I wonder which is more difficult--for children to be independent of their parents or for parents to distance themselves from their kids. The following tanka by Kozue Imamura ran in The Asahi Shimbun tanka column in February: “You don’t know how much determination it took for me to say, “Do as you like.’ ” Kazuhiro Nagata, who selected it, said: “The poem is scary. It shows how much resolve the mother put in a single phrase.”
Although I can only speculate, perhaps there are times for mothers to brace themselves once again as if to cut the umbilical cord that once tied their children to them. I remember reading the following comment by writer Kazue Morisaki: “Motherhood is about letting go (of a child) with the same strength as holding it.” Apparently, those who are only intent on holding onto their children are not good mothers.
Be that as it may, the trend these days seems to be for children to remain dependent on their parents for even longer.
A survey of guardians of university students by Benesse Educational Research and Development Center revealed that about 40 percent of parents of university seniors were helping them with job hunting activities. According to the center, mothers are more eager than fathers to help their children land jobs, and often focus on gathering information on the Internet and from magazines.
The results of the survey show an image of highly educated mothers who gather information and take part in determining their children’s future, not only in terms of career, but also in deciding which university entrance examinations to take, according to the center. It depends on the mother or her child whether to appreciate the practice as maternal love or think of it as interference that impedes the child’s independence.
A few years ago, the term “helicopter parents” was coined in the United States. It is a pejorative expression that refers to parents who hover over their children like helicopters, pay close attention to them and immediately come to help them or tell them what to do. “Overparenting” also applies to many parents of Japanese university students.
I hear it is not uncommon for parents of university students to accompany them for course registration or notify the school of their absence from class. If so, there also must be quite a few workers who still have their umbilical cords attached. We also need to be careful about how to reproach them.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 19
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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