Our guest this week is Christian Sakamoto of Ocean Shores, WA, a financial planner and father to three, including a daughter with infantile spasms.
Christian and his wife, Suzy, have been married for seven years and are the proud parents of three: Miles (1), Jude (3) and Rosalie (4), who was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms, a form of Epilepsy.
We’ll learn about Christian’s upbringing, the important role his stepfather and spirituality have played as well as what lead to his career as a financial planner with Mika Shilanski & Associates and how this young family is embracing life’s challenges head on. All on today’s SFN Dad to Dad Podcast.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/christiansakamoto/
NAPA Center in Long Beach – https://napacenter.org
Seattle Children’s Hospital – https://www.seattlechildrens.org
Mary Bridge Hospital – https://www.marybridge.org/
Ronald McDonald House – https://rmhcsc.org/longbeach
Please take the SFN Early Intervention Parent Survey and as a token gift, receive a Great Dad Coin – https://tinyurl.com/5n869y2y
Tom Couch: [00:00:00] Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at HorizonTherapeutics.com.
Christian Sakamoto: Whether you have a faith or not, whether you believe in God or not, one, be open to advice, and be humble. But two, be thankful. Be thankful for what you do have. Be thankful for being able to wake up to see your child another day. Just count your blessings.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest, Christian Sakamoto, a financial planner, and father to three, including Rosalie who was diagnosed with infantile spasms. We’ll hear Christian’s family story and how he got here today. That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello now to [00:01:00] host David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.”
Tom Couch: And now let’s hear this fascinating conversation between Christian Sakamoto and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I am thrilled to be talking today with Christian Sakamoto of Ocean Shores, Washington, financial planner with Micah Shilanski & Associates and the father of three, including a [00:02:00] daughter with infantile spasms. Christian, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, thanks, David. Really appreciate the opportunity here and looking forward to chatting.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Suzy, have been married for seven years and are the proud parents of three: Miles 1, Jude 3 and Rosalie 4, who was diagnosed with infantile spasms which is a form of epilepsy. Let’s start with some background. Where’d you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, so I grew up just outside of Seattle. It was just my mom and I for the early parts of my life. She was a single mom. She was working, I was in daycare and then eventually into the school system. She then eventually started dating somebody, met somebody and they really hit it off. And by age nine, or right before I turned nine, they got married. And that was a really neat change in my life. And [00:03:00] then shortly thereafter, I believe seven months later on my ninth birthday, he adopted me. So I call him dad since he adopted me. His name’s Scott, he adopted me. And we were just one happy family there.
And like I said, the earliest parts of my life, it was just my mom and I. But then that shift happened early enough in my life where I don’t think it had that big of an impact as my future went on. My dad taught me a lot and I’m really grateful for what he’s taught me.
And then growing up in school, we started getting more involved in church. And so that was really neat. When before we weren’t going to church, I was in sports like basketball, and I was playing the drums for the school in band and whatnot. And then eventually, what’s really neat in Washington, there’s this program called Running Start. I did Running Start and that’s a program [00:04:00] where when you are a junior and senior in high school, you can actually attend a local community college and work to your degree that way and get a head start there. And that’s what I did. So I did the Running Start program, went to the local community college. By the time I graduated high school, I had my associates of business degree.
All while this was happening, I had met what would’ve been my future spouse at church. She went to a rival high school, but we were both at the same church, a youth group there. And so Suzy, she and I were dating throughout high school and then into college. Eventually, once we were done with our degrees from the University of Washington, that’s when we had gotten married. So really a neat story there. She’s actually from Lebanon. She had moved here when she was 10 years old. She immigrated here with her family.
David Hirsch: I’d like to go back if it’s okay.
Christian Sakamoto: Sure.
David Hirsch: And I’m wondering when you were growing up if you had any siblings.
Christian Sakamoto: [00:05:00] So just me until after my parents got married and I was adopted, they started wanting to have children of their own. They couldn’t, and so they sought adoption. And they were figuring out where they wanted to adopt from. At the time China was still open and there was good communication there with the United States. So that’s the route that they went was China. What’s funny is my dad’s Japanese and that’s why my last name is changed to Sakamoto. And then when they chose to adopt from China, I found that a little funny.
