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To be a conscious parent, interview with Claus Kostka

"To be a conscious parent"  - An interview about conscious parenting which Claus Kostka gave to a British magazine called "Inspired Fatherhood"

Table of cotent: (click on the question in order to go directly to the answer)

1. Could you tell us about your work and particularly about conscious parenting ? 
2. How important is it for parents to deal with emotional issues from their own childhood? 
3. What is reparenting?
4. How important is enlightened parenting in bringing a about a transformative culture ?
5. What are the ideals towards a partnership should strive ?              
6. Do you think that human potential movement ­ and particularly men’s awareness groups, ­have had any impact on the role of fathers? And do you think there is a difference between Europe and the u.s. in this respect ?
7. How do you think matters of soul and spirit should be addressed with children?
8. Do you see the role of the father changing in the 21st century ?
9. How far do you think the roles of "mother" and "father" are culturally designated? Do you think a man can effectively "mother"?
10. How do you think the large numbers of single-parent families today will affect our society in the future?
11. What is your vision on "family" ?
12. What are ideal conditions for childhood?
13. How have your own relationships with your mother and your father affected your life and work?
14. What advice would you give to actively engaged fathers at this time?

1. Could you tell us about your work and particularly about conscious parenting ?

Before I started to do what I do today I was a photographer. Out of a personal crisis I then started working first with mentally and bodily handicapped children and later in youth psychiatry in stationary care. After 3 years I left this area of work, because I was not able to stand any longer the pain of the abused, tortured, beaten kids. I totally left the social domain afterwards and I learned to be a carpenter.

But the idea of being of service to people never left me, so I took the chance when I was offered a place to study therapy of arts. While studying this subject I started to be in therapy myself. As a consequence of that, I learned everything I could about primal therapy. I got trained in this area and added trainings in conscious breath work, bioenergetics, encounter, counseling, reparenting (cathexis according to J.Schiff) and confrontational therapy. I now work as a licensed psychotherapist and couple counselor in private practice (since 15 years). I do one-on-one sessions, couples sessions, group therapy and through the last two and a half years my wife Anja and I developed a series of talks and one day workshops we call “conscious parenting". I am married and have 3 children: a daughter who is 19 and lives with her mother (my ex-wife) 300 km away, and two sons 7 and 11. We live together with 3 other adults and 4 kids in the moment; by the middle of the year my family and I are going to move to the south of Germany to start another project with 10 adults and 5 children.

The focus of my work has always been to provide the space and the means for you to work through your inner restrictions and to reconnect to your feelings and your vision. This requires ruthless compassion which might show up as confrontation, gentleness or humor, just as the situation and the person asks for.

There is nothing we have to attain, because everything is already here, except that we mostly forgot about our own deep treasures and start to seek something somewhere outside (if we start to seek and to inquire at all !). In our lifelong attempt to make sense of our world, we started already as children to create a certain story about us and our world, which totally disempowers us and does not allow us, in most cases, to grow up as an adult, to become a creative and responsible being we are in essence. We do everything to be right about our story (a good example for a story is: "nobody loves me"). This attempt to gain at least a certain security in our world, ­ even if it is a negative one, ­ totally keeps us away from our God-given potential and we end up as a frail reflection of what we could have been (and probably had been planned to be).

Conscious Parenting means a lot to me because I see in it the only possibility for create another world for our kids to live in. I do work with people who have not been brought up consciously but had to suffer the consequences of their parents pain and their state of deep trance. 

Nobody can understand a father who tortures his 1,5 year old son by tying him on his back, jumping in the sea and diving short periods. Or can you? The only possible down to earth explanation for this is that the father himself has been exposed to unthinkable practices so that he himself needed to close down any feeling in order to survive. There has been this turning-point in one's life from where he had to turn any human being into an object because any other approach would reactivate his own pain. So, the situation is kind of tacky: On one level this father is victimized and in deep confusion himself and on the other hand he performs acts we could just call crimes.

