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Still A Dad has received enthusiastic pre-publication reviews and endorsements:
."Still A Dad places the reader inside the experience... allowing us to form the insight necessary to show compassion, to find strength during periods of despair and to focus on ways we all can help." (Travis Ballard, Esquire, Past President, National Congress for Fathers and Children)
"Poignant and wise, Still A Dad outlines both a personal odyssey and a hopeful road for those who will experience divorce and a search for parental identity. Mr. Prengel has made constructive suggestions to give children what they need post-divorce." (Kim Boedecker-Frey, CSW)
"From the wounded heart of a father who always longed to parent his children into the mystery of personal life comes a passionate essay. Serge Prengel speaks for the countless fathers unseen by the cold letter of the law and for the children deprived of the strong warmth of a dad. A must-read for all the actors on the stage called divorce." (Marcel A. Duclos, Professor of Psychology, Jungian Psychotherapist)
"Still A Dad offers a fresh perspective and hope for all those loving fathers who have been shut out of their children's lives." (Paul T. Finger, M.D., F.A.C.S., Founder, Coalition to Save Our Children)
"Still A Dad validates the pain, rage and powerlessness often experienced by divorced fathers. However, it also provides hope for a brighter future." (Mary Giuffra, Ph.D., Certified Couples and Family Therapist)
"Still A Dad describes the pain and agony of being a divorced dad. It then rises above that to show how to be an effective parent for your child. Excellent work, Serge!" (David Levy, Esq., President, Children's Rights Council)
"Still A Dad provides insight and guidance as to the dynamics that fathers face as non-custodial parents. This is truly a book that speaks of issues of the heart that society ignores... that for too long fathers have shied away from. Bravo, Mr. Prengel, for the honesty!" (Milton K. Louvaris, F.A.M.I.L.Y. Advocates, Family and Divorce Mediation Services)
"Still A Dad gives voice to the intensity of feelings fathers have when what they want in disputed child custody cases seems impossible. It offers eminently practical advice on how to handle difficult situations. I will certainly promote it in my practice." (A. Jayne Major, Ph.D., Author, Breakthrough Parenting: Moving from Struggle to Cooperation and Winning the Custody Wars Without Casualties)
Hooray! At long last, a book written from the father's experience of divorce and his attempts to continue to be a vital part of his children's lives. This is a great source of wisdom, knowledge and support." (Judi Price, CSW, Family Therapist)
"Still A Dad is a must read. It is a warm and sincere account of the trials of fatherhood, with deep insight. Its focal point is that "you will always be the father". It shows how to actualize your parenting role despite the challenges and insecurities. I recommend it for fathers, as well as mothers and grandparents." (Dr. Monty N. Weinstein, Director of the Family Therapy Center for New York and Georgia, Inc. -- Director of Mental Health, National Association for Fathers)
"Still A Dad is an emotional journey on the rugged terrain of divorce. It leads the reader through the thickets and brings you out scarred but safe on the other side. Reading this book will help fathers face the expectations, the pitfalls and the emotional roller-coaster they have to go through." (Howard Yagerman, JD, NYSBA Commission on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice, NYCLA Matrimonial Section, NYSBA Family Section)
John & Jane have a child.
They both love him very much.
John & Jane are not getting along.
They fight a lot.
When John and Jane break up,
You don't belong in here!
Get out of the house!
I want to divorce you, not him!
The child doesn't say much
But he's all torn inside.
Look what you're doing to him.
Jane goes crying to the Judge.
Look what he's doing to my child.
The Judge says:
It is the best interest of the child
That the fighting stop.
John is relieved:
The Judge will get Jane to see
A child needs both parents.
But the Judge goes on:
And for the fight to end,
There is but one way.
It is that you, John, go away.
After John and Jane break up, John wants to share the parenting of their child, and Jane doesn't. They go to court. The custody fight is long and fierce. In the end, the child stays with his mother.
As you read this story, you probably feel uneasy. Such a thing couldn't possibly happen today. Maybe, a generation or two ago when it was more the norm for the mother to stay at home with the children. But, nowadays? When some department stores put diaper-changing stations in the men's bathrooms? These days, diapers are disposable, not dads!
DOE VS. DOE
You may think an important part of the story has been omitted. There may be something the matter with John after all, where there's smoke, there's fire - something in his behavior, past or present, that justifies relieving him of his parental duties. Or, maybe John is a good parent, but his lawyer is grossly incompetent?
But let's say I tell you what happened in court. Let's say I tell you more about John and Jane and their child, Joeyà and you start getting a sense of who they are, what their life is likeà Let's say that, having heard all that, you are reassured that John is not a bad guy. Now, you'd feel that the judge's decision was really unfair.
