How to wring compassion out of your child

IMG_0824My 6 year old son wants to quit his Kung Fu class. Last time I drove him to the Kung Fu studio, he threw a tantrum and wouldn’t get out of the car.

I threatened him by explaining how he would not get Christmas or Birthday presents for 5 years to pay off the non-refundable tuition we paid for the whole year.

I shamed him by telling his younger brother what a big boy he was for not “crying like a baby,” even though I am reading Brene Brown’s research on the horrible consequences of shaming.

You see, my son cries more than any child I know. If you mix his eggs with too much soy sauce, he cries. If someone closes the door to his room at night, he cries. If you don’t put enough toothpaste on his toothbrush, he cries. All this crying drove me crazy until I realized why.

After a severe beating from my step-father, I was sitting on my bed with a switchblade on my wrist. I just wanted the abuse to stop. I started sobbing because I felt like such a wimp. Not only did I scream like a little girl while being beaten, but I didn’t even have the guts to jab the blade into my skin and end it all. Suddenly,  my step-father pounded on the door and screamed, “SHUT UP BEFORE I COME IN THERE AND GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO REALLY CRY ABOUT.”

From that day on, I hated crybabies. When my girlfriends shed tears after I gouged them with hurtful words, I looked down on them with pity. When players cried for an end to practice after running liners, I made them practice longer. I took pride in the beatings I took on surfboards, skateboards, and snowboards.

When I was really young, I used to cry while watching Little House on the Prairie. I was what is now known as a sensitive child. That was before I had the compassion beat out of me.

“Visiting the Iniquity of the Fathers on the Children”

God gave me a mirror in the form of a child who is a HSB–highly sensitive boy. I now realize that I need to not only re-connect with my sensitivity and compassion, but I also need to cultivate that compassion and sensitivity in my son.

I cringe at all the times I made him wince by raising my voice or my hand.

My son was born to be what I have been striving to be–a compassionate man. Yet, I was determined to “toughen him up.”

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrew: My God, are we gonna be like our parents?
Claire: [teary] Not me…ever
Allison: It’s unavoidable, it just happens.
Claire: What happens?
Allison: When you grow up, your heart dies.

 Maybe there is a reason why The Breakfast Club is one of my all time favorite movies. I could empathize with John Bender–I felt the blow when he struck the air while acting out a conversation with his abusive father. I also vowed like Claire that I would never be like my parents. I would never abuse my children, but it was unavoidable. Although I didn’t beat the compassion out of my son, I was definitely wringing compassion out of him.

Thank God for my wife who is a psychologist and the book she gave me, The Strong Sensitive Boy: Help Your Son Become a Happy, Confident Man by Ted Zeff, Ph. D.

I now practice what I preach about compassion starting in the home. If I can’t cultivate the compassion that already exists in my son, how can I help myself and other men cultivate compassion?

I refuse to let my heart die. I choose to celebrate emotions, honor tears, and cherish connections.

I love you, Jett. You don’t have to take Kung Fu ever again if you don’t want to.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you been severed from your compassionate self? Do you know a sensitive child? Please share.


65 comments on “How to wring compassion out of your child

  1. Alison says:

    Oh Kozo, I was the sensitive child, and made wrong for it, with a mother who couldn’t understand it. Somehow we all come back round to the truth though, somehow or other – people like you, and me, and many others.
    Lovely post. I’m so glad for you, and your sons that you’ve seen why the tears so upset you – it was the little boy within you, not your son who was so upset.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      You hit the nail right on the head, Alison. It was the little boy in me that was so upset.
      In the book I mentioned, Zeff argues that this sensitivity when nurtured can become a huge asset. I believe that sensitive children like you and I, who come back round to our sensitivity, have the ability to lead others to peace. So glad to have become dear friends with another sensitive child. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  2. Your stepfather and my grandmother should’ve gotten together for tea. They had a lot in common.

    Allison was always my favorite character in The Breakfast Club. 😉

    It breaks my heart to know you understand how this feels. I spent a good portion of my childhood and teenage years being angry as hell because of it. Now, I’ve come full circle. I’m just as sensitive if not, more than I was as a child.
    Comfort him when he weeps, Kozo. Even when it seems hard to do so. People like us feel things intensely. Harshness will just seem magnified times 10 to him. I know, trust me.

