The parenting lessons Diana Ser learned from the Japanese
""In Japanese culture, a 'gracious society' is not a campaign tagline. Graciousness, according to the Japanese, is essential to being human."
We love everything about Diana Ser as a mum, and how she and her husband James Lye raise their three children. Now, she’s giving us all the more reasons to love her! In an article that appeared in Today, Diana Ser shares Japanese parenting lessons that all of us can learn from.
Diana is mummy to three adorable kids: Jake, 11, Christy, 9, and Jaymee, 6. During a trip to Japan last year, this celeb mum learned first-hand how the folk there raise such well-mannered and disciplined children.
One day during their trip, she and her family were eating lunch in a Japanese ski town diner. Diana humorously says:
“While I alternately cajoled and threatened my six-year-old to eat another mouthful of rice, the two-year-old angel in her Daddy’s lap next door was placidly feeding herself. If she was not so adorable, I would hate her.”
It was at this point that she made an interesting observation about a difference between her children, and other Japanese kids around them:
“It was not hard to tell us apart from the locals. My three monkeys were bickering with one another, then dropping their jackets, then removing their shoes. The Japanese children, however, remained calmly rooted to their seats — no drama, no fuss.”
Diana continued to observe this calmness in Japanese children as her holiday continued.
And it got her thinking…
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That was the burning question for Diana. She could only pin it down to one thing: the Japanese style of parenting.
As Diana Ser shares Japanese parenting lessons she learned while in the country, she noticed that at the core of Japanese parenting lies graciousness.
“In Japanese culture, a ‘gracious society’ is not a campaign tagline. Graciousness, according to the Japanese, is essential to being human.
“Just look at this widely used definition of discipline (shitsuke) from a Japanese folklore dictionary: ‘Putting into the body of a child, the art of living and good manners, in order to create one grown-up person’.
“So, one is not complete in one’s development until good manners are in place.”
Diana explains that with this is mind, it’s hardly a surprise that “Japanese parents and pre-schools work hard at nurturing toddlers, who will become gracious members of society.”
She feels that Japanese children are so well-behaved because a crucial component of being gracious is respecting public places.
Indeed, this was confirmed by one of Diana’s Japanese friends, Keiko, who elaborates, “The early introduction of ‘manners’ (includes) teaching children respect for public spaces. This plays a major role in how Japanese kids behave.”
One example she gave was of how if a Japanese child needed to stand on a subway train seat, their parents would always remove the child’s shoes out of respect to the next user.
This importance given to courtesy extended to kindergarten teaching too. Diana quotes her friend Keiko as saying, “Teachings, both in school and at home, are consistent, and are constantly instilled in the child.”
Diana reminisces about an experience she had with a Japanese “right-brain training” teacher in Singapore, when her son was just 10 months old.
“Whenever a baby fussed, she would advise the caregiver to step aside with the child and try to calm him or her down. If that did not work, she would tell the person to exit the classroom and return only when the child was ready. This was so as to not disrupt the rest of the class.”
To Diana, it was a new way of looking at things in parenting. There are times when a mum or dad has to be “schooled” too.
From all the parenting lessons Diana Ser learned from the Japanese, one thing is clear. Once you teach a child to respect others at a societal level, the child automatically grows into a gracious, caring adult.
And we all know the world needs more adults like that.