Japan, like every culture, has a unique way of dealing with kiddos and little ones. Babies sleep with their parents (and other siblings) till they are six or seven, sometimes longer. Babies are carried everywhere, sleep whenever, and eat whenever. Kids are disciplined more by their schools than by their parents.
As they say in cross-cultural training: “Its not wrong, its just different.”
There are some parts of the child-rearing practices of the Japanese culture that I think are harmful (for instance, in general, parents don’t have much authority in their children’s lives), and parts that I’ve come to see as just normal for Japanese life. They think its insane that a baby has his or her own room and often muse to me, “How do Americans get their kids to fall asleep without laying with them?”
I think my motherhood has been unknowingly shaped by living in this new culture, separated from the books, clubs, talks, and meetings of American Christian culture. I certainly miss many aspects of this, but one thing I am truly grateful for is that I feel I’ve been given a clean slate, a fresh opporutnity to figure out what truly matters to me as a mother, apart from the influence of everyone else. When I think of this, I smile and remember that my Jesus knows me SO WELL. I am so often motivated by guilt, by the desire to please, by not wanting to rock the boat. In my first year of motherhood, I was bombarded by ideas and opinions across the spectrum, and my clogged and overloaded heart just couldn’t take it. I was always wondering if I was ruining Jones for life, while simultaneously feeling the guilt of the repercussions he would experience at age 20 from whatever was ailing me at the moment.
I forget that so much of that has changed. I have been given so much freedom — moving to Japan has provided my savior with a forum with which to do some MAJOR reconstructing, showing me how little of that blessed freedom I experience.
This shines a little light on my last post. I’m still wondering, I don’t want to swing too far in one direction — and I think I would really like to spend a day praying about convictions for my mothering.