    Your wife is a smart lady, Kozo. You’ll do just fine. Especially, with her by your side.
    I’ve seen that sensitive side in you emerge as well & truly believe you are healing.
    There’s been a transformation in you that can even be seen through your words. (For those that are willing to see it.)
    You’ll do just fine.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      J. thank you so much for your kind and nurturing words. I wish I could have read them when I was 5 years old. Yes, harshness for sensitive children is magnified time 10. I recognize the same flinch in my son to screaming that I had as a child. Our primitive brains were seizing control in a fight or flight activation which suppressed our higher brain from empathizing or feeling compassion. I notice how sometime my older son yells at my younger son and realize where he got this from.
      I am so blessed to be surrounded by empathic and compassionate women like my wife, you, Alison, Rara, and Maddy. I am truly blessed. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  3. I was an ultra sensitive child and its bled over into my adult life. Its funny, I used to wish I would have somehow learned to be tough and strong and adapted the skill sets to land on my feet evenly– till one day when I was in the hospital a loved one told me, the world does not know how to react to the tenderhearted– they are not ready for you hence, they slowly break you down to the point where you want to disappear. You know what Kozo? You have recognized your sons gift and you understand him and by taking your stance you now help to provide HIM the ability to be who he is and thrive with the world we live inside. As long as he has you, your wife and his brother he will grow strong along with his compassion. Cheers to insight beyond ones upbringing!!! Well done, my friend.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Such wise words, 1G4AW, ” the world does not know how to react to the tenderhearted– they are not ready for you hence, they slowly break you down to the point where you want to disappear.”
      I hope I am finally ready for my tenderhearted son, so that I will build him up rather than break him down. I believe you are right that he will grow strong along with his compassion. He will also cultivate more compassion in me which is one of the reasons God probably sent him here in the first place.
      I am pleasantly surprised by how many of my blog friends were sensitive children. Maybe that is what makes a good blogger. 🙂 {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  4. utesmile says:

    Well done for your thinking and …your wife. I am always close to tears as I feel I am sometimes too emotional. Nothing wrong with it. Your son surely has reasons for not wanting to go anymore, who knows he might take it up later again. Love your honesty and your thinking.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Ute. I knew you were a sensitive child/adult. Most joybringers are. I agree that there is nothing wrong with expressing emotions, especially for boys/men.
      I figured out that my son was intimidated by the advanced class I was taking him to, so now he has agreed to go to the kids class again. I don’t think I would have found this out if I just forced him to get out of the car. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  5. Tracy says:

    I was a sensitive child and so is my son though he is a young man now. I tortured myself for years thinking ‘should I help him be tougher, more macho, less attuned to others emotions, less sensitive?’ Every time I asked myself the question the answer in my heart remained the same – ‘if you try to change him he won’t be him, he’ll never be comfortable in his own skin and that’s an awful thing to endure.’ Why it took me so long to grasp that the world doesn’t need more Neanderthals I’ll never know. I suspect part of it was the maternal need to protect him and ensure he was geared up to protect himself as he grew older. He’s a sensitive young man now and good grace, wit and humour serve him well. He’ll never be one of those alpha-male types and I firmly believe that’s a good thing because there are plenty of those in the world but truly compassionate men are still a rare gift.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I was just commenting on how your son is a true peacemaker on the Auto Peace post, Tracy. I suspected that he was a highly sensitive boy while reading your comment about using headphones to solve road rage. You are such a wonderful mother. I love how you let your heart guide you, even when you feared for your sons safety.
      Yes, truly compassionate men are a rare gift, but I am living proof that men can become more compassionate with daily practice. I hope I can do as good a job raising my son as you did with yours, my dear friend. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  6. rarasaur says:

    *hugs* You have the right to learn through mistakes as often as Jett does.

    I, too, was the ultra-sensitive child. I quit my cooking class at 7 years old because I couldn’t bear to see how hurtful the chef-teacher was to others in the class. He loved me, and was always kind to me… but I just couldn’t watch him yell at others who were trying so hard. It hurt my heart. I didn’t know the worlds to tell my parents till many years later so I was grateful that they just let me move on. It’s important to teach the “stick with it” nature, but it’s also important to trust. My guess is the hardest part of parenthood is figuring out which of those lessons is the most important each time. 🙂

    Your story touched my heart, *hugs* I’m sorry you went through it, but I’m happy you survived to learn and pass your compassion onto others.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Oh, Rara, so many times I wish I was there to give young Rara a {{{Hug}}, but I know you had plenty of angels around you to offer you support–think Wings of Desire or City of Angels. Oooh, that would be a good song for the Monthly Peace Challenge–“in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here.”

