The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me

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9780061778766: The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me

Bestselling author Bruce Feiler was a young father when he was diagnosed with cancer. He instantly worried what his daughters' lives would be like without him. "Would they wonder who I was? Would they wonder what I thought? Would they yearn for my approval, my love, my voice?"

Three days later he came up with a stirring idea of how he might give them that voice. He would reach out to six men from all the passages in his life, and ask them to be present in the passages in his daughters' lives. And he would call this group "The Council of Dads."

"I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives," he wrote to these men. "They'll have loving families. They'll have each other. But they may not have me. They may not have their dad. Will you help be their dad?"

The Council of Dads is the inspiring story of what happened next. Feiler introduces the men in his Council and captures the life lesson he wants each to convey to his daughters--how to see, how to travel, how to question, how to dream. He mixes these with an intimate, highly personal chronicle of his experience battling cancer while raising young children, along with vivid portraits of his father, his two grandfathers, and various father figures in his life that explore the changing role of fathers in America.

This is the work of a master storyteller confronting the most difficult experience of his life and emerging with wisdom and hope. The Council of Dads is a touching, funny, and ultimately deeply moving book on how to live life, how the human spirit can respond to adversity, and how to deepen and cherish the friendships that enrich our lives.

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Review:

Questions for Bruce Feiler on Council of Dads

Q: A Council of Dads is a very original response to receiving a cancer diagnosis. What brought you to this idea of leaving a legacy of voices for your daughters?
A: My daughters had just turned three when I first learned I was sick. I instantly imagined all the moments from their lives I would miss: The ballet recitals I wouldn't see, the boyfriends I wouldn't scowl at, the aisles I wouldn't walk down. Mostly I worried that my girls would miss my voice. Three days later I awoke with a thought, "Here's a way to help my daughters know their father. Reach out to the men who helped make me who I am, and ask them to convey a different message to my girls: How to travel, how to live, how to dream."

Q: How did the Dads react when you invited them to join your Council?
A: The conversations were some of the most meaningful I’ve ever had. It made me realize how rare it is to sit down with your friends and tell them what they really mean to you. I think every one of them cried. Even more remarkable was how seriously they took their roles. Overnight they became a meaningful presence in the girls' lives--a new figure that was different from family, deeper than a friend.

Q: What does your wife think of the Council? Did she help build it?
A: The whole experience brought us closer and deepened Linda's relationship with the men. One reason is that if the Council ever needed to convene for its original purpose Linda would be the one who would have to orchestrate it. But more than that, having a Council created a new kind of community in our lives and gave her a window into how men relate to their friends. The experience was so powerful she's now created her own Council of Moms.

Q: Can anyone create a Council? What advice would you give someone who wants to create their own Council of Dads or Council of Moms?
A: I’ve been amazed by how this idea has spread so quickly. It seems nearly every parent has thought at one time or another about not seeing their kids grow up. I've been especially touched that divorced parents, single moms, military families--so many different people have asked for tips. Some people who lost a parent when they were younger are making Councils retroactively. I decided to set up a website, councilofdads.com, which has a tool kit and a mini-social network where you can communicate with your Council privately.

Q: How are you feeling these days? And what role does the Council play in your life now?
A: Nearly two years after I was diagnosed, I am now cancer-free, though like any survivor I get scanned every few months. (I keep an ongoing cancer diary at brucefeiler.com.) But no matter what happens, our Council will continue. It's the most uplifting community we've ever created; it helps us through adversity; and it reminds us every day to celebrate the friendships we are blessed to have.

The Feiler Family
(Click on Thumbnails to Enlarge)


From the Back Cover:

The inspiring story that touched people all over the world, The Council of Dads is the life-changing portrait of a group of friends who offer wisdom, humor, and guidance for how to live our lives with meaning and joy. Faced with one of life's greatest challenges, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler reached out to six men who helped shape him and asked each one for a piece of advice for his daughters: how to live, how to travel, how to question, how to dream.

Feiler gathered their life lessons, along with a few of his own—"Always Learn to Juggle on the Side of a Hill," "Hug the Monster," "Take a Walk with a Turtle"—into a heartwarming, deeply enriching book that has inspired readers everywhere to start their own Councils of Moms or Dads. Full of warmth and wisdom, The Council of Dads is a singular story that offers lessons for us all—helping us draw closer to our friends, be more resourceful as parents, and celebrate what's important in our lives.

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