The Role of the Japanese Mother

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The focus of the mother is her home and family, with particular attention to the rearing of children.  While most Japanese believe that a woman's place is in the home and that work should not interfere with the primary responsibilities to children and husband, women nevertheless make up almost 40 percent of the labor force.  More than half of these women are married.  Many mothers with small children work only part-time so they can be home when their children are not in school.  The extra income earned by the mother is often used to meet the cost of their children's education.

Japanese mothers take the responsibility of their child's education and upbringing very seriously.  They seldom confront their preschool children because they they want to foster an intimate, dependent relationship.  The purpose of this approach is to get the child to obey willingly with the mother's wishes and to shape the child's behavior over a long period of time.  The close nature of the mother-child relationship and the strong parental commitment help to provide a strong foundation for the child's entry into elementary school.

Mothers are involved directly in with the child's school.  Each day a notebook is sent back and forth between mother and teacher remarking on the child's mood, behavior, health, and activities both in school and at home.  Mothers attend PTA meetings usually twice a month and are involved with school committee's working on special projects such as gardening and hot lunch preparation.   School is a very stressful and competitive process so the Japanese mother concentrates all her efforts on getting her children through so they can get accepted into the appropriate universities.

Other than her child's education, the mother takes on the role of wife.  Typically, the wife moves in with the husband and mother- in-law and is expected to take over the finances when the time comes.  The wife controls the money that comes into the house and the husband is given an allowance.   The social lives of the couple do not overlap.  The wife spends time with social networks and other mothers of her children's friends and the husband spends his time during the day at work and socializes with colleagues at night.  Therefore the husband and wife live very separate lives.

A major problem with this lifestyle was that the children barely knew their father and he became a nuisance when he was home on Sundays.  Also after retirement, the husband was now home all day and got in the way of the wife which led to many older woman getting divorces.

As time progresses so does the role of mother/wife.  Woman now have many more opportunities in the workplace therefore family life has changed.  The husband tries to take a more parental role in the child's education and spend more time with the family.  Although these changes are occurring, the mother's role in her child's education is still of utmost importance.