When journalist Bruce Feiler was diagnosed with a serious illness, he gathered six of his best friends to be there in their own ways for his daughters, writing about the experience in his touching book, The Council of Dads. Here are five easy steps for creating your own Council of Moms or Council of Dads.
1. Choose Your Guidelines
There are no rules for creating a successful Council, but these questions might help. Would you like to have one sex, or both? Family, or just friends? How many members feels right? Three? Six? Twelve? Should you pick only one friend from each phase of your life, or more than one?
2. Select Your Council
Council members might come from any time or part of your life. Different stages—school, camp, work, parenting. Different parts of your personality—spirituality, romance, love of the outdoors. Different activities—fishing, cooking, singing, volunteering.
3. Invite Your Members
Inviting members into your Council can be a deeply moving experience. Do it in person, either alone or with your spouse. Plan an outing or a special occasion. Prepare talking points. Write a letter that your Council member can take home.
4. Unveil Your Council
Introduce the members to your children—and to one another. If you can assemble everyone at one time, do it in person. If not, tell the children in advance and reinforce when they see each member. Ask each member to play a specific role: NatureParent, SportsParent, DreamParent, etc.
5. Establish Your Traditions
Start your Council and then let it evolve (with a little help)! Encourage regular visits of the members with your kids. Plan annual gatherings where some or all of the members can gather. Use e-mail, Facebook, Skype, etc. to share photos, letters, best wishes.
Visit CouncilofDads.com or CouncilofMoms.com to set up a private social network or to learn more about Bruce Feiler's book, The Council of Dads.
From the June 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!