What A Father Looks Like

What A Father Looks Like

Posted by Shelby Comito On 18th Jun 2016

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What A Father Looks Like

What A Father Looks LikeFathers make for a touchy topic, one we considered tiptoeing around entirely. But then we thought, why are we tempted to take the easy road and skirt around the subject? Especially one that so many of us need to talk about. So instead, we decided to dive into this headfirst. We chose four men to aid in the discussion: Robert Sturman, Yoshi Aono, Andrew Rivin, and Ken Karl. We see these influential, inspirational men as fatherlike figures each in their own ways. We asked each of them some questions, and they gave the most beautiful, thought-provoking answers. We have been so eager to share them with you today, and we hope this sparks meaningful conversations with your fathers, partners, family and friends.

Robert Sturman

Official Artist at the 47th Annual GRAMMY AWARDS, 2010 FIFA World Cup Artist Representing the U.S.A., Official Artist of the 2007 US Olympics, and the subject of two New York Times articles, Robert Sturman’s art captures the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana. A dedicated yoga practitioner himself, Sturman's work has increasingly gestured at something beyond the physical, something transcendent. His stunning repertoire runs the gamut from yogis perched on rocks surrounded by the Pacific ocean, to African orphans practicing yoga in Kenya, to breast cancer survivors, bare-chested and scarred. Sturman’s portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansiveness of Malibu's beaches and canyons, the timeless elegance of Walden's New England, or the bleakness of San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere. A native Southern Californian, Robert Sturman lives in Santa Monica with his dog, Chai.

KiraGrace: How would you define the word 'father'?

Robert: The father is the pillar of the child's existence. A selfless human being when it comes to the survival of his children. He's all heart.

KiraGrace: Who has been a father to you in your life?

Robert: Fortunately, my father has always, without question, been a father to me in my life.

KiraGrace: How has your biological father influenced your perception of fatherhood?

Robert: My father has been a living example of the immense commitment needed to take care of a family. He did such a wonderful job taking care of all of us and never asked for a thank you. He's my hero.

KiraGrace: Do you see yourself as a father?

Robert: I do. I know I would love the awesomeness of watching a life grow inside the woman I love and then discovering life with our child. But I'm also very attached to and tremendously fulfilled by my life as an artist, and in this moment, I choose not to compromise my quiet solitude. Check back next week.

KiraGrace: What do men who find themselves in a fathership position need to know or hear?

Robert: Men need to hear that they are the teacher. What your child learns by being with you and witnessing how you live, is everything. School is just a minor detail in shaping a human. So handle your business and be the teacher by being a great example.

KiraGrace: What is one thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?

Robert: I wanted my father to be touched by my work, my humanity, what I stand for. About a year ago, a childhood friend of mine committed suicide. When I found out, I sat down and wrote a letter to my friend and I then sent it to the family. A couple of days later, we went to the memorial, and his sister read the letter. It was very emotional. Afterward, my father came up to me and with a shaky voice, told me that he was moved that his boy could write such a powerful and meaningful letter and he was proud to be my father.

KiraGrace: Do you have a favorite memory with your father?

Robert: The memory we will create tomorrow when we go work out at the gym, watch the baseball game, and catch a little sunshine together. 

What A Father Looks Like

Andrew Rivin

Andrew Rivin blends a traditional athletic and business background with a great love of yoga, philosophy and psychology. He began practicing yoga in 1989. Many years of yoga practice, getting his MBA from Yale, and his experiences initiating micro-enterprises in Africa, Asia and Latin America have given him a unique and well-rounded life perspective. He is a joyful, spirited, and playful yoga teacher who's presence always uplifts and inspires. He currently lives in Cardiff with his wife, Desiree Rumbaugh.

KiraGrace: How would you define the word 'father’?

Andrew: A father is a man who unconditionally loves and witnesses his children grow and evolve, while also setting strong boundaries that contain, protect and support them.

