A Lecture for Parents

I gave a lecture about child rearing. Most of the audiences were young parents. The following three were the points.

– First, parents must be conscious of the goal of child rearing.
– Second, parents must encourage children to be responsible and to contribute to the society.
– Third, family meeting is recommendable, and “all matters shall be decided by public discussion.”[1]

I had a question-and-answer session after the lecture.

A mother asked me: “My son becomes delinquent, and I feel very shameful to people in the neighborhood”. What shall I do?” I answered: “You are the last friend of your boy. Even if all the people of the world stand against him, you must be proud of him. Never be an enemy of your boy. Then, look for his personal strengths. Please talk with him about his strengths. Do not try to extinct his negative aspect, but try to bring up his positive side. You are his only mother, after all.”

This question has relation to Japanese traditional mentality. Japanese make “shame” the standard of morality. Therefore, parents often discourage their children who did something “shameful” to the world. On the other hand, we have some beautiful legends in which a mother protects her child who has become a criminal. This kind of answer has power on the Japanese mentality.

Another mother asked me: “My son is diagnosed as Autism of Asperger type. He is very stubborn, and he does not hear what I say. Is Adlerian Psychology effective even against such a child?” I answered: “Every boy in the world is stubborn, and every boy does not hear what his parent says. Adlerian Psychology is still effective. Therefore, I am sure it is effective to your boy. There is a child who likes to learn rapidly, and there is a child who likes to learn slowly. Your son may like to learn slowly, but, certainly he will learn. Respect him, trust him, pay attention to his positive side, appreciate his contribution to you and to your family, and discuss all kind of things with him. I am sure he will grow up to an excellent person.”

This is a common problem in the modern world. Parents are discouraged when their child was diagnosed as a serious disease. They feel their child is special and it must be impossible, or, at least, very difficult, to bring up by usual methods. They often attribute all misbehavior of the child to the disease, and give up the discipline. We must focus on the positive side of the child, not on the negative side. Then, we can build cooperative relationship with the child, and we can begin to encourage them to the responsible and contributive life.

A director of a nursery school asked me: “Recently, children of foreigners come to nursery schools. The government encourages us to activate international exchange at school. For example, we sing foreign songs together with foreign children. How do you think about international exchange?” I answered: “At school, we should bring up Japanese people. At the same time, we should teach pupils to be tolerant of foreign children who behave according to their own ways. You should encourage them to respect foreign traditions, arts and religions. However, you should teach our own tradition and arts to your pupils. At first, you should help them to form the Japanese identity, and then, teach them to respect foreign people and foreign cultures.”

In Japan, foreign laborers are increasing rapidly. Japanese are not accustomed to getting along with foreigners. I think that we should form Japanese identity at first, and then, we should learn the tolerance. We do not need to become a foreigner, and a foreigner does not need to become a Japanese. Between different cultures, we should build a bridge for mutual understanding. On this theme, Hala Buck gave an excellent lecture at ICASSI[2]. I agree with her totally.

[1] “Oath in Five Articles” of the Emperor Meiji, 1868.
[2] Hala Buck: Cross Cultural Understanding: Increasingly a Pre-Requisite for Social Feeling in Today’s World. The 41st Annual Rudolf Dreikurs Summer Institute, Györ, Hungary, 2008.