The director of the popular film franchise “God’s Not Dead,” Harold Cronk, has penned his first children’s book, The Beard Ballad, which was released over the holidays to share a positive message and tools to help fathers bond with their children amid a modern-day “gender identity crisis.”
The Beard Ballad is a “whimsical” story about a father and son who grow their bond as their beards grow long together. The forward for the book was written by reality star Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame. It is specially written for fathers and sons.
The award-winning director believes it is easy sometimes for fathers to forget how important their role is in helping their sons grow up to be great men.
Cronk honored his partner Troy Duhon, who executive produced the “God’s Not Dead” films because he helped the book come to fruition.
“He said to me, ‘We have got to get this out there. We’ve got a major gender identity crisis going on in our country right now, and this is something that fathers need as a tool,” Cronk told The Christian Post in a recent interview. “Troy got behind the book in a big way, and I’m grateful for his support.”
Illustrated by Casey Fritz, the dynamic illustrations highlight a type of traditional man who grows out his beard, hunts, fishes and wears plaid.
“I love being a man and I feel that we were put on this earth to do things for the greater good,” Cronk told CP. “I know a lot of men that are incredibly good men, who work their tails off every day to provide for their families.”
“They love football, hunting, fishing and chopping wood,” he added. “They’re just good-hearted men who have a servant’s heart and want to help other people. That heart is what I wanted to portray.”
The Michigan native acknowledged that men are going to “make mistakes.” However, he believes that what men contribute to society is valuable and should be encouraged.
“Let’s face it, we all make bad choices at points in our lives. We all screw up every day. That’s why grace is so amazing,” Cronk insisted. “Thankfully, the grace of God covers up all of those shortcomings that we have as men if we truly seek forgiveness and walk a better path. I think that if we start taking away all of the good things that men bring to our culture in our society, it’s going to make our future more bleak, not brighter.”
The following is an edited transcript of Cronk’s interview with The Christian Post, where he shares further about the heart behind his new writing.
Christian Post: Where did the idea from this book come from?
Cronk: The idea for the book was inspired by an interaction with my son, Harry. A couple of years ago, I picked him up, nuzzled him, gave him a big bear hug and rubbed my cheek against his. He pushed me away and said, ‘Daddy, your face is all pokey and rough.’ I said, ‘Those are my ferocious facial follicles.’ And in that moment, the idea was born.
The next day, I went to the local coffee shop where I draft a lot of writing for my screenplays, and the book just kind of poured out of me. It almost felt like it was given to me.
CP: How would you say time spent between a father and his son makes an impact on both of them?
Cronk: I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and thinking through all of the knowledge and principles that my dad shared with me. Everything that I have accomplished is in large part a result of his teachings and investment in me.
I think the time spent between a father and son is invaluable. When we invest in our sons, share with them our beliefs and our values, and develop a strong relationship. We know that they’re going to be comfortable coming to us and asking us the difficult questions as they move through life in this ever-changing world. The more that we can pour into them, the better equipped they will be to navigate the shark-infested waters of our world.
Similar to beard days, I have very vivid memories of my father taking the time out of his busy schedule to teach me lessons. Such as, at a young age, he taught me how to shave. I will never forget that lesson. It meant a lot to me when my dad took time for just the two of us to be together. There were many times that my dad took me hunting and fishing, and we would go on some great adventures together. He made the time to have days where we could spend quality time together. This is a tradition I will continue with my children because I know how much it meant to me.
CP: What do you want families to take away from your book?
Cronk: My hope is that when people read the book, they’re going to realize the importance of investing in their sons and daughters. At the end of the day, this book is not just for boys as I know how important it is for fathers to invest in their daughters as well.
Investing in our families is investing in our future. When we give our time to our families, to model the things that we know are important for our children to see, it’s going to have a positive impact on our culture. I think one of the biggest problems facing our country right now is that we are pulled in so many different directions with the ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’ mentality — the perception of others, social media, working 80 hours a week. When we start to put all of those things ahead of the relationships that we have with our children, we’re headed down the wrong path.
We need to reverse that mentality, and we can. I’m not saying that all of a sudden, you need to spend X amount of hours a week with your son. You have to start small and build successes. You have to start with little things, like reading a five-minute bedtime story with your son or daughter. Make that commitment to yourself, because it’s going to positively affect you as well. It will be something that you and your child appreciate and look forward to each day.
For instance, when I come home from a business trip, my son looks like he’s grown a foot. When you are present and paying attention, you get to see that loose tooth and hear about their day. You miss out on so much when you’re not there and present. You have to be committed to spending time with your kids.