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Playful Wisdom Asks: What About Fathers?
The neuroscience is conclusive: child development is model dependent. Ideally then, the focus of early childhood development would be to optimize the model-environment each parent represents. Most of the attention and preparation that pregnancy, birth and bonding imply focus on the mother. Then it is all about ‘the baby’. But what about fathers? The role that fathers play is often dwarfed by comparison, historically little more than a pat on the back and a cigar. Yet, the strength, active participation and support each father provides creates a foundation upon which the entire enterprise rests. Imagine each father being as aware, practiced and present, as many are approaching a three-foot putt, when relating to mother and baby during the most critical and formative months of his child’s life. Imagine each father discovering something new about himself every step of the way as he guides and mentors his child’s explosive self-discover. This is what being a father means today and the vision and practice Playful Wisdom invites.
Playful Wisdom is the synthesis of raising three children, now ages forty, thirty and currently two-point-five, plus over thirty-five years researching, writing and interviewing hundreds of top experts in the field, including Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of thirteen books on expansive human potential, and Bev Bos, founder and director of the Roseville Community Preschool, a keynote presenter at over 6,000 professional workshops for childcare providers and early childhood education. The passion and insights of both are featured extensively.
From the foreword by Gabor Maté M.D.
We now know that early experiences largely determine our worldview, sense of ourselves, capacity for relationships, self-concept, mental-emotional balance and, indeed, the very neurobiology of our brains. As a seminal article in the journal Pediatrics pointed out, “The interaction of genes and experiences literally shapes the circuitry of the developing brain, and is critically influenced by the mutual responsiveness of adult-child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years…” The most poignant passages in the book reflect Michael’s willingness to be transformed by his interactions with his daughter, by the life wisdom the child naturally embodies when invited to be herself in the presence of a loving adult who knows when to guide and when to be guided. “As I witness and strive to nurture Carly’s next self- discovery, she is doing the same for me, she at her stage of unfoldment and me at mine,” he writes. “We are each providing for the other the precise catalyst, overflowing with care and boundless affection, needed for the others continuing unfoldment.”
About the author
Michael Mendizza is an author, educator, documentary filmmaker, stage and screenwriter and founder of Touch the Future, a nonprofit learning design center. He is the author of four books: Playful Wisdom: A Father’s Adventure; Magical Parent-Magical Child: The Art of Joyful Parenting; Flowering, a collection of floral and seascape images with quotes by Krishnamurti; and Always Awakening: Buddha’s Realization Krishnamurti’s Insight with Rinpoche Samdhong, with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Michael and his wife share two art galleries that feature designer jewelry, Czech art glass and photography.
He is the president of Families for Conscious Living, Kindred’s nonprofit parent, and a founding contributing editor to Kindred.
Praise for Playful Wisdom
“I love it! Playful Wisdom is an oasis of beauty in a time of insanity. Michael invites us to a most private sanctum, there to discover a universal realm of connection and knowledge. He moves from the intimate to the global, from the personal to the political. His baby whispers a timeless teaching and he listens. In between are quotes from wisdom-keepers and powerful insights from modern science. Michael champions direct sensory love; don’t let gadgetry stand between you and your child, between your child and the world! I thank Michael for the stand he takes: an empathic society begins with how we connect with our children. Playful Wisdom is for all parents who want to learn what their child has come to teach them.”
Psychologist, author of Parenting for a Peaceful World and Heart-to-Heart Parenting.
Playful Wisdom is an intimate journal of an intimate adventure that transforms everyone who takes it. Helping along the way are insights from two of the most respected specialists of our time; Bev Bos and Joseph Chilton Pearce. Playful Wisdom is a meditation, a precious reminder to be touched every day with amazement and wonder, to be innocent once again, this time with wisdom as our wings.
