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The Joy & Challenges of Family Life

by Brandon McGinley

The Joys & Challenges of Family Life: Catholic Husbands and Fathers Speak Out (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015, edited by Brandon McGinley) dispels the common misconception that Catholic men follow a predetermined code for coping with life’s ambiguities. Its chapter-authors – who resemble guys anywhere – reveal how their faith helps them navigate today’s squalls and storms, and how their compass of Catholicism offers direction that society often cannot understand.

“Catholic fathers are called in a particular way to be signs of contradiction to the most destructive aspects of our culture,” says McGinley, who likewise wrote a few of the book’s chapters. “But that doesn’t mean these men aren’t confounded and sometimes overwhelmed by what life throws at them,” he says. In the book, the authors divulge how they approached situations like intimidation at being a new husband or father, parenting a growing family, managing technology’s temptations and the war on pornography, grappling with infertility, and even learning the faith as a convert while raising Catholic children.

Amid all that husbands and fathers must contend with, says McGinley, “sometimes we just want to hang out with friends talking about politics, sports, or even the weather.” The book’s accounts are of real men who describe the delicate balance between their vocation as husbands and fathers, and engaging day-to-day realities.

The Joys and Challenges of Family Life
 – in addition to taking on hard topics like natural family planning, infertility, an over-sexualized society and its effect on marriages and families, and keeping a family Catholic – also reveals men’s renewed awareness of God in their married lives, and a transformed appreciation of Him as their lifelong partner. 

McGinley sums up much of the book’s intent when he writes, “[Wives] expect neither Hugh Beaumont from 'Leave It to Beaver' nor Sir Lancelot from the 12th century. They expect, simply, the man they married to be the best version of himself, applying his interests and talents (and perhaps acquiring new ones) always for the good of the family.” McGinley also hosts a Facebook page for the book, to encourage conversation about Catholic fatherhood. It can be found at

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