Blog 002. (English version)
I am going to write about what sort of things have helped to build kids’ confidence while they grow up as an ethnic minority.
(However, I have to declare that majority of what I am going to write here has been implemented by nobody else but my wife who is dealing with the things day to day for kids’ sake. The power of mum!)
How the relationships between parents might affect kids’ relationships.
A few years on since kids started to go to primary school, I believe it’s about the time they have developed their characters, and individual’s physical abilities will start to show, and so will their power relationship.
If you are a parent from a family of ethnic minority, the worries such as…
“Is my son/daughter getting on well with his or her pals?” or…
”Isn’t my child getting teased or involved in any sort of bullying?”
will never go away…
As far as I know, there are a few children whose mother has got a Japanese nationality in my kids’ school,
however my kids are only ones whose parents are both Japanese, thus it goes without saying that their appearance is very Japanese.
Schools in London are often multinational with kids coming from all sorts of ethnic background.
And I can say that my kids are well-integrated into their school, too.
However, they are Japanese after all.
Even though my son’s height is above average-similar-aged Japanese kids’, his European or African pals are taller by a head (and some are much more well-built), so this trifle sometimes worries me..
When your son have had a small fight with his pal, even though it was nothing special between the kids
and they can get on well with each other following day like nothing had happened,
you tend to imagine the situation with some sort of negative way, and start doubting his pal or pal’s parents.
But this kind of protective attitude can be built up when you have not formed enough relationship with other kids’ parents,
and because you don’t know each other well, the imagination jumps the gun, and as a result you might end up creating an unnecessary gap.
And to make matters worse, this might cause a negative effect on your kids’ relationship with his pals.
Thus, actively networking with your child’s classmate’s parents is a very important matter.
Especially, participating in a little chat (mostly a group of mums) which is often taken place at the time of dropping off or picking up your children is a crucial point.
It is no exaggeration to say that whether doing this or not will determine your kids’ future.
By associating with other parents, you will get opportunities for your kids to join in some activities in which some of your kids’ classmates are also participating,
or simply let your kids play with their’s over the weekends, or inviting them to your kids’ birthday parties / getting invited by their’s, etc.
And in there, your kids will be able to form further bonding with their classmates.
Our kids’ school does not have a system like swapping pupils between the classes every year (I do not know about other schools, but it is quite common with schools in Japan).
Therefore kids will spend entire school life with the same classmates till they graduate,
so…that means the relationships among parents will be even more significant.
Furthermore, the bonding between parents will grow as year goes by,
therefore if you are deferring this opportunity with an excuse of being busy, you and your kids will have been missing out a lot…
The fact that my kids are getting on well with their school mates despite we live slightly away from others is,
I have to say, all thanks to my wife’s frequent efforts to keep in touch with their parents.
Awareness as Japanese
As parents who were born and grew up in Japan before moving into London,
we can only imagine how our kids are getting on with their everyday life as Japanese,
however we cannot actually experience how it is like…
They, of course, know that they are Japanese, but they were born here and are growing up with Britain’s culture,
so I presume that there will be time for them to consider their roots at some point in their future…
Our kids have both parents with Japanese nationality, thus their case will be different from the other kids with one of their parents with Japanese nationality.
So, what I thought after having watched the summary of ” I am yellow, white, and a little bit blue” by Mikako Brady with Atsuhiko Nakata’s YouTube channel,
even if my kids are growing up with the culture of Britain,
they are pure Japanese at the end of the day,
so it will be the best to encourage them positively to learn Japanese culture and language,
so that it could be an great advantage for them in their future.
Unfortunately, as for myself, I had spent most of my everyday life in Japan just playing and listening to the music such as rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and so on (why and what was I doing!!?),
therefore my general knowledge about Japan is very poor,
thus I have disappointed so many people till today each time they ask me about where I am from.
And what I have found out after living here for a while is that, there are so many people who love Japanese culture in this country,
and the fact that they strongly expect you to be genuine Japanese.
Hence if your children are showing interest in learning about Japan,
we parent should make an good effort to create an environment where they can casually be in touch with Japanese culture.
Our kids’ regular activities are mainly the followings…
- “Bunko” (means “library” in English) run by Japanese mum’s community. They read for or familiarize kids with Japanese picture books, and occasionally play some traditional Japanese outdoor games.
