Stay at home Dad Kozo Hattori tries to make parenting entertaining and meaningful using the things he knows best.
Bend It Like Yoda
My 6 year old son, Jett, was getting mobbed in soccer. Every time he got the ball, he would start thinking about what move to do or whether to shoot or pass. By the time he made a decision, a stampede of opponents and teammates would chew him up.
One Friday night we watched the original Star Wars, a movie I had seen 40+ times when I was a kid. I made sure that my sons listened carefully to Obi Wan Kenobi’s advice to “trust your feelings”—it helped that I could still recite the dialogue verbatim.
The next day on the soccer field, I told my son to use the Force—don’t think; trust your feelings, and do. I would have told him: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” But we hadn’t watched The Empire Strikes Back yet.
Jett scored 4 goals that day. I was so happy for him that I ran up and said, “You have taken your first steps into a much larger world.”
God is in your poop and pee
I wanted my sons to respect everyone and everything, so I told them that “God is everywhere.” Jett interpreted this to mean that God is in your poop and pee. At first I was taken aback, but then I realized that my judgments of good/bad, clean/dirty, pure/contaminated obstructed me from accepting reality as it is.
So now my sons see God in everything, even in the toilet. My wife recently read the boys the book Everybody Poops, which reinforced the idea that God is in everyone.
If you meditate enough, you can move things without touching them
The Last Airbender was a favorite in our Netflix cue. When my sons asked me how they can become airbenders, I simply told them to do what the character Aang does—meditate. I’ve done the research on the physical and psychological benefits of mindfulness, so I was waiting for a time to introduce meditation to them anyways.
“If I meditate for a whole month 24 hours a day, will I be able to airbend?” asked Jett.
“Maybe,” I replied.
Even though I’m not exactly sure what airbending is, I don’t consider this teaching a lie because I have seen Qigong masters emit light from their fingers or set newspaper on fire. I’ve also been thrown across the room by aikido masters without being touched. So in my mind, one can bend air, water, fire, and earth if they meditated enough.
Soft Hugs are not a luxury, but a responsibility
Having come from a touch deprived childhood, I knew that a lot of my emotional, sexual, and relationship problems stemmed from being unfamiliar with the language of touch. I wanted better for my boys, so we hug every day.
When either of my sons throws a tantrum, they know that I am going to hug them until they soften. My wife recently invented a ritual called the “love circle.” It is like a group hug with everyone’s foreheads touching that includes chanting the word love and kissing everyone on the cheek without breaking the circle.
If one of my sons hurts the other, they know that they have to not only say sorry, but also give their brother a hug.
Our goal is to normalize hugs as just something we naturally do in both good and bad times.
How to say thank you with your body
Having seen too many kids—and adults—say thank you without even looking the other person in the eyes, I wanted a way for my sons to really feel gratitude when they say thank you.
Jett and Fox both know that when I ask them “how do you say thank you?” that they need to face the person, put their hands on their hearts, and bow while they say thank you.
It might seem mechanical, but I believe in psychosomatic conditioning, or as Blaise Pascal put it: “Kneel down, move your lips in prayer, and you will believe.”
Although some of these teachings may seem unorthodox, or even blasphemous, they give my sons and I a special connection and understanding that strengthens our ability to love each other, which is what I’m really trying to teach them in the long run.