KiraGrace: Who has been a father to you in your life?

Andrew: My own father was a beautiful, open-hearted, warm man, and yet I knew without question that he was in charge. I always felt, within the limits he set, that I had great freedom to play and express and bask in the glow of his love and adoration. I also was very fortunate to have had some powerful, wise, compassionate male mentors in my younger life. These were men who encouraged me and who also called me out on patterns of belief and behavior that were holding me down.

KiraGrace: How has your biological father influenced your perception of fatherhood?

Andrew: As a younger man I was insecure about the prospects of becoming a father myself, believing that I wouldn’t be able to match my sky-high expectations of what a father looks like. My dad was a truly awesome guy, and so perhaps it was partly my perception of his perfection that led me to shy away from becoming a biological father myself. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I felt settled enough in myself, and in full recognition of my dad’s human limitations, to embrace the possibility of becoming a dad as well.

KiraGrace: Do you see yourself as a father?

Andrew: Interestingly I do see myself as a father even though I never became a biological father. I feel that I encourage/guide/coach/uplift several younger friends/clients/colleagues. I am also very close to my wife’s daughter. I adore her as if she were my own. Mostly our relationship is one of friendship, even though I find myself worrying about her just the way a father would. She is about to give birth to her first child and I’m thrilled to have a chance to be a grandparent.

KiraGrace: If so, what do you enjoy most about being a father? What do you find hardest?

Andrew: I absolutely love being called upon for support or a listening ear or even guidance. The most challenging thing for me continues to be to allow, and accept and surrender. I so want to advise and offer my opinion. I feel the best inside myself though when I’m able to stay in a place of remembrance that my opinion is just one view, and not the ultimate truth. This allows me to appreciate the other as other: beautifully, uniquely different from me.

KiraGrace: What do men who find themselves in a fathership position need to know or hear?

Andrew: While being a provider is valuable and very much what we are hard-wired to offer of ourselves, what is far more weighty and sustainable is who and how we chose to be each and every day. We all long for connection and to be a part of something bigger. Open your heart to the ones who are right before you. Stand up, full and strong and bright, and decide in the deepest part of your being to be the father you know you were meant to be.

KiraGrace: How would you define a father's role at home?

Andrew: Presence. Simply being fully present. This means being 100% responsible for who I show up to be in our home. Can I be self-reflective, show my vulnerability, create intimacy and a container in which my family can flower and flourish? Can I be playful and easy in the face of life’s circumstances and forgiving of the mistakes of others? Can I speak my truth, own my needs, without blowing things apart? Can I acknowledge and apologize when I stumble and fall along this path?

KiraGrace: What is one thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?

Andrew: Honestly, I can’t think of anything that my father didn’t say that I wish he had.

Yoshi Aono

Yoshi Aono is a yogi, guitarist and humanitarian. He is the founder of Hanuman Festival, Hanuman Presents and Hanuman Adventures. As the managing director of Hanuman Festival, Yoshi is devoted to creating a heartfelt gathering for the national community. His care and attention towards all things in life comes through in the expression of Hanuman Festival and the underlying message of service for the greater good. He also loves to rip it up on the guitar. 

Yoshi`s humanitarian work spans over a decade and has led him to Africa, Haiti, Cambodia, Thailand and Louisiana. He has coordinated and led tent city aid distribution projects along with leading teams into disaster zones. Yoshi`s spiritual, business and artistic experience allows a clarity to be held close to the heart when working in the depths of the third world. 

KiraGrace: How would you define the word 'father'?

Yoshi: I would define father as a figure who is in unconditional service and provides moral compass. 

KiraGrace: Who has been a father to you in your life?

Yoshi: My biological father was there for me throughout his lifetime. 

KiraGrace: How has your biological father influenced your perception of fatherhood?

Yoshi: He allowed me to understand that no one is perfect, and we just have to try our best. 

