By KRIS GONZALEZ, Fort Jackson LeaderApril 1, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- In 1991, having endured a tumultuous childhood, 18-year-old Edwin Aycock joined the Army in search of a better life. During the next 18 years, he prevailed in the face of many challenges, conducting some of the most difficult missions, serving in foreign lands as well surviving the trials of combat.
In 2009, his wife deployed to Iraq, leaving him to face his most demanding mission yet, temporary single-parenthood. Now he was responsible for raising his 7-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son and performing all the daily tasks his wife had so effortlessly done.
Little did he know that none of his training, badges or degrees would prepare him for such things as taming his little girl's hair or making sure his son's homework was finished every night.
During the next 12 months, Aycock would develop a greater appreciation for his wife's dexterity as a mother; an appreciation that would make him reflect on his own parenting skills and decide what kind of father he wanted to be for his children.
As he examined the dichotomy of his upbringing and what he was trying to achieve, he recognized he lacked the firsthand experience to create a healthy family environment.
He was determined that the lack of guidance from his abusive, alcoholic father would not keep him from nurturing his own brood. He would draw upon the values instilled in him by the military to better himself as a man and, more importantly, as a dad.
Aycock said he felt compelled to write about the struggles and revelations he had during his time as "Mr. Mom."
Four months and 230 pages later, Aycock had written a book geared toward parents who, despite their backgrounds, want to be better moms and dads.
Though the book, "Corrections of Fathers' Sins: Good Fathers are Made...not Born," is fiction, it is loosely based on some of Aycock's childhood experiences, he said.
It is narrated by a young man who recalls past abuses by his father and events that influenced him along his journey to manhood, he said.
"This book is interesting because it's told from a kid's point of view," said Juliette Skerrit, operations assistant for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, who was among the first to read the recently published book.
Aycock works in tasking, which is in the same office as Skerrit.
"As a parent you're always wondering what your kids are thinking," Skerrit said. "This book explains how the boy saw his father figure."
Skerrit said she found humor in the narrator's recollection of the 1980s customs and fads, but what she really appreciated was Aycock's brief analyses of the boy's experiences at the end of each chapter.
Aycock, who has a bachelor's and a master's degree in professional mental health counseling - and is working on a doctorate in counseling education and supervision - used his educational background to analyze the effects of the family's dynamics on the boy.
Gerald Henderson, post deputy chief of staff, who also read the book, said he related to the narrator because of his own childhood relationship with his stepfather.
"He (the narrator) and I come from similar backgrounds," Henderson said. "It brought me back to a lot of things that I had experienced and had thought about but had never put into words."
Henderson said reading the book helped him gain perspective about his role as a father.
"Ultimately you have to take those responsibilities you have as a parent seriously and understand the impact (they are) going to have on that child not only at that time, but also later on in life; on his or her ability to function as an adult and as a parent," Henderson said. "It's something that lives with you for the rest of your life. Parenting is a lifelong responsibility."
Skerrit said, "The book shows you that regardless of the situation you were brought up in, regardless of your background, you can make the changes as a parent so that your children and future generations don't have to continue the same abusive cycle. You can be a better parent to your child."
Both Skerrit and Henderson said the book was a quick read, only taking each of them about two days to finish.
"Every page made me want to read more," said Skerrit, who enjoyed reading the book so much, she gave a copy to her grown daughter who has young children.
Aycock has already written 40 pages of his second book, he said.
Skerrit said she can't wait to read the sequel.