Incompetent Parenting

No pictures today.  I wanted to really dedicate and focus on a topic that has really been bothering me for a very VERY long time now.  So if you are looking for updates on Haru, or pictures or videos, move on, because there won’t be any this time.

click “Continue Reading” below for the rest of this post.

Lately, the topic of incompetent parenting has really been riding my nerves.  I, by no means, consider myself to be the perfect parent.  As a matter of fact, I admit that I am far from it.  But that alone makes me better than the typical Japanese parent that I see on a nearly daily basis, because I am able recognize that I am imperfect and I try to improve on it.

So what do I consider incompetent parenting?  For me to consider a parent as incompetent takes a lot of effort on the part of the parent. That person has to be borderline insane for me to classify them as incompetent.   Small things such as forgetting to brush the kid’s teeth before going to bed, or skipping bath night, or taking them to McDonald’s twice in the same week, maybe even letting the child stay up passed their usual bedtime to watch TV on a few occasions, won’t make my criteria.  It takes a whole lot more than that to make me think that you are incompetent.  But sadly, incompetence (when it comes to parenting) is in abundance where I live.  With this said, here are a few things that I would consider incompetent parenting:

  • Giving the child whatever he/she asks for regardless of whether or not its appropriate.
  • Thinking that your child isn’t incapable of being bad, and challenging any authority who brings the child’s bad behavior to the parent’s attention
  • Not being able to recognize when your child is behaving poorly, or being completely indifferent or oblivious to their actions or the consequences of their actions
  • Thinking that a child’s chronic poor behavior is a phase and will pass without intervention from you
  • Thinking that your child is too cute to be punished for bad or rude behavior
  • Thinking punishment is not good for the child, and stunts their mental or intellectual growth.
  • Rewarding your child for bad behavior (example: buying toys, taking kids to amusement parks, etc.) when they throw tantrums or when they clearly don’t deserve it
  • Allowing your child to talk back, or call you other adults and children names
  • Feeling guilt, or fear your child will dislike you after scolding them
  • Not having the ability to confront your child in a serious and frank tone, to the point they think scolding them is a game or a joke.
  • Apologizing to your child after you have scolded them
  • Indications of neglect (dirty clothes, messy hair, chronic dental cavities, over grown nails)
  • A pattern of allowing your child to eat candy, snacks, and other junk food in place of their breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Allowing your child to drink or handle adult beverages (alcohol, coffee, highly caffeinated soft drinks, or anything with a high sugar content)
  • Having to fortify foods with sugar, or other flavorings to get the child to eat.


Now, most competent parents, with any bit of common sense may think, who does this?  It’s total  no brainer NOT to do these things, but the reality is, I literally see or read about these kinds of things happening practically everyday now.  Japan is so flooded with incompetent and incapable parents that is completely disheartening to imagine what the future of this country is going to be like when these kids grow up to be adults because they will not have the skill to behave correctly in society.

I see small kids with their parent(s) on buses and trains, who crawl all over other people, or on the floor while their parent(s) (let’s keep it real, it’s usually the mother) completely ignore it and just continue talking to the other mothers or texting on their cell phones. Sometimes I see kids on extremely crowded commuter train throw tantrums because they have to stand (in stead of sitting).  And when when someone is foolish nice enough to give the brat a seat, neither the kid or the parent thank the person (I know this by experience, so I no longer give up my seat to screaming brats because it only rewards them for bad behavior.)

I recently read this story in the news about a 4 year child who was found wandering the street at 4AM in the morning looking for her mother who was apparently working at a hostess bar and left the child alone at home.  The irony to this story is that another hostess apparently found her and took the little girl to back to her house (without telling anyone -which I think was her only mistake), and was later arrested for kidnapping which I thought was purely absurd, and goes to show how backwards this society is. Shouldn’t the mother be arrested too for neglect or child endangerment?