Conscious Parenting sometimes means conscious suffering because it means to be exposed with no mercy to our own deepest fears, to our underworld, to our best hidden secrets. 

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2. How important is it for parents to deal with emotional issues from their own childhood? 

Does this enable them to become effective, even fulfilled parents? 

We as human beings are what I call "repetition-doer". Mostly, our repetitions are way out of our consciousness. Especially when we get in stress, we tend to repeat what we have learned at home ­no matter how good our intentions are. Bad news: there are moments in our life when we act like machines with no consciousness whatsoever! 

Let me give you a personal example: When our elder son started to find out about how to eat it became pretty messy on the table, on the floor, everywhere. I had a pretty hard stand these days because I was trained prim and proper, eat what is on your plate, use fork and knife, don’t mess with food, all these orders you may very well know yourself. So, I was having a hard time but through talking a lot to my wife and to other members of our household, I managed to gain a certain equilibrium. When it became too tough for me I sometimes just left the table to eat somewhere else and told my son that he is fine to explore the food the way he does it but this is not working for me right now so I leave now and I will be back in a couple of minutes. One day I was in a pretty bad mood and was not able to see the writing on the wall that said "shut up and leave", so like out of nothing I started to talk to my son about the way he was behaving in a very demeaning and discounting way. My wife looked at me in a certain way and instantaneously I knew "something was off". Then she smiled and said "hey there was your father, looking over your shoulder". This is it! I could recall the moments when he talked to me exactly the way I had done it a moment before to my son: demeaning, discounting and shaming. 

This is what I mean: such things happen when we do not start to explore our past, when we do not disarm the bombs, forgotten in our basement. We tend to reactivate them without any conscious choice and put them on our kids (and the examples I encounter in my work vary from a kind of history-based reactiveness in shaming kids to sexual abuse, torture like beating kids or locking them up in their rooms etc.) But do deal with own childhood traumas is only one side of the medal, the other side is a conscious decision about what my life should be like and what I am willing to invest in this goal.

Only if you combine your own exploration and healing of childhood traumas with this conscious decision and with a net of people who are willing and capable to support you through the traps of your story, only then you will be able to fight against the might of your tendencies and habits. 

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3. What is reparenting?
Reparenting is a therapeutic way for healing deep childhood traumas. Developed by Jacqui Lee and Moe Schiff, this therapeutic school became a kind of "last hope" for children and elder persons who have been diagnosed as "schizophrenic". By closely observing these kids, they found out they had a severe defect in the part of their personality which transactional analysts calls the "parent-ego-state". By certain strategies and techniques they succeeded in replacing the old parent injunctions by new ones. To be able to do that, they literally took on the task of being father or mother for the "kids" (who were from 20 to 30 years old). Who is interested in these fascinating facets of psychotherapeutic work can read the book "All my children" by Jaqui Lee Schiff.

So, this way of working is of course not reserved for psychotic patients but applies also to us "normal neurotics". We have the chance to re-live certain parts of our past with a feeling and compassionate therapist at our side. 

For example a man who had always been meager came into my office. While working together, we found out pretty fast that he has never been held and nurtured properly when he was an infant. So we made a contract: every time we met for a session, a part of this session was reserved for a feeding ritual. The ritual was, that he declared to be small now and that I held him like a father would hold his little son (which was kind of funny sometimes, because he was taller than I am) and fed him a bottle with warm, sweet milk. After the ritual he remained in my arms for a couple of minutes, then I did ask him to come back and be adult again. Sometimes I had the impression he would come back from another planet. A couple of weeks after we had started this treatment he started gaining weight, slowly but surely. This is what is possible by reparenting: You can "fill up" parts of your being which have been "underdeveloped".

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4. How important is enlightened parenting in bringing a about a transformative culture ?

I would not use the name "enlightened" parenting because I have met only two men in my life whom I might call "enlightened". I do prefer the term conscious parenting.