      You are living proof of my theory that sensitive children make the best bloggers. 🙂

      Your last paragraph means so much to me, Rara. Your empathy and encouragement inspire me to continue doing what I am working towards.

      Thank you for being here. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • rarasaur says:

        😀 Sensitive children ARE probably drawn to blogging/writing as adults. I think kids are so often sensitive because they see more than others… and awareness is a huge part of communication. 🙂 It’s no wonder we all see so much of each other in each other!

  7. This is an inspiring story. It is wonderful that you were able to open your heart and mind to change. So many people do not and the cycle continues. The path you have chosen will bring growth and happiness for both you and your son. You are so right that compassion is a strength!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Mishunderstood. My goal is to help other men realize that compassion is a strength. To use your term, I feel like men are often “little beach birds” who conform to an emotionally disconnected model of masculine behavior. “And the cycle continues.”
      It means a lot to me that you recognize the change that is possible. Thank you. {{{hugs}}} kozo

  8. Sunshine says:

    reading through the painful events in your life Kozo helps bring the light of understanding to those not familiar with loved ones who are suppose to love and nourish instead of destroy. it is heartbreaking but you clearly are taking control to alter destiny for the good. no more living for the dark side by repeating the evils from your past…abundant blessings to you and family. ♥ ☼sunHUGS!!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Your comment reminds me why I love Star Wars so much, Sunshine. I am working against the dark side. I am trying to bring light, but it feels like I am part of a rebel alliance facing a much larger Imperial force. Sorry, about the geek-out. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

      • Sunshine says:

        never sorrows in my book, Kozo. just assess the damage, clean up as best way possible then hit the road to great changes and forging through all obstacles-all while watching Madea shows. 😆 ha-ha!!
        ~you inspire good to happen. thanks!

  9. kaycers says:

    This is such a powerful story! If I might, I’d like to remind you to be compassionate, forgiving and loving towards yourself. Now that you recognize the pattern of behavior and wish to change it, don’t hold onto the mistakes you’ve made. You were just doing your best, but now that you are aware you can grow and shine that compassionate intent towards your son. There is a powerful cleansing technique from the Huna tribe of Hawaii called Ho’oponopono. It is about love and forgiveness. When guilt or shame arises in you have a conversation with your own inner child and say the words, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” Each time you take a little bit of the burden off your inner child’s shoulders. You WILL become a compassionate and sensitive man because you already are one. ❤
    Thank you for sharing this! Namaste, K

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love the practice of Ho’oponopono, Kaycie. When on the Big Island, I visited the City of Refuge where redemption was given. I’m sure Ho’oponopono was performed there. It sounds a lot like metta meditation. I have been practicing self-compassion. For some reason, I don’t seem to have a problem with self-compassion, perhaps too much ego. Thank you so much for this comment. It really resonates with the path I am on. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  10. Angeline M says:

    It is wonderful that you learned this lesson now, while your son is young, rather than when he is grown and it is too late to make amends. Thank you for the painful honesty in sharing this story and lesson with us.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Great point, Angeline. My son is only 6, so I feel good that I can cultivate his sensitivity for his formative years. Funny, how our children force us to look deeply in the mirror. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  11. csroth3 says:

    I could so relate to this because my getting my 6 year old son to Karate was also a big wrestling match every time. I had to give up because I was not physically strong enough to continue the wrestling match. He was powerful and quite good at Karate, but too young to appreciate it.

    Now I wish I had encouraged his older brother to continue and let the younger one start again later. Introducing something at the right time in a child’s life can make all the difference. Both my boys are sensitive but show it in different ways. The 24 year old has had a bunny rabbit for a roommate since his senior year in college.

    My husband is also highly sensitive, and I used to feel so awkward when he would cry. (My personality is a little more unshakable and I do most of my crying in private.) The perception that men shouldn’t cry is a socially inherited one that is deeply ingrained in many cultures and hard to reverse. Hopefully humanity is moving toward balance.

