The life of a ‘Dad’

Above, William Buckely and son Henry, 8, walking down the beach in Santa Cruz after Henry placed second in the 21st Annual Santa Cruz Memorial Day Classic. Right, Steve Ciniglio with son Michael, 12, at a Little League game about a month ago. "It is refreshing to be part of his life," Ciniglio said of being a dad to Michael.

Malibu fathers talk about what it’s like being a dad and how fatherhood has changed their lives.

By Bridget Graham-Gungoren/Special to The Malibu Times

There is the saying by an anonymous author, “Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.” Or the Kent Nerburn quote, “It is much easier to become a father, than to be one.”

In the weeks preceding this Father’s Day, June 19, Malibu dads talked about what the word “dad” really means to them, and what it’s like to “be” one. How has being a dad changed their lives?

Tom Sorce, dad to Jessica, 10, Kyra, 8 and Luke, 3 1/2, said his willingness to sacrifice his time and energy for the well-being of his children is the greatest change he has undergone as a dad.

“And the yummiest part [about being a dad], is snuggling with my boy every morning-the most magnificent way to start the day.”

Sorce then entertains his children and wife Donna with his piano playing during breakfast. He laughed and added, all of that happens, “of course, before the horror of getting the kids ready to go to school.”

But it is sharing those moments, he said, that makes being a dad worthwhile.

The most important part of being a dad, he said, is “giving them unconditional love and acceptance. But it comes back to me as well-it’s a beautiful circle.”

Sorce coaches Jessica’s soccer team, and is also active with his other two children. He said his goal as a father is to provide consistency to his children, but also to provide adventure and risk. “Part of being a dad is pushing the boundaries to see what is possible in life, while minimizing the risks.”

He and the children have traveled to third world countries such as Costa Rica and Ecuador “just to see a different way of looking at life.”

“I want them to see a change in consciousness about how others live, to see our gifts, and to give back and assist others.”

William Buckley, dad to Henry, 8, Lainey, 6, and Emilia, 3, said he loves to watch and learn with his children. “I love the emotional bond that builds closeness, the idea of family.

“Being a dad means responsibility for security, instilling fairness and compassion, and teaching good choices. I’m there to explain and encourage,” Buckley said, adding, ” … a dad promotes giving and emotional understanding, in a practical sense.”

Buckley’s Father’s Day weekend plans are filled with a preschool campout, a surf contest with his son-Henry is his “surf buddy”-and camping with the family and wife Jeannie. “It is wonderful to be involved in the life of the kids. It’s an opportunity to be involved in someone’s life in a meaningful way,” he said.

Tony Ciniglio, dad to Tony, 24, Christy, 23, and Michael, 12, said he loves watching his children grow and mature. “Being in their lives keeps me young.”

Ciniglio, born in Malibu, said he and his wife Beth appreciate that their children like to “hang out” with them. He said that having children motivated him to slow life down: “Life is here and now-don’t worry about the small things.”

For Ciniglio, “being a dad means looking out and caring for my children; to nurture, love and try to be a role model.”

Ciniglio coaches Michael’s baseball team, likes to hit the beach and surf with him, and catch a movie as well. “It is refreshing to be part of his life,” he said.

And, he said, he’ll “just hang” on Father’s Day with his children; he’s looking forward to just being with them. “We’ll do nothing, which is good. It’s been a busy year.”

Kevin Montgomery and Dennis Duban are dads to daughter Chelsea, 12, and have lived in Malibu for 16 years. Montgomery said having a child has allowed him to love more deeply than he’s ever felt.

Duban agreed, “When Chelsea was born, it opened an ability to love, more than you think you are capable. And it rolls over into the rest of your life.”

“It’s the greatest joy, and biggest challenge-It’s a huge responsibility … you care about the outcome of this adventure more than anything in life,” Montgomery said.

Duban said that after Chelsea was born, his life was about preparing her for the world. “When I agreed to be a parent, I agreed to all the guidance and nurturing I can give.”

Each said it brings a different purpose and perspective to his life.

Montgomery, the “stay-at-home” parent, said he feels blessed to be active in Chelsea’s school life. And Duban and Chelsea plan outings from picnics to weekends in Vegas. And for Father’s Day, all they know is she is planning a surprise for them.

And while he knows it may sound like a cliché, Montgomery said his daughter, “has made colors brighter, life more beautiful and richer, and the joys bigger.”

Mark Benjamin, dad to Matthew, 23, and Lucas, 20, said, he remembers the day his first child was born. “I drove home, and sat in the car, and thought, ‘well, it’s not about me anymore.'”

Benjamin said being a dad, in the true sense, is that the child comes first, “that love supercedes everything.” And, he explained, “The world looks differently-now it is through a lens of how can I make them become good people.”

And being a dad, he said, is “providing opportunity, while protecting them.”

Benjamin said having children gave him a heightened awareness for consistency. “These two boys, with big eyes and big ears, wonderful hearts and minds, were watching everything that I did,” he said of the responsibility. “And the most pleasure in life has come through my two sons.”

He said it is like planting a seed in a garden, and watching it grow; “only children take longer,” he laughed.