Conscious parenting is as important as the air is for breathing, for the creation of a transformative culture. It’s that simple. And it’s the only chance we have to prevent this earth from becoming a hell realm. On the other hand we should do it just for the sake of our children, just for their laughter, for their happiness and their peace of mind. We have the unique chance to break through the patterns of numbness and cruelty to create something truly human for our western context. Will we use it? Will you use it? I decided to do what I can and would be more than happy to know that there are more co-workers.

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5. What are the ideals towards a partnership should strive ?               

Woow, that’s a pretty big question. I’m just starting to work on a book with this subject. To me partnership or relation is everything. There is no life outside of the domain of relationship. I see three main qualities which are crucial for developing of a real partnership: compassion, generosity and friendliness.

Compassion: the quality we lack most is compassion, especially in the realm of relationship between man and woman. Man and woman are so deeply distinct from each other, so different, that you could easily say, ‘Men are from one planet and women from another". 

In my marriage we could work out a lot but there was one area we always got in trouble with each other. This was the area that requested compassion instead of righteousness, understanding instead of insisting, listening instead of opinions. When we managed to allow us being compassionate with each other and becoming vulnerable and defenseless, we entered a completely new and unknown land.

Generosity: We tend to be very narrow, very petty with our partners. This does not mean that I am in favor of this all pervading "everything goes and everything is fine" mentality. I think a healthy relationship must have healthy boundaries. On the other hand, why not give our partner the benefit of a doubt? Why is it so important for us, to always look good, to always be on top (not only in sexuality)? I had a nice little thing happening to me some years before. I was waiting with a friend of mine for his wife. She was 30 or 40 minutes late. I was pretty upset about her delay but I kept it to myself (sometimes it is more useful if you keep things to yourself and allow them "to work you out" instead of blurting them out no matter what). When she finally came I was ready for an explosion. My friend got up, smiled at her and said something like. "Hi dear, perfect timing, we were just ready to go." She looked at him unbelievingly (and only then I could see how she must have hurried because she had sweat pearls on her forehead), then a wonderful smile appeared on her face (a minute before she looked pretty defensive) and the afternoon was saved. He was just being generous.

Being generous also means to be aware of the fact that the other person is suffering to the same degree as I do and that the other person does his/her best to the same degree as I do my best. No need to be a petty tyrant.

Friendliness means the capacity to be bigger as your tendencies in every given moment and to really give to "you" more attention than to the "I". The quality of the day can change completely if you allow yourself to be friendly, no matter what. Of course it is important that, before taking on this practice, you have learned to express all of your feelings, especially the unwanted ones like fear, rage, sadness and so on. Then you need to be able to feel these feelings inside without being driven to express them no matter what. Just let them work you out internally and be friendly. It is also important to know about the main tendencies of men and women: Women always know better and men always are right. If you take this into consideration the next time you get in trouble, you will definitely find a new and probably even pretty humorous way out of the situation. Another clear and often misunderstood difference is the fact that men want to solve problems and women just want to communicate. So, guys, next time she is complaining or talking about problems or just sharing how her day was, she is asking for your total undivided attention. Just give it to her without trying to solve or to fix something for her. You will be delighted about the results!

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6. Do you think that human potential movement ­ and particularly men’s awareness groups, ­ have had any impact on the role of fathers? And do you think there is a difference between Europe and the U.S. in this respect ?
Yes, I think there has been a significant influence by the human potential movement. What I found very comforting was the development of a certain way of men relating to each other that becomes more and more a quality of friendly partnership instead of competition and fear. I mean, the most important feelings for men are fear and anger. Every men is an angry time bomb ­ as long as he is not willing to deal with his childhood and with his tendencies. It is pretty easy to go through life and never question yourself about what you are doing. Because questioning means that you are willing to expose yourself to feedback, to criticism, to vulnerability. This is an area where men tend to be pretty shut down as a result of a deep hidden fear of extinction. Men have always been responsible for the safety and the protection of the tribe (or the family). This is deeply engraved in the oldest parts of our brains and we are having a hard time to accept the existence of this fear, to work through it and to find out that it is not us who is totally responsible for the safety and ongoing existence of our families, the human race, the earth. Of course we are kind of agents, who have to do our job (and often we do lousy job) but in last consequence, we are nothing but little parts in a plan that is way bigger than we can even imagine to understand.

