Jun 22, 2017
There have been times since moving here that I've felt disillusioned about the Japanese way of life. It's definitely not a perfect country and I've grown to accept the "that's just the way things are" mentality... for the most part. I've put off writing about this for a while now because it's a touchy subject, but I believe that it is very important and should be discussed.
My newest student, "Stick Kid", has had a lot of trouble adjusting to his new environment. He has difficulty concentrating, he has violent outbursts, and he just seems very apathetic about most things. This is normal for most new students. They often test their boundaries and see how far they can push their teachers and classmates. Usually this period lasts about a month before the new child adapts and becomes part of the fold. Stick-kid, however, still is experiencing difficulties. I was having trouble getting answers from the Japanese staff until it was time to make Mother's Day crafts. It was then that I found out that Stick Kid, "Doesn't have a mother." At first I thought that his mother died, but was informed that this is not the case. Rather, it seems like his father took him and his older brother away from their mother. Their mother is from South Korea and after getting a divorce, the father took the boys and came down to where their grandmother lives. While I'm not exactly sure of the situation that led to the father taking the children from their mother, I do know that Stick Kid frequently talks about his mother and how much he misses her. In my opinion, this is probably why he is acting out.
This leads me into a major problem that I have with Japan: The complete removal of one parent after a divorce. In Japanese culture it seems like after a couple divorces, one parent completely disappears from the lives of the children. One of my recent graduates, Wa-chan, changed her last name from her father's to her mother's maiden name. Once that happened, the father stopped coming to all of the school events and when we made Father's Day presents that year, I was told that Wa-chan doesn't have a father anymore and that she could make a present for her grandfather instead. When I asked why the name changed and why the father was completely cut out of Wa-chan's life, I was told, "That's just how it is here." This makes me really sad. As a child of divorced parents, it would have killed me to have been told that I couldn't see one of them ever again.
I realize that this may be a cultural "norm", but it still makes me feel really sad. I feel sad for the parent who is cut out and I especially feel sad for the child. I've been giving Stick Kid extra hugs and head pats. He is a sweet boy and I hope that he adjusts to life in his new school soon.
sad stick is sad
Japanese people are absolutely shocked when I tell them that the mother of my step children has them for the weekend or something. That being said, as a step mother, life would be so much easier for me if the mother was out of the picture completely because it is more emotionally distressing for them when she just doesn't show up or call for months on end. Divorce is a really difficult situation for children. Give stick kid lots of love from me too.
In Japan, taking care of the kids seem like a task more than part of one's life. I feel like many Japanese think it is a burden to keep contact with their kids.