    God bless your awareness!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      It is so refreshing to see so many sensitive men in one family, Cheryl. You are blessed. I agree that the society puts men in a box that can cut them off from their emotions. I congratulate your sons and husband for breaking out of the box.
      Yes, my son is a bit young for the advanced Kung Fu class we moved him up to. He has decided to go back as long as we attend the kids class. {{{hugs]}}} Kozo

  12. First off …(((a big big hug))) and thank you for sharing so openly and honestly with us Kozo. I can very much identify with all you are saying. I was a very sensitive/shy/anxious child and my first born who is a boy is also the same way to this day, he is 16 now. We just ‘made’ him get his learners drivers license…. Aside from breaking into hives from crying when he was a small baby from having his Gramma visit him( long story, she just was so excited to see him and loud) his super sensitive side never surfaced until his preschool days… Oh, buckets of tears and anxiety.Lots and lots… I wish I had never forced him into things then, even going to preschool…but I did. It was my inner little scared girl that wanted to ‘make’ him not like me when I was young All I could see is what was wrong, not what made him special.After I dealt with my anxiety as an adult, I have learned to see this kid in a different light. He needs to warm up at his own speed when he is ready. It takes patience and understanding and then some. It is a challenge to parent but the rewards of watching them bloom before we squash them is worth it.
    My husband and I now know when to ‘push’ just a little and find the balance in letting him find his own way in his own time.. I am going to checkout the book your wife recommended as well. I am always on the path of learning through books, the school of life and from mistakes. Thank you Kozo… are a good and thoughtful wise man and I am thankful for knowing you through this wonderful community.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      K. You are such a wonderful mother/human. I wish all parents would follow your advice: “After I dealt with my anxiety as an adult, I have learned to see this kid in a different light.”
      I realize that I have been overcompensating my whole life for my sensitivity. Thank God I realized it before I squashed the spirit out of my son. I would hate for him to be 48 years old before realizing that he needed to reconnect with his compassion.
      Thank you for raising a sensitive man. I really believe that sensitive children, especially men, will change the way society views men and compassion. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  13. Lead Our Lives says:

    Kozo..awareness is the first step into healing. Powerful and honest post. Brene Brown’s work is enormously powerful and helpful for this and so many other situations. I am a HSP and suffered within for most of my life and didn’t understand what was wrong with me. My sensitivity was shamed and verbally beaten out of me long, long ago. I know that I, and I alone, am responsible for my healing…and offering compassion to and for my abusers. It has taken me quite a while to reach this point of peace and healing within. Forgive yourself and you will be able to forgive others as well. As you heal yourself, you heal your children. The only way out is through. Bless you on this important journey, dear soul. 😉

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      We are so connected. Your words mean so much to me. I know you speak from experience. i value the wisdom and love your words contain. I especially like “as you heal yourself, you heal your children.” I hope to meet you on the other side as a self-actualized human. Thank you so much for the guidance. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  14. Stuck Sucks says:

    Honestly I worry every day that I am not doing the right thing for my child, that I’ll harm him in some irreparable way. Also highly sensitive (like so many of your readers!), I grew up in a state of terror of doing the wrong thing because of the consequences. Now I am continuing that cycle of fear, yet also see the anger and impatience of my childhood coming out in me. As someone committed to a path of love, I often find it so difficult to love those closest to me because of how vulnerable I feel and the anger and impatience seems to be my response to the feeling of vulnerability. I so appreciate your honesty and commitment to compassion. I keep reminding myself that very, very tiny baby steps in the direction of love and compassion is okay if that’s all I can manage on any given day. Blessings to you.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Baby steps is what I keep telling myself as well, BSS. I have been doing a lot of research into neuroscience and the data seems to prove the Zen idea of one drop of clean water a day will purify a dirty bowl over time. As Carrie says above, awareness is key. And you, my friend, have awareness. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  15. goldfish says:

    You’re a good dad, Kozo. Even if you do lose your way sometimes, you’re always trying.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully there is another way to persuade him to stick with Kung Fu. (I know that’s not really the point of your post.) Your blogging is very courageous and has definitely had an impact on how I think and feel and live my life.

    Jim (Alan)

  17. NIKOtheOrb says:

    Kozo, it is men and fathers like you who will usher in an evolution of humanity, because you are showing by example and teaching your children how to be humans and to be human and humane to other humans and life. For this, there is no greater reward than watching your children grow up to be the happy, compassionate wonderful men (and possible fathers) that they will be. And you learn from your mistakes, another trait your children will follow. It is this ability that breeds wisdom, as well as, knowledge.



