"Big Four" Highlights


Cosby on Fatherhood

Published 25 years ago, the comedian’s book would make good Labor Day reading

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

Bill Cosby speaks at benefit event last March in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)

There was a time in our culture when Bill Cosby was the model media father. He had his own widely popular 1980s sit-com in which he played Dr. Cliff Huxtable, the strong, wise and lovable father of adorable children who always managed to get into a little more trouble than anyone expected and wound up needing the sure guidance of dad and his lovely wife. The show portrayed strong family and social values, was funny in an old-fashioned way, yet was culturally significant for its portrayal of a black family in prime time.

So when I saw Cosby’s book on a discount table at the local library recently, I scooped it up for $2.00. After all, the title is “Fatherhood,” and I am the editor of Fathers for Good. The book was published in 1986 but can easily be read with benefit – and laughter – by anyone today. The Cosby wit and wisdom are timeless.

Drawing on his own upbringing, and his experience as a father – and adding a bit of exaggeration and comedic drama – Cosby so often gets to the heart of the matter between husband and wife, father and children, and the pressures exerted on them all by peers, culture and hormones. Here is a short example:

“Just as your children are not afraid to let you know that they are not perfect (they let you know it night and day), you must not be afraid to let them know that you’re not perfect too. The most important thing to let them know is simply that you’re there, that you’re the one they can trust the most, that you’re the best person on the face of the earth to whom they can come and say, ‘I have a problem.’

“If only more kids would say, ‘I have a problem’ instead of ‘No problem’” (p. 128, “Fatherhood,” Doubleday, 1986).

The chapter is about his children entering adolescence, wanting to drive before their time and driving dad crazy.

It’s a good book, easy to read, with short chapters and subjects that connect with one another. You will learn something as you laugh. In fact, it’s perfect beach reading for the Labor Day weekend. Stop by your library and see if you can find a copy.