Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Art of Discipline

Now according to those in the know (Though how they know is a different story), there are 4 parents styles that have somewhat different approaches to discipline.

There four rather broad categories for parenting, Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful. The short versions of them are the Balanced ones, the "I say jump, you say how high" ones, the "I'm gonna be your best friend" ones, and finally "We have kids?" ones. Now all parents are a mixture of the styles based off of where they come from and their own parents' approach to raising them.

For Beloved and I, this becomes rather readily apparent when it comes to the raising of the boys. Japanese mothers are, with good reason, rather well known for being tough. If there's a word for their style, it's Authoritarian. This isn't a BAD thing, mind you. While Beloved places very, very high demands on the boys, she also is incredibly supportive of them as well. That said, Japan places a premium on group membership. Schools in Japan are geared to producing members of the group, not individuals. Again, this isn't so much a bad thing, there's a lot to be said for it. While being outside the group can be rough, being inside means you have someone to take care of you when you need it, even if you didn't (I.e. we just got a load of veggies from the neighbors again. We're part of the group and they insist that as the elders in said group, it's their duty to make sure a young family like ours is well supplied).

I tend to wax between Authoritative and Authoritarian, but with a push to make both Makoto and Hikaru independent. I LIKE certain aspects of the Japanese system, yes, but in my heart... I'm still American and still push both boys into trying to rely more on themselves than others and to see themselves as a unique person instead of just another member. Generally I tend to follow a philosophy of "Stick to your guns" (I.e. if you make an issue of something, you must follow through) and "Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, or in other words, pick your battles.

So in a very When East Meets West bit, Beloved and I will clash over just how serious something is, and what we should do about it. Generally, it's usually my call. The four classic fears of Japan being Fire, Thunder, Earthquakes, and Father means Beloved is more than willing to hand things off to me more. Also, teaching junior high has given me, shall we say, a well used teacher voice that gets the boys attention where they tend to try and ignore Mommy for the most part.

But from time to time we do have a cultural loggerheads moment about if we REALLY need to talk with a boy because of failure to wash his hands when he returned home or if it is his choice, or perhaps there will be a discussion about just when a son is expected to start doing chores and the proper payment for thus. Some of said discussions become rather loud, but eventually peace will be restored in the house.

All that said, there was nothing at all confusing about the situation we found ourselves in last Friday. 

Now Tuesday was Beloved's birthday and due to a wide range of issues, we didn't get a chance to celebrate it. My brilliant suggestion was, we have a bit of time on Friday that lacks classes for me to teach and nothing on Saturday, let us go enjoy our favorite Italian restaurant, Beloved liked the idea.

I was a bit surprised then to return home on Friday, ready to just dump my bag and grab family to find Beloved fixing dinner. Why was she making food on the night we were to go out? Well, because Makoto had refused to eat his breakfast, and then didn't help his classmates during the school's cleaning time (Japanese students clean their schools), and finally decided to pull down his pants and flash his female classmates for some reason.

Oh, and he drew on the wall with a crayon.

While there is many, many different parenting styles and of course cultures may have different takes on things, this was pretty slammed dunked. Makoto was not going to be rewarded with pizza, pasta, and heavenly bread and thus we last our night out. But that was life as a parent.

He also lost paper crafts for a week and a weekend of no cartoons just to make sure he got the point, which he did as a lecture from me asking him how he thought everyone felt for missing out on the good food and what he classmates thought finally got through to him.

Some times things are not a massive culture crash...

Or so I thought until in the morning when Beloved asked me why I turned off the cartoons for the weekend...    

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