More About the Author
Dr. Bruce Dolin is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in Beverly Hills where he sees individuals, couples and families and has a sub-specialty of working with parents in the service of their children's well-being. Bruce has a BA from the University of Michigan, an MFA from NYU and a doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology. With nineteen years of clinical experience, Bruce draws on a wide range of theoretical perspectives to align with clients to think deeply and work pragmatically to achieve tangible results.
While Bruce (like many of us in his generation) may indeed ask himself, as David Byrne so lyrically suggests, "How did I get here?" He finds himself to be a psychologist in LA, inspired by a passion to support parents in the service of all our collective children--this is where he has decided to plant his flag, so to speak, in an attempt to occupy his own life and our collective situation with as much heart, soul and authenticity as he can muster.
As for the story of his story:
Upon leaving NYU Grad film school in 1986, the doors of Hollywood initially appeared to open for Bruce Dolin (quickly getting an agent, getting TV directing work and writing work), but while he found the god of luck his constant companion, it was mostly bad luck.
He gets a writing gig the week the writer's strike hits; he adapts a Martin Amis novel ("London Fields") but the producer insists on holding out for Stanley Kubrick (who, although alive at that time, never directed a movie he did not write; the agent came close to strangling her); Vin Diesel loves an action movie he wrote, but he's not yet a star and the agents don't see him as star material--they go out to all the studios with a star they already represent and everyone yawns. The capper comes when Dolin gets a job writing an ill-fated action movie with Andy Garcia and private financing... which is a green light until the financier is tragically killed in an avalanche.
In a town where one can die of encouragement, Dolin had to admit that the universe was not particularly encouraging him.
Realizing that he could never afford the amount of therapy it would take for him to survive in Hollywood, he decided to become a therapist--a job that's easier than directing because you get to sit, and easier than writing because you don't have to be alone all day.
While he might have pictured an "Ordinary People" sort of cushy office, armed with his doctorate Dolin ended up in the trenches of non-profit mental health--working with severely emotionally disturbed group home kids (while, along with his wife, raising a couple of little kids of his own). Subsequently Dolin consulted at a private school and built a practice in Beverly Hills. Along the way he found himself thinking about the universal things that matter to parenting across all sorts of divides of race, culture, socio-economics and pathology.
He also picked up a yoga practice along the way.
Realizing that he'd developed writing skills along the way, and with clarity about Hollywood and its being a bad fit with him (producers often told him things like, "you should move to Europe, that's where they make the sort of films you write."), Dolin decided to write a parenting book meant to help parents stop reading self-help parenting books and instead learn to think deeply and trust their own instincts.
After trying (and failing) to please everyone from actors to producers to agents, Dolin finally followed the age-old advice: write what you know. He didn't really know anything about terrorists and action movie heroes (except what any parent learns from tantruming children), but, after a couple of decades of practice, he did know a bit about what worked in therapy--about what helps kids and families heal.
The gods of luck, good and bad, still seemed to be shadowing him. He got a lit agent right off the bat, but then publishing fell off a cliff. Luck's a funny sort of thing.
Several publishers (including MacMillian and Harper Collins) said they loved the book, but claimed that Dolin needed a "bigger profile" (i.e. to be Dr. Phil) in order to justify publishing in an over-crowded market. One publisher even proposed that they work together on a new book--one that would clearly scare parents about some topic and then offer the cure. Dolin respectfully told them that he'd learned his lessons in Hollywood and that such an approach was the diametric opposite to what he'd come to believe actually helps.
While initially meant to "raise his profile," Dolin started blogging (@ www.privilegeofparenting.com) in 2009 and found that it connected him with a community of intelligent parents and writers interested in swapping comments and perspectives on a wide array of issues related to parenting, ranging from arts and culture to what to do if one's child talks about wanting to kill themselves (sadly, his most-read post, often with scores of parents searching specifically for this particular query each week).
Quietly offering quirky perspective and compassionate reason, Dolin and his blogging buddies (mostly moms) talk, laugh, cry and care their way through the morass of shifting fads and tempests in tea-pots, from attachment parenting to the context of the blogosphere, from tiger moms to the race to nowhere, Dolin has been heartened by the tone of respect and authenticity he has found on-line, in quiet eddies of discourse and connection, pulsing steadily below the radar of glaring manic noise and bombast.
While Dolin went to many a Sundance (his wife is a film curator), he never made an independent film. But he realized he would have to make an independent book. Working in that spirit, Dolin served as his own producer, writing to his liking, but then hiring a well-established editor to help tighten his manuscript as well as choosing a designer for the book's cover (and a revamp of his website as well).
"Privilege of Parenting" frames parenting itself as a sort of yoga, a spiritual practice cloaked in endless, often frustrating, expensive and ungratifying tasks. He conceptualizes the challenge of parenting less in terms of knowing what to do and more in terms of how hard it is to consistently be our best Selves in the face of frustration, anxiety, stress and an often toxic and fear-mongering parenting culture. To that end he encourages us to think deeply and work practically--and toward the good of all our collective children, not merely our own precious offspring.
So, while "Privilege of Parenting" does support the reader to be their best Self as a parent, it also challenges all of us to think about the many kids who are indeed left behind, and to consider them in our parenting paradigm, as being central to a better world for all of us.
Dolin says he is haunted by East of Eden, which he read along with his son a couple of years ago, and the idea that if your offering is not received, you just have to make another offering. Nineteen scripts were not received. Perhaps his book, "Privilege of Parenting," will fare better. If not, maybe next time.