David Hirsch: [laughing]
Christian Sakamoto: Yep. So then I think when, it was a longer process, probably about a year and a half, two years. And then finally I even went over to China to get my little sister, and we got her when she was nine months old and we brought her back. And that was in 2005. So we have I believe an [00:06:00] 11-year age gap there.
David Hirsch: Okay. Thanks for mentioning that. That’s exciting. And out of curiosity, did you ever meet or get to know your biological dad or not?
Christian Sakamoto: I think a couple of times when I was very young. That was about the extent of that relationship. Growing up as a younger kid and then now into my adulthood, I really haven’t had the interest to want to go back and find that relationship.
David Hirsch: So I’m curious to know what did Scott, your stepdad or your dad do for a living?
Christian Sakamoto: So he still works. He’s an IT manager for the city of Seattle and has done that for the majority of his career.
David Hirsch: Okay. And how would you characterize your relationship with Scott?
Christian Sakamoto: I’d say he’s probably my best friend. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. [laughing] There was a… he was a little bit more, I would say, a little bit more stern. And he even shared, once you turn [00:07:00] 18, I think our relationship’s gonna be a little bit different. And then it was. And so he’s a really good friend of mine now and we’re always talking and always either going duck hunting or getting some clams or just having a lot of fun.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So when you think about takeaways, about his fathering, parenting, is there something that you learned or that comes to mind perhaps, that you’ve tried to incorporate into your own parenting?
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, there’s things that I would say I learned what to do and things not to do. And I would say that anybody who adopts a child of their own that wasn’t their own, particularly for a man, I think it’s gonna be tough to build that relationship. And so that was unfortunately what had happened. There was a little bit slower pace to grow the relationship, but through time came love. And that’s what I think brought us out of that maybe us butting heads.
And then I would say [00:08:00] just his commitment to always providing, always being there, always helping others, always helping our family, but other families and other friends. That’s something I admire even to this day about him. So I’m really thankful for his leadership there.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Thanks for sharing. So I’m thinking about grandfathers, first on your dad’s side and then on your mom’s side. What, if any influence they’ve had on your life?
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely. So I’m blessed that both are still alive on both sides. On my dad’s side, Grandpa Kent, he’s still alive and he’s retired from Boeing. Still to this day, every time we go over there, just so joyful to see us and the kids. And he would always take us out or, even if it was just me and my grandma, we would go out. I remember going to the local fair. I remember going to the park, I remember going to all these different places, going to different restaurants. We were always wanting to go to different Japanese restaurants and stuff. And so [00:09:00] it was always just being welcomed there as well. Even though I was basically their adopted grandson, I always, I never felt that way which was a true blessing.
And then my mom’s dad, he’s still alive and he’s been a tremendous influence for me as well, just with him and his businesses that he’s had. And then in addition, he was really a leader and still is knowing about the faith and teaching me how to be a really good Christian and really just helping me and my spirituality and then also going back to the history of the church and all that, just teaching me a lot of stuff in the faith.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. And what a blessing it is that you’ve gotten to know your grandparents, not only as a little guy but as an adult now.
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: It’s a double blessing cuz when you think about it, what a blessing it is for them to see not only their grandson, you, but their great-grandchildren, your children. That’s amazing.
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: And it’s something that I can relate to. Three of my four grandparents [00:10:00] lived into their nineties, so they died when I was in my later thirties. And they got to meet five of their great-grandchildren, which was a pretty cool experience looking back on it.
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: So my recollection was that you went through the Running Start program as a junior and senior in high school…
Christian Sakamoto: Yes.
David Hirsch: …which led to your associate’s degree at community college. Then you eventually went to the University of Washington at Tacoma and took a degree in business and marketing.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And so I had finished a little bit early because of the Running Start program, so I was done with my degree by age 19, and then shortly thereafter I had turned 20. So both my… we weren’t married at the time, but both my wife and I had done that program and are really grateful for that and teaching other families about it, too. Making sure that they’re aware of it and how great the opportunity was. And then once I was done with my degree, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do being that young. I [00:11:00] was working on a couple family businesses with my grandpa and my mom. I also was working out at the gym and also a personal trainer at the same time, and was doing that on the side as well.
Again, not really sure what I wanted to do. I started interviewing with other firms once I realized I didn’t really want to work for the family businesses, and so I found an insurance company. I was actually with Aflac for a handful of months. Door to door sales which was a neat experience there, to say the least.
