotion or enthusiasm has colored my view of him for many years, but when we talk about things that interest him, his voice becomes more animated.

Ninety-five percent of adults still have questions they would like to ask their fathers. The book, Questions to Bring You Closer to Dad, is a valuable guide into the unknown territory that lies within our own families and it can help you get those questions answered before it’s too late.

Do you know the #1 question people want to ask their Dad? They want to know if their father is proud of them — not a simple thing to ask! Stuart’s book, co-written with Atlanta television personality, Robyn Freedman Spizman, provides an easy way to break the ice and get the answers you want.

For instance, to tackle the question about having pride in a son or daughter, ask the question this way: “What is one thing I have done that has made you proud of me?”

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Stuart suggests we try the following questions, over the phone or in person. He even suggests fathers give the book to their sons. He told me, “It can be helpful both ways to open the doors of communication.”

* Can you share any of the earliest memories of your birthdays?
* What accomplishment in your life are you the proudest of?
* What traditions did you share with your family?
* How did you first meet Mom? What were your first thoughts? Was it love at first?

The rewards of taking the steps to bring yourself and your dad together, if even for only a few minutes, are warm and lasting.

The book’s premise is that it is never too late to get to know your father, even if he is a “man of few words.” It shows you not only what questions to ask, but how to ask them.

Twelve types of dads are defined in the book. Learn your dad’s type, and get suggestions specific to that type:

  • Ways to begin conversations, and things he would like to discuss
  • Things you can do together
  • How to develop “Dad radar”
  • His pet peeves, and how to avoid them

If your father is no longer alive, the book provides a special way to bring Dad’s most special attributes and memories to light. You can use the book to question your family and other people who knew him to obtain the answers. “All you have to do is make the time.”

Stuart Gustafson is an author and speaker who lives with his wife in Boise, Idaho. (His mother lives only six blocks from their house.) His previous book is Parables for Life in the 21st Century. Subscribe to his monthly e-newsletter containing an original “Parable a Month” plus other literary items of interest.


  1. Thanks Geri, I’m going to look at this. It’s inspiring to know there really is a book for everything. Just have something to improve – look for a book on it – and tap into other peoples’ wisdom.