The Council of Dads—top row, left to right: Ben Edwards, David Black, Max Stier, Jeff Shumlin; bottom row, left to right: Joshua Ramo, Tybee Feiler, Bruce Feiler, Eden Feiler, Ben Sherwood

Photo: Bruce FeilerĀ 

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The Council of Dads
After being diagnosed with cancer, best-selling author Bruce Feiler was consumed with fears about how his twin girls would live in the world without their dad's love, guidance, approval and voice. "As soon as I said the words The Council of Dads," he told me, "they filled the room. I knew it was an old idea with contemporary relevance."

Bruce contacted six friends from different areas of his life and asked them to collectively help be his girls' dad—to be his voice throughout their lives. What transpired after this request changed the lives of everyone involved. Bruce's friends forged a deeper bond with him. His wife Linda, who would be responsible for managing the council, knew they were creating this for the girls, so everyone was surprised to find the council was really a guide for all their lives.

And the girls gained six amazing friends who will forever be their council of dads...and fantastic models of what it means to be a friend. Each dad had his own life lesson to teach: Remember your childhood and where you came from; be adventurous; live the questions; don't see the wall; live life to the fullest; harvest miracles.

Bruce beat the cancer, and now he doesn't know how he was a parent before he had his council. Teaching far beyond its original purpose, the council has become a lesson about relationships—for everyone. "Creating a council of dads is a gift for any father," says Bruce. "It was incredibly powerful to tell my friends how much they mean to me. Illness was a passport to intimacy." He has shared what he learned in his new book, The Council of Dads. Start your own council with this step-by-step guide. Ladies, there's no reason you can't start a council of moms. Let's just say every parent of a teenager could use some help and support!

Oh, and Bruce's tumor was in his left leg, so walking was the first thing he lost when he got sick. This Father's Day, his girls have informed him he is getting breakfast in bed. His gift to himself? To take a walk with his family, he says, "and make a memory."

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