Japanese parents start from different cultural assumptions than U.S. parents.

Japanese Parenting Styles

by Scott Thompson

Japanese parents tend to approach problems much differently than U.S. parents, including their approach to conflict resolution, discipline and other aspects of child-rearing. The terms and categories used by Japanese researchers to describe different parenting styles are also different than those used by U.S. researchers.

1. Independence

In circumstances where U.S. parents would be likely to jump in and try to resolve a conflict between two kids, Japanese parents tend to keep their distance and let the children work it out for themselves. According to author Christine Gross-Loh in an interview with ABC News, Japanese kids often show much more independence and self-sufficiency than U.S. children because of this emphasis on expecting them to solve their own problems. Japanese parents also expect children to do more chores around the house at a younger age, according to the ABC News report.

2. Discipline

The Japanese word for discipline is "shitsuke," which can also refer to good manners or to planting straight lines of seeds in gardening or farming. According to Nobuko Uchida of the University of Tsukuba, many Japanese parents prefer to teach their children "shitsuke" by doing most daily activities with them such as preparing food while having a conversation together. Children are expected to learn how to behave in different circumstances by imitating how their parents act rather than through correction or criticism.

3. Nest-building and Feeling

U.S. child development researchers usually focus on the extent to which parents are authoritarian or permissive in their approach to child-rearing, but a 2008 survey by the Hakuhodo Baby and Family Business Project came up with completely different categories to describe Japanese parenting styles. Some parents were described as parenting with a "nest-building and feeling" style, emphasizing the careful preparation of nutritious meals from fresh ingredients and dressing the children in the most fashionable clothes available.

4. Investing, Rational Parenting

The Hakuhodo Baby and Family Business Project described the other typical style of Japanese parenting as the "investing, rational" style. These parents were not so concerned about either food or clothing, but were very focused on gathering information about parenting and childhood from every available source. "Investing, rational" parents were also interested in signing their children up to participate in classes and other activities. The Hakuhodo Baby and Family Business Project found that the "investing, rational" style was more common among older and higher-income parents while the "nest-building and feeling" style was more typical of younger and less-affluent parents.

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