So I went from door to door sales with Aflac, and then I went to an insurance firm, Northwestern Mutual, where I wasn’t having to go knock on doors, I would just call people. So I was just doing a lot of calling there. And it was a neat experience. I was at Northwestern Mutual for about five years doing financial planning and insurance work. And during that five years, I got my CFP, Certified Financial Planner designation. And I would say after I got the designation, I [00:12:00] was just looking around seeing what else is out there.
Actually, it was probably by fate that I found this firm that I’m with right now. I was interviewing with dozens of other firms and got this random LinkedIn message from a recruiter and I talked to them and it was actually my now boss’s buddy that was interviewing. And we had the interview, we hit it off. I thought everything was going well, and I thought I was gonna get hired with the buddy’s firm. Turns out he put me in touch with Micah, who I’m with right now. He had just put so many dots together. Oh, you’re Catholic. Oh, you have a daughter with special needs. Oh, all these cool things. So he wanted me to get connected with Micah who I work with right now, Micah Shilanski. And we had just one little quick call. I shared with him my story and I didn’t think anything of it cuz I was still hoping to get hired by the other guy. [00:13:00] [laughing] And then I get a call like, I don’t know, a few weeks later saying, Hey, I wanna hire you. Sweet. Sign me up. So that’s our little short story. And that was about, that was in like September, October of 2020.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Christian Sakamoto: So I’ve been with the firm for about a year and a half now.
David Hirsch: I love that story. So I’m curious to know, when did you learn that the company was based in Anchorage, Alaska, though?
Christian Sakamoto: So these guys, they have this podcast called… this ia a little plug… The Perfect RIA, and I started listening to it once I found out that Matthew Jarvis was hiring another advisor. And I found out just through that podcast, and I was like, huh, how’s this gonna work? But then he told me, no big deal. You would just come up here a couple times a year. And hey, I’m here right now, by the way. I know you guys, the listeners, can’t see it, but I’m in the Anchorage office right now. But normally I’m in Washington. And he just said, yeah, no big deal. You just come up here a couple times a year and meet with clients then, and you can work virtually at home throughout the rest of the year. So [00:14:00] I was like, yeah, no, that, that makes sense. I’m happy to do that.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Thanks for sharing.
Christian Sakamoto: Sure.
David Hirsch: So let’s switch gears and talk about special needs, first on a personal level and then perhaps beyond. And I’m curious to know, before Rosalie’s diagnosis, did you or Suzy have any exposure to the world of special needs?
Christian Sakamoto: No, we didn’t. This was our first, and it was just this slow…It was a… it’s hard to say because with infantile spasms, for anybody that knows about it, there’s a big range of what a child can develop to be, from severe cognitive impairment to like barely holding up their head, to they’re fine, they’re going to school, they’re a functioning adult. Maybe there’s some minor things there.
So what was interesting was the [00:15:00] story of how we found out, which was when Rosalie was four months old, around that time, my wife noticed these little twitches that she had. And so she was concerned and I would just brush it off saying, no, it’s no big deal. And she got real concerned. So she just called the local nurse. Just tried to get an appointment and they brushed her off too. But one person that she did talk to said, hey, this could be something like seizures, so I’d really like you to be seen.
And we’re like, all right let’s go see your doctor. Talk to her primary care doctor. And she was great. She said, I don’t see anything. Obviously she’s not having any episodes right now, but if you’re really concerned, let’s go ahead and get you an appointment with Seattle Children’s. And so we did, and I think by age five months or six months or so, that’s when we went to see the neurology team at Seattle Children’s. Same thing. They didn’t think anything of it, but they said, hey, let’s go ahead and [00:16:00] get an EEG scheduled and just double check. And we did. And we left that place and got some local hamburgers and was having a good time thinking, hey, things are good, Rosalie’s fine. And then we get a call saying, Ooh. Yeah, we found something on the EEG that brings us to have some concern, so come back in for a 24 hour EEG and we’ll do some more studies.
Basically at that point in time was when our whole world flipped upside down just with being scared about what would happen, being scared about so many unknowns. And so of course we went to that appointment and then that’s when she was diagnosed with the infantile spasms. And from there it was me constantly asking a doctor or physician assistant or a nurse like, what’s happening? What will Rosalie become? What do we expect? Will she be able to hold herself up? Will she be able to crawl? Will she be able to walk? Will she be able to [00:17:00] talk? All those kinds of questions I just kept asking and never got the answer. They were smart because they didn’t answer it, by the way. And I just at one point was okay with not knowing how Rosalie would develop and I was just actually frustrated of asking questions and not getting a clear answer that I just stopped asking the questions.
