Tenderness was not his native tongue

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My brother John, bless his heart, went to my Dad and asked, “Dad, how did you make it through all those experiences…?”

My dad said, “You just do what you have to do.”

I have 6 brothers and a sister. Most of my brothers, at some point, tried to have The Talk with my Dad. It never got any deeper or more tender than what John heard. Sometimes it got really angry.

My Dad was a lawyer. Tenderness is not a language he ever learned. I loved his laugh. I loved his competence. I loved that even though by day he was a DC lawyer, on the every-other-weekends with him we’d see him with shirt untucked, a beer belly, and often a butt crack as he worked to fix the boats (which seemed to break down often).

To this day when I hear the expression “man up” I think of my Dad, emotions suppressed by the parenting he got and supported by bourbon and ginger ale (and Budweiser).

This quote about Tenderness being a “native tongue” stood out for me this morning because I am trying on the identity of: “I am bilingual.” What do bilingual people DO? Well, they read and speak in different languages! While I am far from being fluent in Spanish, I did a song for Adira the other day in Spanish, that I made up entirely myself.

Doesn’t that make me bilingual?

But what about the 5 Love Languages?

Turns out “I am multilingual.” I speak many different languages, including ones like Tenderness that my Dad did not speak.

And with all languages, there’s poetry, too. I want my kids and my kin to hear and feel the poetry that is in Tenderness, from me to We, shared in We-Space. Join me, won’t you?



Be still my heart…lawyer mentality type interactions, tenderness is Babel / confusion, a language not spoken or understood; Five Love Languages bk…my kind of language​:+1:t3:. Thank you.


You come from a big family, Rick. I’m the oldest of 5.

My dad immigrated from Communist China back in the 50s, my mom in the 60s. Both were very poor. My dad only made it to high school but didn’t get to finish. Life was very hard for each of my parents. My dad developed unforgiveness and bitterness towards all this and taught us kids, who were born and raised in the U.S. to be tough-minded, suck it up.

Kindness and tenderness definitely weren’t things I got growing up nor most of my life. I didn’t realize how harsh I was. When I see people complaining about this and that here in the U.S., I get angered because I think of being a Chinese female in a traditional Chinese family, how it’s so unfair how females/daughters are treated compared to sons. It wasn’t easy growing up as the oldest and a female.

Though my dad had 3 sons and a daughter following me, he raised me to be really tough and like he would have raised a son. I’m tougher than my brothers - well, not really but I thought so for most of my life until recently. I was raised you do what you need to and just shut up, don’t complain. That’s how it is and you just suck it up.

I’ve found my husband and own children respond much better when I’m tender, kind, compassionate. I think my dad was wrong. And, now I’m learning to integrate kindness, compassion, tenderness, gentleness into my life. It’s so much nicer. Undoing all the other stuff, or at least a major part of it, well, will take a bit of work.

Yes, we need to be tough sometimes, but not all the time.


Slave. Serf. Vassal. Survivor.

It’s in our DNA. Our ancestors survived through some incredibly, impossibly hard times.

There’s wisdom in how to survive such horror and gross unfairness and authoritarianism and unsafety.

Suck it up. Keep your mouth shut. Work until you drop, then get the fuck back up.

The conversations were having here are, to me, the blessing offered by people who risked so much to give us privilege. The privilege of not being eaten by lions, or having our children carried off by jackals. Our “good life” is uneven, even during one lifetime for one person, and even more uneven when viewed globally.

There are women today who can be stoned for showing their face in public, even accidentally. I cry for that, and it isn’t specifically where I can make a difference.

What I dream of is people like you, @dorisv, who were the product of different cultures, and parents who were survivors, exploring and figuring out wisdom for a different Age.

Tenderness. Kindness. Compassion.

Your Dad wasn’t “wrong” in my mind for the culture and position within it that he experienced. But in a place where Thriving JUST MIGHT BE POSSIBLE for you and your kids and husband…

Yeah, his wisdom doesn’t apply well. It makes life HARDER than necessary. It tries to “train and prepare” us for a world that was, not the one we’re at the cusp of here and now.

