The Prodigal Father: Reuniting Fathers and Their Children

Overview

The Prodigal Father, written from the perspective of a man who both lost and regained his position in his son's life, maps the process of estrangement and the route to reunion. Grounded in a decade of work in adult education, most notably as cofounder of The Artist's Way workshop techniques, Bryan is an adroit and inspiring practitioner of the skills needed to rebuild lives. His work as a counselor with troubled teens as well as his history as a teen father, an estranged father, and finally a reunited father ...
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Overview

The Prodigal Father, written from the perspective of a man who both lost and regained his position in his son's life, maps the process of estrangement and the route to reunion. Grounded in a decade of work in adult education, most notably as cofounder of The Artist's Way workshop techniques, Bryan is an adroit and inspiring practitioner of the skills needed to rebuild lives. His work as a counselor with troubled teens as well as his history as a teen father, an estranged father, and finally a reunited father allow him to know the problems of father absence inside out. Bryan's voice, from the heart and the heartland, speaks for disenfranchised fathers and families everywhere.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a timely book; the terrible effects of father absence on children and fathers alike are more widely recognized and taken more seriously now than ever before. Bryan himself fathered a child at age 17, married his son's mother and then separated from them both less than two years later. Here he recounts the story of his own tortuous journey back into his son's life after an absence of 14 years. As he tells the story, he provides a modified 12-step program to help other absentee fathers; many chapters end with checklists, assignments and self-questionnaires, and there is also an appendix to help mothers of the children involved. Although some men will be put off by the recovery-movement jargon in the book (the reader is advised to take "gratitude walks," for instance), those who are prepared to make the difficult journey back into their estranged children's lives will find much practical assistance here. (June)
Library Journal
Bryan has put together an admirable package of anecdote and action to get the men who are among divorce's victims moving to heal themselves and their broken relationships. The director of the Father Project and affiliated family research projects at Harvard, Bryan knows the terrain. He married and divorced at a young age; his own odyssey of making things right with his son is powerful and moving. Through his work with other fathers, he has expanded the boundaries of his experience, and here he writes powerfully of men's diminished role in our society's increasingly one-parent families. While acknowledging the difficult underlying causes of family breakup, Bryan urges positive action. Toward that end, the book provides exercises and guidance in soul-searching and corrective action for fathers wanting to build bridges to their children and even the divorced spouse. With reunion and respect the goals, Bryan has provided a valuable manual, written from the trenches.David M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517706176
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/6/1997
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Bryan has been a teacher and writer for over a decade, and is a nationally known speaker in the human potential movement.  He is the cofounder (with Julia Cameron) of  The Artist's Way. His experience both in developing extremely effective self-help techniques for The Artist's Way and as a reunited father led him to create this program to help estranged fathers.

Bryan received his masters in family education from Harvard University and is Director of The Father Project, affiliated with the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology, Boys Development and the Culture of Manhood.  He is currently researching The Artist's Way for Work.  Mark Bryan lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Mark Bryan's Own Story:

"I am a gratefully reunited father," Bryan says. "I remember vividly the fear and confusion I felt when Betsy told me she was pregnant. We were both sixteen, juniors in high school. I wanted to do the right thing, 'be a man.' We married, Scott was born, and we tried to be the happy family we told people we were. But, living in the basement of my parents' house, working days, studying nights, our marriage soon fell apart. When Scott was eighteen months old, Betsy and Scott moved back home to Virginia. I made the 300-mile trip as often as I could, but visiting them became more and more difficult. When Betsy told me she had a new boyfriend and a new life, that I couldn't see Scott anymore, I was devastated. While we talked in the garage, John, ten years our senior, waited in the kitchen to lend her his support. I wanted to argue the injustice of her decision, but John was an intimidating presence. I was tongue-tied and intimidated. Though I don't know if she actually said it, all I could hear that day was that I did not deserve this son any longer. That Scott was better off without me in his life. Too confused to challenge Betsy morally, let alone legally, I got into the car and headed back to Ohio.
        
I can see now the impact that confrontation had on my life. It started for me a downward spiral that became a descent into hell. For over a decade, I drifted in and out of college, in and out of jobs, in and out of depression, alcohol and drug abuse. When I was thirty, I finally sought professional help and turned my life around, facing the fact that my most important loss was my connection with myson. I devoted myself to "becoming the man I would want my son to meet."
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Haunting 13
2 The Shared Trauma of Separation 39
3 Getting Ready: The Return of Self-Respect 65
4 Making Amends to Your Child's Mother 93
5 The Reunions 123
6 First Contact with Your Child 141
7 Different Ages, Different Needs 159
8 Forging New Bonds 177
9 Embracing Your Child's Extended Family 217
Epilogue 237
For Mothers 241
A Guide to Starting a Study Group 253
Bibliography 259
Research Sources 263
Acknowledgments 269
Index 275
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