Concerning the men’s movement in the states, I can only give you a few personal observations: I have the impression that American men have way more difficulties to relate warmly and friendly with each other. I experienced the level of aggressive and fear-driven acts of behavior in relationships, much stronger than in Europe.

I remember that a friend of mine, who has spend a good part of his life in jail in the U.S., told me that the toughest guys in his cell block were scared to death when they were offered the first sensitivity trainings. And afterwards, the ones who had done the trainings reported good influences and new possibilities which were described as "life-saving".

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7. How do you think that matters of soul and spirit should be addressed with children ?

Well, first I want to tell you a little story: My 7 years old son asked me "daddy, can you survive without food more than 4 days?" I told him that this is possible and explained to him about food and drink and fasting and all of this. Then I asked him "Can you survive without water more than 4 days ?" he shook his head. I then asked, can you survive without love longer than 4 days?" he thought for a moment and then he said "yes". Then I asked "Can you survive without God for more than 4 days?" He looked at me and very emphatically he shook his head.

If the child asks you, give him a straight, down to earth answer. Do not be too complicated, mostly they are content with one or two sentences. They are not interested in hearing a complete discourse on God. Do not hesitate to bring in your own insecurity or your own opinion. But always make it very clear that this is your opinion or your experience and that there are a million things between heaven and earth which are possible and real for one part of people and impossible and not real for the other part.

It is very important that you totally leave it to the kid to unravel his or her personal relationship to the divine or the spirit. In order for this to happen, you need to prepare a ground for the child that provides him clarity, protection and complete freedom of mind and feelings. Never indulge in a kind of sentimental acknowledgement of the stuff your child said or did ("This was so sweet my dear, I love you for saying this...."). Just be a witness and make the communication: "You are doing fine and you will find what is necessary for you, the same way that I found what is necessary for me." Another pretty important factor is the way you live your life. Do you live a spiritual life? Do you have a spiritual practice which has integrity and consistency? How does your practice influence the way you are dealing with your child or children? 

To me, it is a joke if you, let’s say, meditate every day for a couple of hours and when you leave your meditation, you treat your wife and your kids like shit. Real spiritual practice opens a way for your children to find their own path. And even if this is completely reverse to what you think they should do or think, it’s their life. You are just a well intended companion on their way. You know some of the traps which you can point out to them but you do not know their way.

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8. Do you see the role of the father changing in the 21st century ?

I hope it will not change. We have enough changes in the world around us, so we need at least some stability in our families. I think it is pretty clear that "father" has to redefine certain behaviors, and thought patterns. Violent fathers ­ either verbally or bodily, ­ are absolutely not tolerable. That’s for sure. Also, fathers who shame and discount children, are destructive to the children, to the mate and to themselves.

What we need is a father who is not afraid of his feelings, who can be vulnerable, who is enough "man" to set well meaning boundaries which are accepted and honored. He needs integrity and loyalty and a deep sense of responsibility. At the same time he should be able to care for his family and ask for what he needs (all these qualities - spoken aside ­ - well not be achieved by going in the forest, playing the drums and dancing half naked around campfires. This is just ridiculous and will not bring any achievement except another piece of narcissistic self contemplation). Sounds like an egg-laying-wool-milk-pig, eh? But I know very clear that we men, have the ability to be that big. We just need to stop complaining and start to deal with what is real in our lives.


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9. How far do you think the roles of "mother" and "father" are culturally designated? Do you think a man can effectively "mother" ?

There are definitely parts which are culturally designated and others which are kind of "universal". Universal for example is the fact, that every child needs his mother during the first 3-5 years which then slowly changes towards the father. The mother represents the more caring and comforting part, the father’s part is more a challenging one (it is important to see that there are always exceptions to the rule and that you need to find your own place and definition; sometimes it helps to get some orientation from ideas like the above one). 