We need more nimbleness, exploration, and yes, emotional presence. Dissociation serves the slave, not the Free Being.

I bow in deep respect for those who survived so I could, so I could bring my own children into this world, that there’s a real chance of bringing Kindness and Love – embodying it, living from it.

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You have such great insights and can write our your thoughts in a very deep, meaningful way and I am truly grateful for that, Rick.

Yes, my dad is very disassociated with his thoughts and feelings. All of my siblings, our spouses, our children are extremely frustrated with this because it impacts all of us. And he chooses to be very set in his ways, not wanting to learn, grow, thrive, and have a better life (as we see it). My mom, on the other hand, has evolved, and can see how she brought us up was what she thought best at the time, but now, looking back, she regrets not knowing these things she now knows and raising us better.

I was angry at my mom for a long time, until I realized both my parents (as do most parents) did the best with what they thought was the best for their children. And yes, we are the product of considerably better than what they grew up. When I was born, Communist China had the 1 child policy. Had I been born in China, I would have been an only child or been given away or died. But, I’ve had the privilege of being born in the U.S., having 3 brothers, a sister, never going hungry, being able to speak my mind without fear of death to myself or my family. I have the privilege of not being indoctrinated by a Communistic regime.

I want for so much for my dad to learn, grown and thrive well, but his own mindset is a deathtrap. I can’t force him to my way of thinking and I honestly don’t know how to deal with this. I’m learning how to see my emotions and embrace them no matter what they are, and then deal with them in a healthy way because I was never taught how to do this and it seems it’s someone in my familial DNA to have disassociation with my emotions.

Tenderness, gentleness is something I am working on, but I have to recognize when I’m being harsh, judgmental (one needs to judge in certain situations but not everything and in a mean manner), critical, impatient, etc. I can change and I do notice over the past few years as I’ve been actively working on changing, the more I change, the more “the world”, “my world,” changes around me.

My dad is the toughest nut I know and he’s a hard nut to crack. My mom, siblings, spouses, our children, most people I know, have been able to evolve to a better place (but then, better is how I see it and may not necessarily be better from someone else’s perspective). So what I see now is to have tenderness towards my father’s inability to see he that he doesn’t see and just accept him for this, even though I don’t like it.

For my family and I, we can deal with the idiosyncrasies until they might bring danger or harm to himself, which he has done these past few years. It’s resulted in a lot of us cleaning up and dealing with the messes he has created. Car accidents, traffic tickets, hospitalizations, paramedics, fire department, the police, lots of medical issues. Each of our families has had to pitch in to help him A LOT, and his ways are really draining all of us to exhaustion. He’s just one person and we all have families. He’ll be 92 in less than 2 weeks.

How can we not help our father? I am very challenged to be tender towards him because he either is lashing out in anger and/or nonsense (though legally he is considered lucid) or saying he’ll comply or agree when he really doesn’t (if he can physically hear what you’re saying). It is like dealing with a 5 yrs old’s emotional immaturity and a person that chooses to live in his own fantasy world without regard to how it may harm someone else (i.e., he’s a great driver - the accidents even totaling his car, the near misses, running lights, disregarding traffic laws, traffic violations - everyone is in the wrong, but not him). He can potentially kill someone accidentally because he is a really bad driver, very slow reflexes.

I’m sorry. I’m sort of going in a downward spiral and I need to regroup. Tap, tap, tap. I can’t change a person. I can’t change for a person. And I have to choose to not let this frustrate me.

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It is a challenge to accept a person and their limitations, while also seeking to set healthy boundaries for the We-Space.

No, a 92-year-old with that kind of history should not drive. I’ll say it. I believe in our lifetime we will get to a place where such dangerous drivers to themselves and others will have their license revoked because, well, we won’t be revoking their ability to get places – a car 10x as safe as a driver can take them there and back.

