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.