Well, you'd be missing the point.
Because the point is not that a particular individual is being unfairly treated. The point is that, under the current divorce system, fathers are being systematically removed from their children's lives.
This book is about John, but it is not the story of any one man. It is the story of millions of fathers in this country. It is time for all to know that a divorced dad is still a dad. Time for public discourse and public policy to go beyond gender stereotypes and the fears that perpetuate them. Time to change the laws and practice of divorce in such a way that both parents can be actively involved in their children's lives after divorce.
Even though there are so many of us, we each experience the loss, the injuries and insults of divorce in isolation which makes it hurt all the more. One purpose of this book is to validate the feelings we experience we wouldn't be human if we didn't feel pain, anger, resentment, self-doubt, even despairà These feelings are difficult to deal with, but they are normal. There is no gain whatsoever in denying their existence.
Through all this darkness, there is a guiding light: the conviction that, regardless of circumstances, we are still our children's dads. From this comes the hope that overcomes discouragement and sustains the efforts we make to stay involved in our children's lives. This book describes the personal journey that takes us from the shock of being treated like disposable parents to rebuilding ourselves, feeling whole as individuals and as fathers.
I experienced what, for me, was a difficult divorce. This was almost a decade ago. I have since come to meet many, many people compared to whom my own troubles were relatively minor. Yet, what happened to me was enough to affect me profoundly, to propel my life into new directions.
I began to seek out the company of others who were in similar situations; I started support groups for fathers and became an activist for shared parenting.
I became deeply interested in psychotherapy, as a client, then as a student and a practitioner.
I have been struggling with pain and anger as well as questions such as: How can I be the more of the father I want to be? More of the person I really want to be?
Like everybody else, I have had to deal with these issues in the midst of many pressures, wishing there was a way to escape these pressures just long enough to hear myself think. I have come to understand I couldn't do so, any more than anybody else could. We make up our philosophy of life moment to moment, as we deal with life by making choices big and small.
Life is terrifying if we see it as a series of senseless struggles, a chaotic succession of obstacles hurled our way to block us or destroy us. No sooner have we managed to escape one, that another comes out of left field.
It helps to have a roadmap a sense of what to expect and of where the road goes. My own journey became easier the moment I started to realize that I was not alone, that I could draw on the experiences of others people I could talk to in person, as well as people throughout history who had written about dealing with adversity and life in general.
The purpose of this book is to offer such a roadmap, based on my own experience as well as those of the many fathers I have been getting to know through the years.
Part one: The disposable dad
A hole in the heart
The money trap
From bad to worse
Descent into despair
Part two: An eye-opener
No way, we wonÆt pay
Equality vs. one up / one down
Abuse and violence
Part three: Resolve and Wisdom
Like facing death
We all need support
Victim no more
Something is changing
Settle or fight?
A moral compass
Part four: Divorced-fathering
Focus on the child
Conflict with the child
Part five: Toward peace
Conflict with Jane
The unseen mother
Seeing the deadbeat
About the journey, from the farther shore
Excerpts from the Report of the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare
Notes and References
Posted August 29, 2001
I just finished reading 'Still a dad' for the third time in about 2 years. Each time, it helped me tremendously. Each time, it helped me in a different way. Each time, it has given me the comfort, help and encouragement I needed at that stage of my journey. So I want to write some good words about it. I want to explain to other dads how this book has been helpful to me. A couple of years ago, I was in the middle of the worst part of my divorce. I happened to hear a radio interview of the author in a program very late at night, and I got the book. It helped me feel much less alone. It helped me understand and accept my anger and confusion. It gave me the courage to stand up for my right to be a dad. I re-read the book about a year later. By then, I was getting worn down by the daily grind of divorce. The book helped me make sense of my priorities. It helped me re-focus my energy, to do my best for myself and for my kids. Now the legal battles are almost over (knock on wood). I picked up the book again last night, and didn't go to sleep until I finished it. I feel very moved. Life's starting again. And I'm still a dad!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2001
This was like listening to my boyfriend! So many feelings he has expressed showed up in detail in this book. I highly recommend it for dads; you'll know you're not alone. And I highly recommend it for anyone who is close to a father going through a divorce. You'll get a new appreciation for the pain that isn't often expressed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2000
It made me crazy sad mad then think what have I done not a thing just feel like I was less well not anymore I am trying to get more time with my son joined a group going one day at a time its like and aa or na meeting steps of my life to rebuild thanksWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.