In Germany we have a saying: "woman is the garden, man is the fence". This kind of saying illustrates the different roles mothers and fathers have for their children. And again: it is only a possibility for orientation, not truth! "Unfortunately" God made us into so many facetted of himself that there are only very little basic truths.

A man can mother, no doubt. He has the capacity to take over a lot from what she would be doing. But it is still not the same. And if this had been planned by creation, men would equally be able to give birth to children, wouldn’t they? It is a big danger to think we are the same. Man and woman are nothing less than the same. And this creates the wonderful possibilities which are intrinsic to the nature of relationships. 

Men can develop much more their feminine side, than they do in the moment -- but we should never forget, that we are men, and not woman.

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10. How do you think the large numbers of single-parent families today will affect our society in the future?
To me, a family consists of father, mother, child (or children). It is disastrous that more and more parents live alone with their child. What happens is that neither the child nor the parent can get his or her needs met? It is a never ending story of need and missing satisfaction. This creates people who are, ­ on the parents side, burned out and deeply resigned and ­ on the child’s side, ­ children who have a certain belief system which may vary from “I am not welcome to one half of the world (the missing parent) to "there will never be enough for me".

Children up to the age of 5 tend to take everything personal, even and especially things they do not understand. Divorce? I created it. Mummy is ill? My fault. Daddy is mad? I did something wrong. So the child who has to deal with all these circumstances will develop a pretty poor self-confidence and has to deal so much with issues that are not the child’s problem, that they become "old" very fast. As I said earlier, we are bound to repeat what we have experienced ourselves (if we do not work through our pain, sadness, anger etc. and get some conscience). The child who grew up only with one parent, will probably tend to engage in relationship very early (out of fear and the feeling of hunger for being cared of) and will probably choose with tremendous certainty, a partner with whom she or he will re-experience the drama of his or her  childhood. If this has happened already a couple of times, the person will close down more and more and he or she is no longer willing to risk to get hurt.

This will dramatically enlarge the number of people who live alone, probably sitting in front of the computer, surfing the Internet, doing everything "online". Such a growing number of people who have quite some problems to be in relationship and to be nurtured, will be a perfect target for all kinds of businesses that will sell them substitutes. So, for profits is not so bad that we have this growing number of people with quite a few problems in the domain of relationship. But for God’s creation it is a catastrophe.

Just a few words for people who are alone with their kids for a variety of reasons: If you don’t want to engage in a relationship right now, living in community with a couple of other mothers and fathers is the possibility of choice. I know pretty well how damn hard it is to be alone with one or two children and that fathers and mothers need support. You cannot create and enlightened culture without support. And the best way for you to make support accessible for you and your children is in community living. And please don’t tell me, you can never do that. If you want something healthy and new for you and your children, it needs some risks. And, there are so many ways to work it out so that it will be fine with you and your likes and dislikes.

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11. What is your vision on "family" ?

If you decide to live together, probably to have children, then family is the only possible option. The next step is a group of families, living and working together on stuff which they consider important, for example self development or spiritual practice. It is crucial that we do this step to overcome the structures of the minute families, because an enlarged family gives you much more opportunity not to fall in the traps of your tendencies, than a minute family.

Family is the only form I know (speaking for our culture) where the possibility for personal growth and satisfaction, for closeness and warmth, for feedback and struggle, for humanness and integrity, for responsibility and learning is very likely to exist (does this sound idealistic?). Of course family is also a place for violence, for abuse, for torture, for oppression and the daily fascism. There is the saying "the higher the monkey climbs, the more you see his ass" which means to me the more possibilities you have in one direction, the more you have as well in the other direction. Just do a little experiment: remember your family. Probably you will remember instantaneously stuff that was painful, devastating or violent. Ok, honor your recall. Then ask yourself: what do I like about me? What are some achievements I had in my life, which I am proud of. Ok, then look back again, like having different glasses now and find out who taught you this. Probably you will meet a lot of resistance because this is am unusual way for you to look at your past. But you may as well allow yourself, to find out that your family, your dad and your mom have been responsible too for the things you like about yourself (as well as for the opposite). This is the first step towards embedding your history in a different, a not discounting way. We can only become men if we start to honor our dads (and even if we think that what we honor is atomically small or it does seem unimportant to us).

