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Parenting goes hand in hand with the development of a child. It is crucial for one to be knowledgeable of the best and most effective parenting style to raise a healthy, happy individual. Parenting styles are “the patterns of practices that parents exhibit in relation to their children”. There are different types of parenting styles; however, this paper focuses on the authoritative parenting style which is when “parents are high in demandingness and high in responsiveness, but also set clear standards for behavior and explain to their children the reasons for those standards”. Parenting styles are largely influenced by cultural beliefs in that parents adopt certain cultural customs and personal values which they have learned. These customs and values naturally fall into their parenting style whether they are aware of it, or not. It has changed the way I look at the future in how I will raise my own children. This paper better examines how Japanese American culture wed an authoritative parenting style that shaped who I am today.
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My Japanese American culture immensely affected my parents’ parenting style; however, I see it more evident on my maternal side than paternal. There is insufficient evidence from my father’s side to prove that Japanese American culture has correlated with the authoritative parenting style he utilized. Moreover, the respondents of the study done in Sakamoto Uji’s article (2014) states, “regardless of gender, evaluated their mothers as having been more authoritative than their fathers, but both maternal and paternal authoritative parenting had a beneficial impact on respondents’ later mental health.” The authoritative parenting style was the primary style in which I was raised. There was a mutual understanding that there were limits to be set, boundaries to be held, but if I ever needed emotional or spiritual guidance, they would be there for me. If I ever disobeyed my parents, there were not always consequences for my actions. Usually I would get an explanation of why whatever I did was wrong, and that is why I should not repeat my actions. According to the article, “The Impact of Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive Parenting Styles on Children’s Later Mental Health in Japan: Focusing on Parent and Child Gender,” the Japanese Western parenting style literature emphasizes that the authoritative parents attempt to direct the child’s activities but in a rational, issue-oriented manner. They encourage verbal give and take, and share with the child the reasoning behind their policy. Most times, that meant having to learn many concepts, etiquette, and personal situations on my own with knowing they were they to help if I asked for it. Even if the guidance was given, it was given to the best of its ability and not necessarily the most equitable. That is how I learned to cope and internalize my emotions. I grew up in a private school surrounded by children who had this “best friend” relationship with their parents, but my parents made it clear that they had authority over me and that friends were meant to be made with peers, not adults. I was taught that because there was such an age gap between my parents’ ages and mine, I would have a lack of understanding, experience, and knowledge about many things; therefore, it would be rather uncanny to do so.
In Japanese American culture, parents are primarily the caregivers and financial support system until one is capable of living alone, or with a significant other with stable income. Major historical events such as the Japanese internment camps and being wrongly alienated from society was an extremely dark and horrific time in Japanese American history. That is where my grandparents both suffered, but learned to persevere. They had to learn to live with the little to nothing that they had, and survive. Through all the suffering, they rose above and brought up their children so that they would never have to worry about anything. This is a perfect example of “survival of the fittest” because my mother’s parents had to learn to rise above in difficult situations on their own with little to no help because they did not have much at all. My mother was not accustomed to her parents showing affection the way Americans do with hugs, kisses, and much emotional support. She had to learn the Western culture ways on her own; therefore, I got a taste of each. Most of the time, she would show love and compassion, but in some instances she struggled to find a solution to how to best conclude that situation, and I was left on my own to figure out how to get myself out.
Additional examples of how my Japanese American culture affected my parents’ authoritative parenting style is when I would go over to my friend’s houses and showed up empty handed. I would get scolded if I had done so because it was considered rude and inhospitable. In being a young adult, I usually show up to someone else’s house with something in hand. Another example is when I would be talking with my mom and another classmate or friend and their parent. The conversation would evolve into each other’s accomplishments. I would voice how I did well or received a good grade, and then after my mom and I were in conversation alone, she would scold me to never do that in front of anyone because it wasn’t appropriate social etiquette. Being a Japanese American means being humble. No matter how talented you are, or what you’ve accomplished, one should not boast and should celebrate quietly. Being on a pedestal, or posing as someone who is better than others is not something Japanese Americans stand by. I believe that I am still a humble person, but in some occasions, it is appropriate to celebrate your accomplishments with the people around you. I believe that it is important to do so because I recognize the value I have, and I know what I bring to the table; therefore, I can express myself in that way. The Japanese American cultural norms define what encourages, discourages, accepts, or rejects. I strive to be greater than just that of the way my parents used an authoritative parenting style and my cultural background.
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My grandparents heavily influenced the way my mother thinks and acts, and that has carried over to me. My Japanese American culture is exceptionally important to me, and I will always hold onto that, but I would like to say that I am evolving into a better human being, overlooking some of the cultural customs and values that my heritage is accustomed to, and being fully aware that I have embraced multiple cultures in my lifetime, and have hopefully extracted the best characteristics of each.
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