Tag Archives: children

Life in Japan: Raising a Kid

Here’s my weekly Life in Japan question. This time, what’s like raising a family in Japan as a foreigner? Especially with the fact that my daughter is mixed race (or haafu).

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

It’s Monday again, and I’m in the middle of Golden Week, a major week-long holiday in Japan.  However, I have work only today, and a couple four day holidays. But Monday also means it’s time for another question about Japan.  It’s S. R.  Carrillo’s question again.

What’s it like to have raised a family there, as a foreigner?

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As you can see from the picture, it’s weird.  Or maybe that’s just my daughter.  There are certainly some challenges raising a kid in Japan while I’m a foreigner.  I can’t speak for families whose parents are both foreigners, though.  They’d have a totally different experience.  However, since my wife is Japanese, I get to experience the Japanese side of life, as well.

Basically, I get to spend some time with my wife’s family and see what it’s like in a Japanese family. We mostly go during the New Year period, so…

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Bullying in Japan

Bullying is something I’ve had to deal with when I was in junior high school. However, it’s nothing like the bullying experienced by some kids in Japan.

Recently, there was a boy who was bullied into practicing suicide. He was forced to rehearse many times by his bullies until he finally did commit suicide.

It seems like there are gangs of bullies in schools who target the weak and thrive on power. Teachers are powerless to stop it because of how monster parents threaten teachers if they ever discipline students. Teachers used to be respected, but now the very parents who trust them to teach their children weaken their position.

I don’t tolerate bullying in my classroom. But I really dislike parents whose inability to parent allow their kids to do what they want. They refuse to discipline, so their children don’t fear it. On the other hand, there are kids who are disciplined too much, so they need a way to get their frustrations out. A balance is needed.

The worst thing is that parents turn a blind eye to bullying that goes on in schools and think it’s just kids being kids. They think it’s nothing to worry about. Believe me, it is a serious problem!

If you have kids who are bullying or being bullied, find out what’s happening. You may be shocked. It needs to be stopped.

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Kids say the craziest things

I teach English in Japan, and many of my students are children. They can be a lot of fun, or they can be very frustrating at times. But they can also say some of the funniest things in English. Here is a sample:

“I am garbage!” was randomly said by a boy.

When being told about “Be quiet, please,” a girl said “Shut up, please.”

One kid has a fascination with bodily functions. We were talking about ice cream flavours he liked, and he said “I like doodoo ice cream.”

When spelling out 6, many kids will say “s-e-x.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the knew what they were saying.

One girl keeps accidentally saying “block scissors paper.”

I was drawing a family tree on the board to talk about family members, when a girl drew a heart between my sister and I, then said “Jay Dee loves sister? Love love!”

When I ask if the kids can guess my age, many say 25-30, but one said 50. I’m 35, by the way. Most think I’m younger than I am.

And one more. A kid proudly exclaimed to me, “I am Japan!” The other kids burst out laughing.

If you teach kids, what are some of the funniest things they’ve said to you?

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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.

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A third kind of public washroom

I was in Minatomirai station today, and as I was going up to Queen’s Square, I noticed that there was an extra public washroom between the men’s and women’s washrooms.  It wasn’t a family washroom, which I’ve seen many times.  It was a children’s washroom!  From the escalator, I could see that there were low sinks for young children, as well as small urinals for small boys.  I assume there were toilet stalls in the area that I couldn’t see.  The walls were covered in very colourful tiles.  Have you ever seen a children’s public washroom before?

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Filed under Japan, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, Yokohama