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12. What are ideal conditions for childhood ?

This is hard to answer, because everybody has his special, unique and unmistakable life. Everybody has to meet certain challenges for his personal development. But one can give some overall data: mother should be available full time and should want to do stuff with the child rather than to clean and to wash until things become as clean that you can eat on the floor or rather than trying to get rid of her responsibilities in order to be able to get back to her career as fast as possible.

Father should be a constant and reliable source of income. He should be with his kids as often as possible and just hang out with them as well as make projects with them.

The child should be the no.1 preference for both parents. This means for example, if you sit at your computer and you do this incredibly important work and you child comes in asking you something, you just stop your work and give him your undivided attention. Your work can wait, he or she cannot. Treat your child with respect and integrity. Talk to him in a normal tone of voice. Never do baby talk. Explain simple and clean the stuff he or she is asking you for.

Never ever shame or blame him or her. Never beat a child or use other forms of physical violence, never threaten a child and never lock him in. Never ever yell at him or her and never loose your temper. It is fine to tell him that you feel pretty angry because this or that happened but never hold him responsible for your feelings. You are responsible, nobody else. (I need to take a break. A guinea pig is running over my desk and my son wants me to take care for her for a minute because he needs to pee). On the other hand if you fail, don’t be too proud to ask you child to forgive you and confess your own feelings to him or her. This makes an incredible difference in the child’s life. We can start to say something like: "I feel sorry for what just happened. It was not ok and it has nothing to do with the way I want to be with you. But I’m still learning and I try to do my best that it will not happen again".

Sleep in one bed as long as possible. We build a big bed, 2 by 2 meters and when our second son was born we added another 1 meter bed. Children do not want to sleep alone. They are not bound to be alone. Give them the chance to be with you at night. Sex? No problem. Just be a little less loud. Or use another room. There are enough possibilities if you look for them (our kids never woke up). Respect privacy. If your child doesn’t want to speak, just let him. Only offer your willingness for communication now and then and leave it up to them. Respect privacy in bathroom.

Live a good relationship with your partner. Show affection and love for your mate in front of the children (for example, I do not remember having ever seen my parents hug, so in the beginning I felt pretty stiff to do that in front of the kids, but it totally changed. I have even the impression that they are delighted witnessing and experiencing our affection and love). This can also include struggles and arguments. But never fight in front of the child. It is fine to disagree with what your partner says, wants or decides. But at the same time, respect her decision (if it is not really dangerous for the child’s well-being). Let the child know that you had decided differently but mummy did it that way and that you are willing to respect that.

Let the child always know that your struggle and your feelings have nothing to do with him. You need to say it (it’s not enough to think it), like: "I feel totally angry and it has nothing to do with you. I had this argument with my boss and I’m still furious. I will go now in my room and do some voice exercises to get down again, be cool, it has nothing to do with you". I had one experience when I had a very bad day and because I was stressed I got pretty impatient. So, I was in the bathroom and everything the kids did there was to slow and just wrong. For a certain time I could hold it, for myself but then I burst out: “Jesus, can’t you be faster? I feel totally angry and impatient." Before I could go on, my 11 years old son looked at me with a look of deep compassion and said "yes, daddy, I know, it has nothing to do with us".

Be a source of comfort, safety and protection for your child, without trying to hold it all away from him. He needs to know that you are there for him and that he is perfectly all right to make his/her own experiences. Just be human and do not pretend to be perfect. Show your strength as well as your weaknesses. Forget about the threat: "you will spoil your children if you give them what they want". You cannot spoil a child if you give him as much affection and body contact as he or she wants. You will only create a being who rests in itself and has a very clear and distinct perception that she deserves to be loved, held and stroked. But at the same time, you need to understand the proper timing for hugs and kisses, do it for your child, not because you need it (it is easier to get it from a child than to ask another adult for what we need).

