Michael B. Finkelstein, MD

Dr. Finkelstein is a dad of 20-, 16-, and 13-year-old children, a board-certified physician in internal medicine and integrative-holistic medicine, and the founder and director of SunRaven, a Center for Holistic and Skillful Living, in Bedford, NY.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while your wife was pregnant, and how did you overcome it? It was challenging to relate to the physical experience my wife was having. While I could see what was happening to her body, I could not feel it quite the same. Much of my experience was in my head, and I had a lot of time to contemplate how my life would change as a result of the birth of each of my children.

Much of those changes were welcome, but there was an adjustment that was anticipated that required patience. Much of my personal and professional development coincided with the growth and expansion of my family. With each subsequent pregnancy, I learned to be more trusting that the future would unfold and be what it was meant to be. I would say, in a way, then, that secular faith had everything to do with how I eventually overcame, or at least dealt with, the challenges.

What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? How much you can learn from your children. In our society, so dominated by concepts like seniority and power, it was surprising that I think I learned more from my children than I have from all of the adults in my life combined. In particular, children teach you more about humanity and humility than any others.

What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? Keep asking, especially when you are triggered, what can I learn from this? This will help you deal with emotions such as frustration and anger, and it will help you be patient and loving, and compassionate.

Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? One stays sane by understanding the nature of the fatherhood “dance” and learning to play well in the sandbox of life. In other words, we need to be careful not to take things too seriously and to maintain a sense of humor. And, at the same time, we need to respect all others involved as intelligent and important beings.

Also, it’s essential that a father take especially good care of himself in a truly holistic way. That includes a limited time away, particularly to recharge and to stay physically and emotionally strong. Also, just as important, one must keep the focus on his role of providing healthy boundaries and structure while demonstrating unconditional love, patience, and compassion. A father is an invaluable role model for his children. That is an important task; one that demands that the man see himself as important enough to take care of the way he would like his children to do for themselves one day.

Dr. Finkelstein’s Q&As

What do you feed your own family?

What do you do when you and your wife disagree about how to raise your kids?