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We Need to Find Compassion for Ourselves

Last Thursday, 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. We need to find compassion not only for our children but for ourselves as well.

By |April 15th, 2016|Categories: What is Fatherhood?|0 Comments

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.

By |April 3rd, 2016|Categories: Relationship|0 Comments

Finding Multiple Avenues for Solutions

When my son was young, he loved to play with Legos. This went on for years. First it was the large size, to prevent swallowing, and as time progressed, the pieces became increasingly smaller, and as you’ve probably noticed, increasingly expensive. I was the parent who was charged with playing and constructing and solving the architectural challenges of creating the machines, houses, and people with intricate combinations of color-coded interlocking blocks.

My wife was vacuuming, and I heard a loud clinking sound in the metal tube. I interrupted the cleanup and asked if she knew that she was vacuuming up the Legos. “Sure. I am tired of stepping on them in the middle of the night!” She was right, of course. It was not her job to clean up after the “boys;” it was ours. So I took it on and became the keeper of the Legos. Whenever I found a stray, I would place it in a bowl reserved just for that purpose. Even when my son and I were most diligent, some pieces seemed to migrate from the construction site under the stairs up into the playroom, even down to the basement. When I tried to get my son to take on this responsibility, he would assure me that he would. However, I resolved to be his back-up man. I seldom asked him to help but would begin to pick-up after our play together and even after his solitary play. I did this because it worked. We had the right pieces when we needed to build something because fewer pieces were lost.

I didn’t have to fight that ugly battle of trying to dictate my son’s behavior. We did not power-struggle over something that had multiple avenues for solution. And best of all, I too found that in the darkness of a midnight wakeup, I was less likely to pierce my foot with one of those easily missed pieces.

 

By |March 21st, 2015|Categories: Relationship|0 Comments