KiraGrace: Do you see yourself as a father?

Yoshi: Yes, I see myself as someone who holds safe space and support for my family to thrive. 

KiraGrace: What do you enjoy most about being a father? What do you find hardest?

Yoshi: I enjoy connection and seeing the miracle of growth. Patience is hard for me. It's a constant practice to maintain centered in the midst. 

KiraGrace: What do men who find themselves in a fathership position need to know or hear?

Yoshi: Understand the power of service and to know that this is a gift.

KiraGrace: How would you define a father's role at home?

Yoshi: A father's role at home is to be the foundation for growth and to set the example of how mothers must be respected and held in the highest regard. 

KiraGrace: What is one thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?

Yoshi: You are enough.

Ken Karl

Our founder Kira's partner, Ken Karl, is one of the most humble, reliable, and patient men you will ever meet. Senior Director of Business Development at United Technologies and training for his fifth Ironman, Ken is a father of two of boys, and took some time to give us his take on fatherhood.

KiraGrace: How would you define the word 'father'?

Ken: "Father" is unique to every child, and the meaning of the word develops with the child over time... as the child grows. The definition, I believe, is relative to the time frame in which the question is asked. For me at 54, "father" is more a summation of the journey, the overall guidance, ups and downs, that culminate into where we are today.

KiraGrace: Who has been a father to you in your life?

Ken: My dad of course, still alive in the same house I grew up. I have had several coaches through my swimming career that extolled those ideal father virtues – a judgmental eye and ear, guidance, the questing of our choices and commitment, constructive criticism, yet all given from a basis of unwavering support and positive belief in achieving the goal.

KiraGrace: How has your biological father influenced your perception of fatherhood?

Ken: I believe he grounded it. There is no ideal Father, there is always opportunity as is life. Reflections from my perspective now recognize that he was and is a good man, well meaning and caring, always learning from his own experience; human. Perception of the father needs to be formed over the journey, almost after the journey, for full perspective.

KiraGrace: What do men who find themselves in a fathership position need to know or hear?

Ken: It's not about you... A father needs to try damn hard to pull their emotions and feelings from the task. Parenting is tough work, and it can be unpleasant and difficult not to react at the level of the child's behavior and situation. Kids take time, repetition, and patience. Embrace and appreciate those special moments of parenting when they avail themselves, but those are a bonus and should not be a regular expectation. Sometimes guidance and advice takes a few years to sink in! Stay the course.

KiraGrace: What is one thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?

Ken: He was pretty good, but I would say probably more of "I'm proud of you" or "I love you" when I was young. I do believe this was somewhat common of that generation, and he has certainly made up for it these last 35 years. Or maybe it's just the biased view of a boy's memory during that time? I have no regrets and love my father.

KiraGrace: Do you have a favorite memory with your father?

Ken: We used to fly remote control airplanes, go on family camping trips, him taking me to swim practice at 0530 in high school.... great memories.

KiraGrace: What are the key ingredients for a strong family?

Ken: Strong family comes from having common goals and values. Maintaining a balance of activities and trying to have kids support each other from time to time is great. Practically, limiting the electronics will certainly help, and ensuring the family sits for dinner a few times a week is absolutely critical in this day and age.

KiraGrace: What do you enjoy most about being a father? And what do you find the hardest?

Ken: I have enjoyed so many aspects of being a father. I cherished the play time when the boys were younger, the simplicity of youth and growth. I enjoy now looking at both boys and knowing who they are in their core, and what both are capable to achieve. The hardest part can be the journey itself. The nature of children is to grow, become independent, challenge, and build internal strength to launch on their own. This process and their actions and decisions may not always align with the parents ideas.... not a news headline here. But managing that journey and keeping an eye on the end game is the most challenging thing to do.

What do you think? How would you respond to these questions? We would love for you to share your take with us! Feel free to leave comments below or post on social media and use hashtag #kiragrace. 

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