    • kaycers says:

      I agree totally with Niko! Well said!!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Wow, Niko. What a beautiful picture. I believe that you are right, so this is my vision. I want to raise compassionate sons who will be like stone in a pond that radiate compassion ripple to all they meet. Your vision and wisdom have always impressed me, Niko, so to have your blessing means a lot to me. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  18. cindy knoke says:

    What a courageous and introspective self examination. I am impressed!
    One of the happiest moments I remember was when I was watering on one side of a fence and my son was playing with friends on the other side and couldn’t see me. One of the boys, a younger, super bright, sensitive boy, whose dad was dying of cancer started to cry and the boys teased him.
    Matt said to him, “Here come sit by me. Crying is good for you….”
    Everyone stopped teasing him.
    I think your post was completely on the mark! I wasn’t raised with compassion either. It served as a negative role model for me, meaning I learned how not to behave.
    It sounds like you have learned the same thing. Bravo to you and kudos for this post. It will others to examine themselves~

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Your comment brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gesture. What a wonderful son. I love how your son’s actions defused the attacks. I have so much hope for the future because things are changing.
      In terms of learning “how not to behave,” my wife just told me that we need to stop saying “don’t do this.” Instead, we need to offer “why don’t you try this.” Give the positive behavior rather than constantly focus on the negative behavior. Like I said, things are changing. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  19. leazengage says:

    Wow.. teaching compassion to children – Being compassionate / teaching compassion by example has long been an important thing for me. My life was greatly enhanced from my time focusing on the meaning of “treating all people with respect and dignity.” But I admit that teaching compassion to children has also been a bit confusing to me. While I was focused on my spiritual journal my daughter was a teenager. At that time, I carefully spent time sharing my learning with her. But, although she really is a wonderful person and a great mother (she’s 34 now), in certain areas she’s not compassionate and even quite judgmental It’s been confusing to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that people will be who and how they are. Sometimes parents have less influence to “teach” than they might hope. So, please, as you do your best parenting, please remember if they do or don’t do something, don’t blame yourself. We can only do our best and that’s good. Namaste.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks for the wisdom, Lea. Yes, I need to remember that my children are not MINE. They are their own spirits who need to do what they need to do–to experience what they need to experience. I will try to remember to just inspire them and set them free. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  20. lauriesnotes says:

    I am a highly sensitive person. And my daughter. My husband has to be very patient like you. 🙂 How wonderful your son has this gift. Yes sometimes it is challenging..but this world needs more healers and artists.
    Blessings –

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, Laurie. This world needs more sensitive people. I is not surprising that many bloggers for Peace are sensitive people. I truly believe like Niko above that sensitive people are necessary for the next evolutionary step in becoming human. Thank you for your sensitivity and your compassion. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  21. Dieu says:

    Wow, Kozo, this post really touched me. I grew up and still am a really sensitive person. I learned to keep all my feelings inside to cope and used writing and art to express myself because I couldn’t say it out loud. Let me tell you, it feels worse when you bottle up all those intense feelings inside. That’s why I love sad movies, because they’re cathartic, giving me an excuse to be a cry-baby. Yes, I agree with everything you have written here.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I completely agree, Dieu, bottling emotions in is worse. I love sad films, or not necessarily sad films, but films that move me. The Breakfast Club, Magnolia, Seven Samurai, all make me cry. {{{hugs}}} to you my sensitive friend.

  22. yogaleigh says:

    Wow. You continually amaze me by your willingness to dig deep and reveal what you see. I too was a sensitive child, always being told to quit being a crybaby, etc. Some years back a therapist led me to realize I always picked Mr. Wrong –thereby avoiding marriage and children–because I feared that I’d pass along the family dysfunctions and abuses. I was past the age to have children by the time I figured I’d shifted to a place where I could do it without repeating the patterns of the past. How great that so many of you (noting the comments as well as your post) are raising your children differently. [PS: I used to be sad about the no children but then I was a substitute teacher for a few years and that led to losing interest]

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      It is amazing how long it some of these wounds take to heal. I am 48 and just learning the power of vulnerability and courage. I’m glad you were lead to substitute teaching to help you lose interest in having your own children. It can be a challenge to say the least. I’m also glad that you now pass on Light and wisdom, rather than dysfunction or abuse. So happy that us sensitive children finally have a safe space to hang out. Thank you wordpress. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  23. BroadBlogs says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience about yourself and your son. I’m so sorry for what you had to go through. You are amazingly well-adjusted after that background. I guess you have learned a lot from your experiences, and are still learning, and are a wonderful teacher for that reason.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Georgia. I’m what my therapist calls a high functioning client. Trust me, though, I’ve had my challenges. As you know, life-long learning is crucial. {{Hugs}}} Kozo