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13. How have your own relationships with your mother and your father affected your life and work ?

Big time. Without them I would not be who I am. I mean this in both directions: positive and negative. I grew up in a normal German middle class family. We had our breakdowns (as the alcoholism of my mother and the absence of my father because of his work and personal interests) and I needed to work through them. It was not so easy as it may sound just now, but I did what I needed to do to make peace with this period of my life. 

The most important step for me was when I stopped accusing them and victimizing me and started to acknowledge them for who they are. My daddy taught me integrity and loyalty, he showed me the importance of honesty and that you should never forget who you are, no matter what the circumstances are. My mum taught me friendliness and that there is always a possibility, even in the darkest moments. She also showed me how important is to have friends and to never go on the lonesome rider path.

Why do you think that, in spite of all we know, modern parenting and nurturing are glossed over in favor of achievement orientation and insensitivity to the real needs of the child? The world is getting colder every day. If I watch the news about wars at TV, if I look in the face of people every day on the streets, if I hear the stories of brutality and torture in my practice, I have this one question: What is missing? It seems, that despite all our obvious developments of conscience and social standards, one part in people is pretty much under-developed. To me this is the soul part. Soul has not been fed for a long time. With the decay of the organized religions most people lost a kind of "anchor" in a different reality. This does not mean that I am in favor of the organized religions but at least they had something to offer that was bigger as our little, restricted and ego-oriented way of dealing with things. Most people never understood that care of the soul is as important as food and shelter. In my opinion there are groups in the world who picked up pretty fast on this development and they offered people a new religion: materialism (probably it was vice versa: materialism was introduced first and started the descent of the importance of the soul work, because soul work is most of the times work that requires effort, discipline, as well as dedication and time. This was suddenly no longer necessary because the new "gods" were much cheaper.) 

The answer to all questions is money, consumerism, TV and "leave me alone" mentality. How can I feed other souls, the souls of my kids, if I have no idea that my soul is missing something, literally starving, let alone if I do not know how to feed myself?

The other problem I see is that along the substitution of real soul food, people tend to become pretty comfortable and not willing to be challenged by their kids. Kids have to be clean, without problems, silent, nice, good in school and so on. Kids are just a disturbance to the normal ego oriented human being. Real kids need time, and they do not fit into the normal thinking and behavioral categories of our TV and computer ­ society. 

People need to understand that the answer to the most important and urgent questions of our days will not be found in science but in real humanity. A scientist who is functioning like a machine can develop all kind of cruel and unimaginable warfare agents and even think he is doing a favor to mankind with it. But a feeling and thinking scientist, who has a good center and a deep, strong relation to his soul, will not fulfill this kind of work. He or she will just simply say "no thank you, I’m not interested". This is the kind of people we need so urgently.

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14. What advice would you give to actively engaged fathers at this time ?

Do not hold back. Do not sacrifice your child on the society’s altar of good behavior and destruction of the individual. Just be courageous and find other fathers, come together with them and talk, give feedback and support to each other without any sentimentality or agenda (like "boy, we are wonderful, aren’t we?"). Develop a good working team, get feedback from your wife also and listen to her. You must not necessarily agree with her but listen and honor her view of life. Only then she will be able and willing to follow you into unknown land (which is wonderful ­ but don’t forget: it is also frightening at the same time).

And be gentle with yourself. It’s important to challenge yourself and to be challenged, but be gentle and loving with yourself at the same time. Do not beat yourself up for not being able to fulfill at once, what you wanted to fulfill: you carry around the bones of your ancestors and growing needs time. 

If you have listened to everything, if you have taken everything which was given to you in the sense of "yes", then the universe becomes deeply mothering towards you and transformation can occur.

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