Beyond Helplessness

A few days ago, I received an invitation to co-host a “Dads Webinar” sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The principal moderator for the Webinar, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012, from 5-7 p.m. (EST), is Michael  Berrett, PhD, the CEO and co-founder of the Center for Change ( and one of the world’s leading experts in the field of eating disorder treatment.

Suffice it to say, I’m quite honored (and humbled) to be joining Dr. Berrett in this important effort to reach out to dads. I also welcome the opportunity it affords to share some of the valuable lessons found in my book. What I did not anticipate, however, was that, in preparing my remarks on the topic “Challenges Specific To Being A Father When Dealing With Your Child’s Illness,” I would find myself writing (and reflecting on) these words:

As a dad, there are few feelings quite as dark as the profound sense of helplessness that washes over you like a tsunami when you come face-to-face with the reality that your daughter’s life is quite literally hanging in the balance and that, aside from providing love, support and prayers, there is nothing you can do to affect the outcome. I know that feeling – intimately.  I know what it’s like to hang up the phone and wonder if it’s the last time you’ll ever hear your daughter’s voice.

There is no way to prepare yourself for that moment – no matter how many times you encounter it in the course of a prolonged battle with a life-threatening illness. What you can do, however, indeed what you must do for your own emotional survival is to find peace in knowing you’ve done everything you possibly can for your child and then abandon the search for the “control” you so desperately want, but, in truth, will never have, so that you can love instead – unconditionally.

And then never stop.

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