And I think that’s when I found a lot of peace, honestly. That coupled with we also had our second child, Jude, at the time. And Jude is healthy as can be, still is. Everything’s good with Jude. It just shifted our focus a little bit from the so negative experience with Rosalie and her development as she’s getting older to, hey there’s Jude as well. Not to take away our experience with Rosalie, but there’s more joy in this world than just focusing on the negatives of someone’s disability.
Now, I would just say just because she was our first, [00:18:00] that was where our focus was so much on her and her life and not knowing if we would even have another child. So then we had Jude and eventually we had Miles and things are going well there, but with Rosalie, she is four years old. She doesn’t walk, but she crawls. She doesn’t talk, but we know what she says because we’ve been around her for so long now we know whether she’s hungry or she’s thirsty or she’s tired or she wants a hug. And we’re not sure what her future will bring. And we’re still not sure, but we’re more at peace now than what we were before.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like it’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster, not knowing at first, then learning what the diagnosis is. Not getting answers to the questions. Must have been a certain level of frustration or anxiety that goes along with that. And I’m wondering, was there some meaningful [00:19:00] advice that you got along the way that helped you put this infantile spasms in perspective or that’s allowed you to get this peace that you’re referring to?
Christian Sakamoto: I’m just putting the pieces together and seeing that life goes on. And like I had mentioned when we had Jude, the shift focused so much on the negative with Rosalie and I just through prayer as well, found that there’s more to life than just focusing on the negative and being sad about Rosalie.
And while today still has struggles, we’re gonna get through this and there’s gonna be a plan. God has the plan for us. Now, again, I don’t know what that plan is. Being that she’s still four, there’s still so much there to learn. But it was just recognizing that I don’t have control and because I don’t have control, that was scary at first, but I’m okay not having control. I’m okay giving that control to God.[00:20:00]
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a really important perspective and amazingly you’ve arrived there at a much earlier age in life than a lot of people. Some people never get there, Christian. I’m not just saying that. Some people struggle with that for a lifetime. And I think that trying to discipline yourself to worry about the things that you have control over and then let God handle the other things is a very healthy perspective.
And I’ve heard other people talk about compartmentalizing, right? Focus on what’s going on, not only what you have control over. And try not to be burdened by or overwhelmed with the things that aren’t perhaps where you might have expected them to be, and just accept them for what they are.
Christian Sakamoto: Totally.
Tom Couch: We’ll be back with more of the conversation on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast in just a few moments. But first, this quick message. Please help 21st Century Dads gather research on families raising children with special [00:21:00] needs by having them complete the Special Fathers Network Early Intervention Parents Survey. A link to the survey can be found in the show notes. As a token of our appreciation each person, mom or dad, who completes the survey, will receive a Great Dad Coin. Thank you. Now back to the conversation.
Christian Sakamoto: And I would say a lot of things are becoming more difficult now that Rosalie is getting bigger and harder to pick up and things are getting easier as well.
So we’re lucky because at one point, I haven’t shared this yet, but the different medicines that we tried for Rosalie, all the different pharmaceuticals to help her seizures, and none of them worked. Until we, as the last resort, my wife and I were researching what else is there? And we found that a keto diet, a ketogenic diet, has helped people with seizures and a few other issues and illnesses for hundreds of years. That’s what we wanted to try. We brought it up to Seattle Children’s and they were [00:22:00] like that was actually what we were gonna try here as the last resort.
So we’re like, okay, I wish we would’ve just started this to begin with, but, okay, here we are. Let’s try all the drugs first and then the natural stuff later. Anyway. Seattle Children’s is really good cuz they’re one of the few children’s neurology clinics that specialize in keto diets for kids.
I don’t think a lot of children’s hospitals know much about it, so we’re lucky that they knew a lot about it and they helped us through that. But that’s been tough, just getting the food right. Especially when she didn’t know how to chew and she had actually a swallowing problem. She wasn’t able to swallow liquids for probably two years. We had to thicken all her liquids. But that’s an example right there. Her throat has healed to where now she doesn’t need her liquids thickened. We don’t need to add those little packets to thicken them which is a true blessing.
