Things I’ve heard often: My child could never do well!

When I was a newcomer in Japan, I was in for a big shock.  I was used to having parents constantly talk about how well their children behaved or how well they were doing in school.  But no, they don’t do that in Japan.  That would be bragging.  That would be rude.

Japan is a society where individuality is frowned upon.  Personal achievement is discouraged, and children should just be the same as everyone else.  It seems that for both children and adults, those in authority (parents and bosses) tend to emphasize the faults so much, that it always sounds like everyone is incredibly negative.  In business, bosses often berate and insult employees as a form of encouragement.  What is this, reverse psychology?  Tell them they’re crap so they’ll do better?  And then they have them work so many hours, although not very efficiently or hard.  Not allowed to go home before the boss.

As for children, I’ve heard parents speak about their kids in the most negative ways.  Sure, some parents are quite positive, and they will talk about how well their children are doing, but I usually hear the negative far more.  One example is the kind of mother who expresses surprise whenever their child does something good.  Today was just one example.  One of the children I teach does quite well in class, although he is sometimes very stubborn and doesn’t listen.  However, he did an English test 2 weeks ago in which he passed with flying colours.  He had a perfect score.  Not one mistake.  When he and his mother were shown his test and result, she was shocked.  She couldn’t believe it.  It was as if something impossible happened.  She never said anything positive about her son, not even telling him he did a great job.  What did she do?  She insisted that he made mistakes.  She kept asking us what he did wrong.  There must be mistakes!  Her son cannot get 100% on a test!  It’s impossible!

Give me a break! Your son did well.  Get over it.  No need to make a scene about it and display utter disbelief and shock.  Kids in Japan these days are pushed so hard to perform well in school, going to cram school every day after school, having no time for themselves or to just be a kid.  It’s no wonder the suicide rate is so high in Japan.  Everyone is pushed so hard to perform well that many are pushed beyond the breaking point.  They snap.

No way will that happen to my child.  I will tell her she did well when she does well.  No mock disbelief.  No insulting, even though she’s done well.  I’m not going to raise my child to have an inferiority complex.  I will raise my child to believe in herself and have confidence.  Maybe it’s just in my culture to think this way.



Filed under Culture, Daily Life

9 responses to “Things I’ve heard often: My child could never do well!

  1. It must be not only a Japanese thing. It’s an Asian thing. You hear it quite often in other parts of Asia too.

  2. aileen

    Not in “my daughter’s Asia”. I raised my daughter to be a confident, but humble, young lady…well-appreciated and loved. Sadly, the “why-is-your-exam-not-perfect-Asian-thingy” was true for me when I was younger. =(

  3. Poor kid. I don’t get the “I have to put my kid down in front of others to seem modest” thing either. There’s a fine line between being modest and putting your kid down. It’s good for little Tomoe that she won’t have that. She’ll do all the better for it.

  4. I agree with you. I don’t say negative comment.

  5. Pingback: 2012 in Review | Jay Dee in Japan

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