“Playful Wisdom is, in a word, fantastic. It weaves together the writings, passion and insights of three well-known and respected experts in the field of child education and development: Joseph Chilton Pearce, Bev Bos, and Michael Mendizza. Bos and Pearce are featured guests. Carly, Michael’s new daughter, is the star. On the left pages you will find beautiful and revealing color images of Carly accompanied by quotes from Pearce or Bos. On the right is Michael’s intimate and inspiring narrative. The book could stand alone with just the quotes from Bos and Pearce, or the eloquent text of Mendizza, or the beautiful and inspiring pictures of Carly. The synergy of all four is both powerful and engaging. Playful Wisdom is brilliant and inspiring. It rests permanently with my collection of treasured books.”
William R. Emerson, PhD.
A renowned workshop leader, writer, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of pre and perinatal psychology. He is among the first in the world to develop prenatal and perinatal treatment methods for infants and children, is an expert in treatment methods for adults, and is recognized world-wide for his contributions. He is also president emeritus of APPPAH, the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.
“Playful Wisdom is an amazing mosaic of love, wisdom and play, driven by the deep care-taking, hard-wired stuff that is so often suppressed in our materialistic, technological, anti-nature culture. That, plus the years of sage explorations that brought Michael to this place in his remarkable life makes Playful Wisdom a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our children.”
Stuart Brown, MD.
Author, PBS Producer and Founder of the National Institute for Play.
Stuart is play researcher who writes, speaks, consults and educates organizations, corporations, universities, and public policy makers about the importance of play in our lives and the unexpected, serious consequences that occur when play is neglected.
“Playful Wisdom: A Father’s Adventure is a feast, three wonderful books woven together. First, Michael Mendizza has explored the leading edge of human potential. From this deep wisdom and heart he tells the story of his daughter, Carly Elizabeth, and their first two years together. Second, Michael shares what he has learned from his three plus decades of inquiry, with insights from Joseph Chilton Pearce, Allan Schore, James W. Prescott, Bev Bos and many others—by describing his own integral understanding and analysis. Third, given that Joe Pearce offered the most profound insights into human development of the past 40 years, the excerpts Michael offers are a gift for those who have read all of Pearce’s books or for those who will come to this wisdom for the first time.”
David Marshak, Ed.D.
President (CEO), SelfDesign Graduate Institute.
SelfDesign promotes authentic self-discovery and respect for the rights of all learners, young and old, to assume responsibility for their own learning paths.
“Playful Wisdom gives us a rare glimpse into what the role of a father can be! Michael describes going to a restaurant and sitting his daughter Carly on the table so her eyes were at the same level with everyone else. I knew then he was being the kind of father every child would want. Michael was allowing Carly to grow and develop on her own timeline by loving, protecting, and respecting her authentic nature. Even more, he shows the importance of a father’s role in the life of every child. I wish I had a father like that. Carly will not waste her precious life developing skills to overcome the obstacles many parents impose on their children. She will simply to be in the glory of who she naturally is. Playful Wisdom is a gift to every new parent, grandparent, to anyone who cares about children.”
Marilyn F. Milos, RN
Genital Autonomy – America (formerly NOCIRC)
The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
“Michael’s insights and participation as his new daughter Carly explores and integrates her world have profound implications for providing a positive future for every child, and by extension, the fate of human civilization. Playful Wisdom opens wide the doors perception into the new field of behavioral epigenetics, the science of how environment and our perception of the environment are responsible for controlling our genetic activity and health. Michael’s parenting studies are particularly relevant given our new understanding that late in life dysfunctions, such as cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, are seeded by environmental influences experienced in infancy.”
Bruce Lipton, PhD.,
Cellular biologist, author of The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution and the Honeymoon Effect.
“Opening our minds and hearts to the joyous, curious, playful, zen-like nature of children helps us remember what it means to be “fully alive.” Playful Wisdom: A Father’s Adventure is delightful, especially the inclusions of Joe Pearce and Bev Bos as well as the skillful integration of the science that illustrates the remarkable development of a child’s brain. Michael’s synthesis helps us better understand how miraculous children really are and how important it is that we nurture them to reach their full potential. Our future depends on it!”
Lysa Parker, MS, CFLE, CEIM
Attachment Parenting International-API
Founder & Director Emeritus