- “Bokokugo Kyoushitsu” (means “classroom of native language”). My daughter often pronounces “Bokoboko” which means “beaten up” or “with lots of dents”, instead of “Bokokugo”. ….innocuously, of course!
- Sunday morning conversation with their grandparents in Japan.
Unfortunately, 2. is currently unavailable due to a pandemic situation, so it has been replaced by the task of writing Chinese characters from me.
The most important thing is to create the ambience that kids are naturally able to feel they are well-connected to Japan.
Watching Japanese YouTube channel might be effective,
but having regular conversation with their grandparents who actually live in Japan, will make kids recognize that they are part of them, as well as make them feel easy.
And this will make them feel like learning more about their roots, I strongly believe.
Getting involved in local community
I lately recognized that my son Taka (ten years old) has achieved fast-growing with his mentality over a year or two.
Part of the reason for it might be just because of his age,
however it is surprising and also nice to see your kid behaving confidently,
considering the fact that his voice had always been the lowest when it comes to class assembly in his school.
Come to think of it, his change might have started from this point…
One day my wife told me that a group of school kids and their dads were playing football in the park every Sunday, and my son’s classmate was also participating.
In order to make ends meet, I did not want to drop my Sunday shift at work, so I did not take it seriously in the beginning.
However I was reading a book of child rearing then,
and it said that…
” … between the age of 8 and12 is a crucial period for boys to build up their confidence,
and it really depends on how they have a good relationship with their fathers.”
…I was like Oops!!!
I decided to have Sunday off….
I almost had chosen a wrong path…
The Sunday football game is administrated by a local super dad called “Joe Hunter”, and because kids and dads are playing all together, there is always great vibes and healthy relationships among kids and dads.
I am not bad at playing football, so eventually kids started to recognize me like “Who’s dad is that?” so, it went like “He is Taka’s dad!”
My son gradually got along with other kids (and with football itself which he had rarely played at the time he joined),
and eventually he started to show a shower of sliding tackles to his opponent,
since I let him watch a cult Japanese football cartoon called “Captain Tsubasa“!!! (Nankatsu vs Meiwa) w
He would cry from time to time when ball struck his face or when he got his foot kicked accidentally by his opponent (just like other young kids would)
but he gradually overcame all these things and was getting stronger and stronger every week.
However, the pandemic arrived in early 2020.
With the government’s announcement of 1st UK lockdown, it became taboo for the public to meet up with more than 6 people at one time,
so the Sunday football was temporarily closed, sadly…
Kids needed to release their energy from time to time anyway,
so I and my wife thought of seeking something that kids could work on and were able to enjoy individually.
We ended up purchasing skateboards for our kids, and one for I and my wife to share.
I believe boys generally love this type of thrill-involving activity.
They love to work on all these tricks and techniques.
While I, my wife, my daughter were dropping out (daughter switched skateboarding to roller skating), he kept going…
He would glance at older kids next to him showing amazing skills , and make an attempt to copy them.
Then a good news for him was delivered from one of my wife’s mum friends.
According to her, there was this obsolete skateboarding space, not far away from where we live, getting repaired by local skateboarder’s community,
and they lately had started giving weekly lessons for kids.
She had already let her son participate in, and was wondering if our son wanted to join in.
My boy was chuffed and totally up for it.
Her son had started skateboarding a while ago, so he was very good at it.
Seeing him skating very smoothly, my son got absolutely motivated and was desperate to catch up with him.
Eventually, the government announced the closing of 1st lockdown, and the schools were reopened.
So as not to stop his skateboarding activity before his passion starts to cease,
my wife set up skateboarding group with WhatsApp and contacted his classmates’ mums for Sunday-morning-skateboarding-get-together.
Surprisingly, despite the fact that my son had only started skateboarding recently,
some of his skateboarding skills were outstanding among the others
(thanks to the community people and his friends who taught him during the 1st lockdown).
And this drew his classmates’ attention and he seemed to have gained some kind of confidence.
His mates treated him differently here.
After the 1st lockdown, he seemed to have been acting more assertive way, and looked happier both with school life and at home.
He also looked enjoying more with after-school activities.
I knew that finding a particular field where you can do slightly better than others,
or simply finding something in which you can be really absorbed would build confidence in your childhood,
but it is not easy for kids to figure out what it is for themselves in the beginning.
Therefore, in conclusion, I think it is crucially important that we parents make efforts to create some opportunities for kids to try out to see what could suit them well.
And, participating positively in local community’s activities can be a great help for kids to find it out…