Japanese Mothering

In Japan, mothers view children as an extension of themselves. They spend almost all their time with their child. Japanese mothers traditionally co-sleep, co-bathe, and keep the child in close physical proximity at all times. Compared to American mothers, Japanese mothers seem very permissive with their babies and young children. In Japan, mothers try to remove all stress from the child’s world. In Japan the word amae is often used to describe the close mother-child bond. Amae is not translatable in English, but is most closely defined as interdependence between the child and mother.

This interdependence is so valued in Japan that they view all other relationships as an extension of amae. Fathers in Japanese culture traditionally work more than their U.S. counterparts. Therefore, mothers in Japan are usually the disciplinarian as well. However, mothers in Japan rarely show anger to their children, instead they try to encourage the child to choose a more desirable behavior. They often do this by showing how the child’s behavior affects others. In Japan there is a strong cultural pressure to conform. The Japanese mother usually places a high value on a quiet infant and young child. This may be why the close proximity is so valued. When the child reaches the age of reason, usually sometime after they turn five, there is substantially more rules and regulations placed on the child.

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