I watch as some people of any age drive in dangerous ways, and I know that my asking and many others will evolve into solutions that allow travel but not allow recklessness. Yeah, it will be a balance, and we may overcorrect. That’s a risk, too.

Emotional Freedom for All doesn’t mean behavioral freedom for all. Agreements matter, including the agreement (not always upheld) that drivers should be sane, sober, and safe. (cough) How do we help families cope with declines in competency? It will matter to all of us eventually, and the current aging population is going to test things.

Acceptance of someone’s limits. Boundaries where those limits impact other’s safety. Boundaries… are hard. We’re not very good at them as a culture, especially parts of the culture which are in living memory excruciatingly patriarchal.

I completely agree with you on the driving. Since this pandemic I’ve driven much less. However, being here in Arizona, there has been more freedom than in states surrounding us and so people have flocked from those states to ours and it’s greatly been impacting our traffic. I’m a very competent driver, but how far too many people are driving is just plain unsafe and scary - WAYYYY fast (and I am a fast driver, but still within the acceptable lawful guidelines), reckless, or way too slow, or thinking they are the only people on the road.

My father is one of those with very poor reaction times, chooses to make up his own rules for traffic (stop at stop signs and lights if you want, drive whatever speed you want, move into lanes whenever you want without signaling or signaling too far in advanced - like a mile ahead, turn from the wrong lanes - like turning right from a left hand land or left in a right hand lane or going straight in a turn lane).

We get a lot of “snowbirds” that come to Arizona for our warmer climates in the winter and at these times in the cooler months here, this really wreaks havoc on traffic. You’re going slightly above the speed limit (50 mph in a 45 mph zone) and some car is going 25-30 mph just moseying along, not signaling before changing lanes - then you have to swerve or slam on your brakes or do something to avoid not only an accident with them, but traffic around you.

My kids are good and cautious drivers and probably when I taught them, we go over all these bad things people do in real life and they take driving seriously. My son will refuse to drive if he doesn’t feel like he can (he’s 17).

My father is minimally insured. He doesn’t want to spend extra money on car insurance to be properly insured. He is convinced in his mind he is never at fault and that it’s always someone else’s problem. And, he’s totally convinced that he will and never has been in an accident because he’s been driving for 60-70 years and nothing has ever happened (that’s actually untrue - because I have dealt with and handled his accidents and traffic violations, etc and my siblings and I have helped him replace his vehicles).

My dad is convinced he is invincible and says to my siblings and I, our spouses that we’re all living in fear and we need to stop being afraid. Well, the living in fear of him driving is correct and of other drives like him, yes, we’re fearful. That’s why we all have very high limits on our insurance plans for drivers like my father and uninsured motorists.

I wish our Arizona would make drivers let’s say about 75 yrs old retake the written driving test, sight/peripheral test, hearing test, and actual driving test with parking at least every 3-5 years. My dad is super hard of hearing and whenever we talk to him we have to be shouting.

Yes, we will all grow old one day, God willing, and I hope when I’m actually not a safe driver on the road due to my physical limitations, that I will find alternative ways for transportation and I can do those. My father has 10 adults at his disposal to help take him wherever he needs without complaining and happy to do it. But he’s unhappy with that.

How many senior citizens his age say they have that many people that care about them and can willingly help them? I am all for freedoms and I fight to protect our freedoms, but when they start to potentially harm or kill someone, I begin to think twice. My dad is sure that he will never harm anyone or kill anyone in a car. None of us driving can actually say that. We just drive the best we can, be insured, pray there are never situations that would cause us to accidentally be in an accident and harm someone else.

I don’t drive fearfully, but I do drive alert, aware, cautiously, and really look to avoid hazardous situations. A wise person sees danger and avoids it if all possible (a Proverb in the Bible). A foolish person sees danger and runs towards this (not talking about police officers or emergency response people here). I see my dad as a foolish person and those like him as fools as well.

We are on the road with a bunch of fools and I do my best to avoid them when I spot them, and pray God’s protection on all of us.

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