Things have gotten more difficult as she’s gotten bigger. And then things have gotten a little bit easier cuz we [00:23:00] have been doing it for several years now. We just know more on what to do and what to expect. And she’s also improving in areas there too. So we’re excited about that.
The other thing too is her initial diagnosis was infantile spasms, but right now it’s… I actually don’t even know what they would consider it now, cuz she’s not an infant anymore. It’s more of what they describe as a myoclonic seizure where it’s not those grand mal seizures where you maybe picture somebody on the floor convulsing for minutes, foaming at the mouth. Hers are more still like a spasm where she might lose control of her limbs and even her brain might be a little bit foggy, but they don’t last much longer than a couple seconds. And I think that’s what they call that as myoclonic seizures. Again, who knows if she’ll “outgrow” those, or how that will work. We’re hoping, we’re praying that might be the case, but we’re not sure yet.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Thanks for [00:24:00] sharing. That ketogenic diet is something that’s come up in other conversations with other dads in the network. I may have shared with you the story, which sounds almost identical to yours, but it goes back like 20, almost 30 years now with a fellow by the name of Jim Abrams. And Jim’s son, Charlie, same situation, had these seizures as a young guy, lots of seizures and sounds a little bit more dramatic than what you were describing with Rosalie.
Christian Sakamoto: Sure.
David Hirsch: And none of the medications the doctors prescribed worked. And he ends up in a library, does some research, learns about some papers that were written in the 1920s about the ketogenic diet and brings it to the doctor’s attention. And they’re like, we don’t know anything about what you’re talking about cuz it’s not taught in medical school. It’s not something that pediatricians were focused on, again 20 or 30 years ago. And he starts just doing this himself. Seizures stop immediately. [00:25:00] He’s on this diet for five years, and then you’d never know…
Christian Sakamoto: Geez.
David Hirsch: …looking at Charlie as an adult today. So I’m hoping that’s your destiny.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah.
David Hirsch: You look back on this 10 or 20 years from now and say, hey, little bit of a bumpy start for Rosalie. She’s just like any other 18 or 20 year old, as far as her education and her ability to communicate and interact, you would never know.
Christian Sakamoto: I appreciate you for sharing that. That’s fascinating that he was in a library. Just found that out.
David Hirsch: Yeah. It’s a pretty fascinating story. And if you haven’t, I would suggest that maybe you go back and you listen to Jim’s interview for the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: I’m curious to know, you’ve intimated this, what impact Rosalie’s situations had on your marriage or perhaps your extended family for that matter?
Christian Sakamoto: All positive. All positive for night and day. It just brought us all together. It brought us all and all the families to be so generous with their giving and [00:26:00] their time and ability to help us during the hard times. They also are still hopeful for her to recover and be where we would want to see a “normal” child be, but we’re okay and they don’t really ask questions about that. They never really have. They never ask what’s things gonna look like for her? They just, maybe they just keep that to themselves, but they’re just really accepting of Rosalie and where she’s at right now and really just help out a lot. And that’s on the family side.
And then on our marriage side, yeah, it brought conflict, but because we were strong in our faith, I think that’s really the only thing that kept us going and really made us get through everything was not giving up on God and not giving up on our trust for Him and for His plan. Because without that, again, I don’t think we would be where we are right now and probably be having a worse time. But really thankful for [00:27:00] where we are right now and continue to have that focus. And it’s not so much, our prayers aren’t just, hey, can you help Rosalie? It’s more saying thank you for what You’ve helped us get through already.
David Hirsch: Yeah. There is an important aspect of spirituality and what comes to mind is the gratitude. Focus on what is, what you can be thankful for, and just trying to put your situation in perspective, right? So I’m thinking about supporting organizations and I’m wondering what organizations have been there for Rosalie directly or perhaps for your family overall?
Christian Sakamoto: That’s a great question. The few organizations that we’ve interacted with, obviously the hospital with Seattle Children’s and the amazing team there from the neurology to the dieticians and all those people.
