Fathers: We Need to Find Compassion for Ourselves

Recently, in Sausalito California, a group of men gathered to participate in a process to deepen their experience of being Present Fathers. As Present Fathers, we recognize that our children will teach us everything we need to know about fathering if we are able to show up, willing to feel, and committed to remain attuned to the changing demands of the moment. We based our conversation on a simple, but challenging prompt:

When I think about being or becoming a father I worry about…. Here are some of the responses we worked with:

  • Their happiness
  • My child’s health
  • Being gentle, supportive, loving and present
  • Staying alive to be here for my daughter’s to love, guide and protect.
  • Doing a good job: teaching him honesty, integrity, being good to others
  • Failure, depression
  • Safety, security, support
  • Inadvertently passing on, teaching my shortcomings
  • Not being able to provide enough
  • My son’s safety, protection; my son’s not falling into consumerism and having access to his full expression
  • How I am screwing them up, can’t change what I did

We gain understanding by going to the depths of darkness, pain, and suffering. To do this, we must be willing to open to the physical experience of our emotions, stopping the struggle against our feelings and taking the risk of actually living in our bodies and within our relationships. As we do this, we find compassion not only for our children but for ourselves as well.

Dr Timothy Dukes Recommends: Summer Reading List

Summer is here. What a great time to pick up a few books to read and share together with your children.

Dr Timothy Dukes has some recommendations for you, a list of books that will make for endless fun, playful, and intimate times for you and your little ones.

So here it is, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Adventures of Cow. 
Korchek, Lori & Taylor, Marshall. (2005). Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.

This book is a favorite for children 2-4 years old.

A perfect playful story to share.

The Way Back Home. 
Jeffers, Oliver. (2007). New York: The Penguin Group, INC.

On friendship and connections and creative problem solving.

An endearing tale of a surprising friendship. A wonderful metaphor for finding friends when one least expects it.

The Day the Crayons Quit. 
Daywalt, Drew & Jeffers, Oliver. (2013). New York: The Penguin Group, Inc.

Interactive and so creative.

This is a playful and imaginative story that will bring color and crayons to life.

Lee, Suzy. (2008). Chronicle Books: San Francisco, CA.

No words, just illustrations. Parent and child can make up their own story, and the narrative can change every time.

Once a child reads (there are no words) Wave, they will never see the ocean without remembering the many stories that were conjured as reader, listener and interpreter.

Lee, Suzy. (2010). Chronicle Books: San Francisco, CA.

No words, just illustrations. Parent and child can make up their own story, and the narrative can change every time.

This wordless story gives voice to the concept of light and dark, sun and shadow, day and night. A magical arena in which to join your child.

Press Here. 
Tullet, Hervé. USA: Chronicle Kids.

NY Times best seller. Totally interactive. Your child can read it to you.

Fundamentals in a very fun context: colors, direction, magic!

Part of My Heart.
Sundy, Mike and Sansu. (2014). USA: Legbug.

A sweet story about the power of the heart.

The Invisible String.
Karst, Patrice & Geoff Stevenson. Camarillo, CA: DeVorss Publications.

Brilliant for travelling or parents living outside of the home.

This touching story lets your children know the power of your love.

The Widow’s Broom.
Van Allsburg, Chris. (1992). The Widow’s Broom. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin CO.

Who doesn’t love a Chris Van Allsburg book? Moody and haunting in illustrations, the story’s masterful twist will captivate children of all ages, as well as adults.

The Moon Rock.
Todorov, Boriana & Vladimir. (2007).  Singapore: Simply Read Books.

Children 7-10 years of age will love this book!

An epic tale with wonderful illustrations. Great for the imagination.

The Mirrorstone.
Palin, Michael, Lee, Alan, & Richard Seymour, (1986). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

A Perfect read aloud for ages 7-10.

Enchanting to share.

Negotiate Space for Yourself

I remember a time when I came home from work and my son was all over me. I was dressed in a silk shirt and jacket. As I was eating a salad, he began tenaciously gnawing away at the edges of my sanity with his demand for my attention. Tense and tired, I interrupted his advances, hoping that I’d given him enough: “That’s nice honey;” “What a big boy.” Still he advanced. It was as though he wanted to get under my skin. I couldn’t tolerate his sticky ice cream hands on my wrist and finally I snapped: “Honey, please stop pulling on me.” Slowly he crumbled and faded to his mother’s lap. Frustrated, I pulled back, and we distanced ourselves. Within moments, I negotiated some space for myself in exchange for a story to be read after his bath. And I realized that it would take some doing to recover the balance.