So, some may think that I am exaggerating the extent of the incompetence or negligence of the parenting skills, other there lack of, in this country.  Perhaps that may be so, but allow me to submit a few links that may convince you otherwise:

Those are just some of the extreme, but not so uncommon cases of incompetent parenting that happens in Japan every single day.

So why did I bring this topic up, and what compelled me to write about this?  The main reason is because I was a first hand witness to some really poor parenting when we spent the day with my wife’s cousin and her family (these are the same people went to Disneyland with a few weeks ago.)  Quite simply put, I was shocked and amazed at how rotten those kids acted yesterday.  But what amazed me even more, is that the parent’s did NOTHING, zilch, nada, about curbing their behavioral issues.

For example, the youngest boy would scream (literally scream at the top of his lungs) I’M HUNGRY, and his father would feed him some food, only to be spat out several minutes later.  He would then scream that he’s hungry again, get fed, chew on the food for a few minutes and spit it again.  This cycle continued over and over again until there was little bits of chewed up food all over the table.  Haru did something similar a while back and I simply told her that if she doesn’t swallow her food, she won’t get anymore, and she won’t get dessert.  That’s all it took to change her behavior, and yet the boy’s parent’s did NOTHING, except continue to reward for poor behavior.  But what I really didn’t appreciate the most about this child, was the amount of back talk and name calling he did towards his parents.  He called his mom “stupid” after she change his diapers.  Had it been me, I would have happily let him stew in his own feces until he apologized.   It went above and beyond the realm of what I consider acceptable behavior for a 2 year old, even a difficult one.  Had Haru ever done this, she would have seen and felt the back of hand.

The older boy was several times worse.  He would throw dirt and grass in Haru’s hair and face, as well as our faces as well.  My wife asked him to stop on several occasions, but of course he didn’t listen.  He doesn’t even listen to his own parents so why would he listen anyone else?  The worse part is that this mom didn’t once tell him to stop, and often times just giggled like an idiot when it happened.  And in addition to that, there were a couple of occasions where he got really rough and borderline violent with Haru, by kicking her and punching her in the back.  I nearly went ballistic on the brat, but luckily Haru is pretty tough and knows how to defend herself pretty well.

But again, for me the issue wasn’t with the kids, but the severe lack of attention and action from their parents.  They literally did nothing.  My wife was doing more parenting of the kids than their own parents.  Even Haru had to parent these boys by telling them that they were not playing nice and to behave themselves.  I was truly in shock and speechless by the whole situation.  On several occasions, I just wanted pull the older boy aside by the ear  and give him a “time out” like I do with Haru when she asks up.  But since I am really strict and firm when I do this, and they are not my direct relatives I felt it would be out of my place to do that.

I am not a big fan of hitting or spanking, but there are times when I do believe it is an acceptable means of punishment.  Ideally, I like to resolve behavioral issues with Haru with sanctions and positive reinforcements, and for the most part, it works well.  There were only a very few occasions when I had to resort to hitting, and that is when nothing else seemed to work.  But I felt that it really only served scare her more than anything else.   I think instilling a memory of a spanking session is enough to reengage a child when he/she acts up.  For Haru, all I have to do is count backwards from 5 to 1 and that is enough to get her back in line, because she knows that when the counter goes to zero, she get’s pulled aside.  I don’t want Haru to ever be afraid of me, but I want her to be afraid of the possible consequences of her action, and I think that’s really enough to keep any child in line.  Quite simply put, these two boys have no fear instilled within them, and in turn they do not know the consequences of what happens when they act poorly.  They simply think that they can get away with everything, which they do.

Finally, my wife did and still does confront her cousin on her kids’ poor behavior, to which her response has been I don’t know what else to do, which is ironic because from I can see, she does nothing, except giggles unbearably when her kids act up.  Even the kids’ father responded, maybe I should be a little stricter, to which I thought REALLY?  You think you’re being strict.  Let me have the boy for a weekend and I’ll show him what being strict is all about.  I guarantee you he’ll come back MUCH more obedient than he is now.


Some of my recent readings on the subject:

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