  24. 1EarthUnited says:

    Hello my friend! Life is about to come full circle, your little Buddha now has a chance to choose compassion. Really awesome parenting Kozo, lead by example and save another from the dark side of the Force. 😀 {{{Hugs 4 everyone}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Maddy. “The circuit is now complete. Now, I am the master.” Ooops, wrong line. My little Luke Skywalker is growing fast. The Force is strong with him, but so is his anger. I will do my best to make sure he does not veer into the Dark Side like his father. 🙂
      Love your comments. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  25. Geo Sans says:

    thank you
    for sharing your story
    this book title
    I’m due for another trip
    to the library

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I have seven books that I am reading simultaneously, Geo Sans. I’m not sure when I will finish, but it is a mind-expanding experience. Just took my youngest to the library for storytime. Maybe we can meet at a library for a playdate one day. {{{Hugs}} Kozo

  26. Rohan 7 Things says:

    I’m so sorry to hear the details of your abusive childhood. His sensitivity reminds you of your own and because your sensitivity was the cause of so much pain and fear (thanks to your step dad), you wish to “save” him from the same fate by toughening him up.

    But, as you know, he’s lucky enough to be growing up without an abusive figure standing over him. I guess you have the opportunity to give to your son what was not afforded to you, the ability to express his sensitivity and not have it crushed.

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed watching kids growing up, it’s that they change. I get the feeling that given time and support Jett will “toughen up” in his own way, in a secure and confident way rather than by being full of bravado and body armor.

    You have a challenge ahead of you Kozo! But it’s a good one, it’s an opportunity, and I’m sure you’ll meet it 🙂



    • Kozo Hattori says:

      How are you so wise at such a young age. When I was your age, I was full of crap. Your first paragraph hit the nail right on the head. I did want to toughen up my son to protect him from the hurt I experienced not just from my step father, but from bullies, crushes, and emotional disconnection from my mother.

      Yes, he will grow and become wholehearted in his own time and way. The great thing about being a sensitive child is that if that sensitivity is not crushed then he will be more compassionate, intuitive, and mindful than less sensitive kids. I have a feeling that you were a sensitive child. The fact that you were so sexually curious at such a young age testifies to that. Somehow, you not only kept your sensitivity in tact, but you flourished as a sensitive male. You are a role model for my son.
      {{hugs}}} Kozo

      • Rohan 7 Things says:

        Yes, I definitely was a sensitive child, and I was extremely lucky that my parents, dad in particular, noticed and nurtured that in me as it was nurtured in him by his mother.

        It seems counter-intuitive but the way we develop true security and confidence in ourselves is by learning to be okay with our emotions and our weaknesses and limitations.

        Wishing you guys all the best! It’s not easy, but it’s worth it to be patient and kind, and none of us every get it right all of the time. We all lose our heads sometimes 🙂



  27. KM Huber says:

    As I have said many times, I so admire your honesty and integrity. I promise you your sons are very fortunate to have you for a father. A bit late in commenting on this post but I just had to add my love to all the rest.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Karen. I feel like i am lucky to have my sons. I can’t think of a better way to think about a relationship than mutual appreciation. I know that is how we feel about each other, my friend. Isn’t it wonderful. {{{hugs}}} kozo

  28. D. S. Walker says:

    I believe we all have to continue growing emotionally into better human beings in this life and you do. Mahalo for sharing your story and for seeing your son through eyes of love. God knows we made too mistakes to count raising our first child, our most sensitive one. I wrote a post titled “Major Guilt and Buckets of Tears” that you can find on my blog under Autism if you want to read it. I’m not posting the link because I am not searching for readers rather I want you to know that you are not alone in struggling to be the best parent. I agree with everyone in that your sons are lucky to have you. I hate that you went through everything that you went through, but I am grateful that you share and that you work so hard to be a better parent than the example you had growing up.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      The fact that all that guilt and all those tears brought you to the realization to “cherish now” gives meaning to your story, in my eyes. You are obviously a very compassionate and understanding mother. Thank you for sharing this wonderful wisdom with me. {{{Hugs}}} kozo

  29. […] How to wring compassion out of your child ( […]

  30. […] How to wring compassion out of your child ( […]

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