And then also there’s another local hospital, Mary Bridge, that has helped out quite a bit. Helping her with PT and [00:28:00] OT and speech therapy, some of which we’re getting at Seattle Children’s as well. Rosalie also did this neat program in Long Beach, California called the NAPA Program. And this NAPA program does intensive therapy for young kiddos, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, all these other therapies that I’m forgetting the names of, where they bring the kids together for three weeks, we’ll say. And kinda have this intensive, for let’s say 5, 6, 7 hours a day helping the kids improve. And when we brought Rosalie there, she really did improve and I’m really thankful for that NAPA program. We haven’t really been too involved yet with a bunch of other… We did stay at the Ronald McDonald House when we were there, so that was a really neat organization to be part of.
David Hirsch: Yeah. It’s not lost on me that you can’t do this on your own, right?
Christian Sakamoto: Sure.
David Hirsch: And there are people [00:29:00] who are experts in the field, and while they might not have all the answers or solutions hopefully they can direct you to the right information and services. And thank God for organizations like Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, Mary Bridge Hospital, the NAPA Center on Long Beach, and for places like Ronald McDonald House which provides you with an opportunity to be really close to where your child is and not have to worry about the expense of being out of town while your child is being evaluated or receiving the services that they need.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, absolutely.
David Hirsch: Thanks for sharing. So I’m thinking about advice. And you’re a young dad, right? You’ve only been a dad for four years, and I don’t mean to be negative when I say that. I’m just in awe at the level of maturity and perspective that you have at such a young age. It’s admirable. But while you may be willing to serve as a mentor father, maybe to a guy who’s even closer to the beginning of his journey, raising a child with special needs, [00:30:00] I think of you as not by label, but the type of dad who would be more of a mentee. There’s so many other dads that you might be able to learn from…
Christian Sakamoto: Absolutely.
David Hirsch: …in the network, because we have got well over 500 dads, most of which have 10 or more years of experience raising a child, or in some cases multiple children with special needs. And I’m wondering, as a young dad, what type of advice are you looking for that would be most valuable to you?
Christian Sakamoto: Wow, that’s another great question there. The first thing I always like to turn to is be open to that advice, right? Be humble and know that I don’t have all the right answers. And so I would come to somebody as a mentee to a mentor asking the question, what are some things I should be doing in my life that I’m not doing right now, just for me to help me? Whether that’s physically, spiritually, making sure I’m doing the things I need to do at work, right? Making sure I’m being [00:31:00] a good husband first, a good leader for our family. And then asking the question, what else, what other things I should be doing for Rosalie as well, and what question I should be asking for ways to improve on how I can be a dad for her, right?
So I would just say being open to that advice and being open to saying I might not have all the things in place right now. I might not have all the right answers right now, but I’m willing to learn.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. And one of the ideas that comes to mind and I think it’s worth looking into is the Mastermind concept. We have our inaugural group of dads that have been meeting on Wednesday nights over the past year and dads of all different ages with kids as young as yours, and some that are substantially older, meeting on a weekly basis and just developing relationships. It’s a safe space where you can talk about things that you might not otherwise be able to talk about with your friends at work or neighbors or other [00:32:00] people because they don’t really understand or wouldn’t be as appropriate to be raising these issues based on where you are with those relationships.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah.
David Hirsch: And being amongst other individuals, men in this case, who are fathers raising children with special needs, it’s just a very supportive environment to be in.
Christian Sakamoto: I’ll check it out. Yeah, absolutely.
David Hirsch: Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Christian Sakamoto: I don’t think so. I would just say my theme is whether you have a faith or not, whether you believe in God or not, one, be open to advice, and be humble. But two, be thankful. Be thankful for what you do have. Be thankful for being able to wake up to see your child another day. Just count your blessings.
David Hirsch: Yep. Great advice. So let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Aaron Walker of “View from the Top” and “Iron Sharpens Iron” for making the introduction.
Christian Sakamoto: Yeah, absolutely.
David Hirsch: So if somebody wants to learn [00:33:00] more about your work or to contact you, what’s the best way to do that?
Christian Sakamoto: Best way would be just shoot me an email. It’s email@example.com.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Christian, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Christian is just one of the dads who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support. Christian, thanks again.
Christian Sakamoto: Thanks, David.
Tom Couch: And thank you for [00:34:00] listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children match up with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stCenturyDads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to Facebook.com, groups, and search “dad to dad.” Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stCenturyDads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch.
Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. [00:35:00] That’s why they work tirelessly, to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at HorizonTherapeutics.com.