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Zen and Fatherhood

by Bruce Linton

Thinking about Father’s Day this year, 2016

When I became a lay Buddhist monk 37 years ago I never imagined becoming a father or that I my children would teach me the life truths I had been trying to understand through meditation and dharma study.

There is a story about a Zen monk who wants to become an archer. He seeks out the finest Zen archery teacher in all of Japan. He asks to become his student and how long his training will last. The teacher says, “It will take your whole life.” The monk says “What if I really apply myself very diligently?” The teacher says, “Then it will take you only 30 years.” But says the monk, “What if I double my efforts, how long would it take me then?”  The teacher says, “Then it will take you 70 years.” But says the monk  “How could it take me 70 years if I am redoubling my efforts!” The teacher says “Because you are so impatient, it will take you longer.”

Patients and Fatherhood:

The fast paced world of today’s society addicts us to get more done in less time. It is a trap we all fall prey to. There is a great force pushing us towards moving faster and faster.  As I became aware of this, I let my son and daughter teach me the value of patience, not rushing when my daughter needed time to tie her shoes when she was five, or sitting in my son’s room with him when he was seven and listening to the adventures of his days. These are dear moments now in retrospect. By taking time to follow their pace I became much more connected with them and with the world around me.  We often took leisurely walks together just to enjoy the “beauty of the moment” as we perused our neighborhood gardens. My whole life has been calmer because my children needed me to be patient. It is the number one tool I teach new dads. “The five most important tools in your parenting tool box—  patience, patience, patience patience and patience.”  Read more

Who Was Your Father…Who Are You?

by Bruce Linton, Founder of the Fathers’ Forum

What was silent in the father speaks in the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father. Friedrich Nietzsche

When men become fathers, they are confronted with a profound challenge to understand what “father” means to them. Most men are perplexed by this. In both my personal and professional lives, I have searched to understand why becoming a father is such an uncertain experience for today’s men.

In the fathers’ groups I have led, most men look to their own fathers as examples of how to be parents. Reflecting on their own fathers’ behavior often leaves them feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, angry and ambivalent. In our group, together, we struggle to understand and make peace with our fathers. Many of the men in my groups feel very limited by having a father who was either physically or emotionally absent from their lives. We try to understand how we can be more available and more emotionally connected with our families. Some of the men who had abusive fathers become fearful and wonder if they might hurt their own children. If we must rely on our own personal fathers as teachers or mentors on parenting, we may feel limited. To understand himself as a man, each of us must come to an understanding of his own father and his father’s influence on his life, both positive and negative.

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Parents of Children With Disabilities Get Help From Technology

Amy Williams, Contributing Editor

The moment you hear you are going to be a parent is a life changing moment. The anticipation and birth of a child is a celebration. A time filled with great joy. BUT sometimes life throws in an extra chromosome or an impairment that catches us off guard. Like all children, our babies with special needs are still cherished and present unique challenges for a new parent.

Dealing with an infant who is born with a disability might be overwhelming in the beginning, but with a little love and guidance it is possible to enjoy this childhood stage. Thankfully, in the last couple of decades, modern technology has advanced and allowed a myriad of opportunities for parental empowerment when it comes to raising a child with disabilities.

Empowered Parenting With Technology

The glow of the screens, fast paced games, and easy finger swiping actions make technology a fun toy. However, in the hands of a skilled parent, technology can be used for a variety of ways to improve our child’s quality of life.

Listed below are six ways we can use technology to make the best of our child’s disability:

To know that you are not alone. Social media has connected us in ways that were once unimaginable. Not too long ago, families with kids who had disabilities might have felt isolated and alone. Today, it’s possible to form friendships with parents around the world that are experiencing similar situations to develop valuable support systems.

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How Having a Baby Changes a Couple’s Relationship

When a man and a woman have a baby, it is a profound transition – the most important change in their adult lives. How becoming parents can affect them as individuals and as a couple is still not well understood in our culture. Of all the Western industrialized countries, the United States offers the least support for family adjustment and development. Politicians would like us to believe that we put a priority on family life, but the reality is just not so. How a man makes the transition to parenthood, and how a baby changes a man’s relation to his wife, are very important areas for us as men to understand.

When a baby is born, the focus of the new mother’s attention is on the baby. This is part of the normal developmental process. Mothers become preoccupied with the baby’s needs, often to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. This is part of her biological makeup. Most new fathers are unaware of this normal maternal preoccupation and are often surprised and frustrated at how abandoned they may feel. We have no information about what to expect after a baby is born. Men have very little preparation for this intimate part of life. Childbirth preparation classes often help us share with our wives the experience of pregnancy, but we are unaware of what to expect emotionally after the baby arrives. So what’s a dad to do?

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