The O-man and Kids


got this comment to Thursday’s post regarding how I would deal with a 17 year old young man who refused to study.

You believe that you should let teenage boys, when even scientifically it’s proven that adolescents don’t have the sector of their brains that are responsible for the connection between actions and consequences fully developed, be free of pressure to perform well in school?


Yes, Lana… Or is it Leah? I’m so confused now. I don’t know what to call you. But yes, I believe that, in general, teenage boys–and girls–should be “free of pressure to perform well in school”. Most teenage boys who are strong-willed or have a strong independent streak will do what they want to do anyway. Any pressure applied on them will only serve to drive them away, and to me, that is a bad thing. But I added that one should also provide guidance: Reminders of the alternate options that may seem conventional but lead to conventional success, like studying, going to college and finding a job. But the advice should be gentle–appropriate diction and timing–otherwise it will sound like nagging and this will defeat the purpose of allowing the young man to find his own way. I have yet to see any man respond well to nagging and parental/sibbling pressure.

This doesn’t mean everyone is doomed to fail. I have seen many who have done as they were told and become successful in the image of their parents. But the success is usually luke-warm, or worse, they ended up resenting their success and those who applied the pressure. I fully understand the temptation to go the “tough love” route, or apply continuous pressure. I have a stepson who probably could use some… but then I think back at my own youth and refrain. Yes, love and support. That’s the ticket.

i’m quite interested in everything i’ve read here, onigiriman — even though my subscription hasn’t been too long. just wanna say i appreciate your writing. i do have some questions, and it might be rather personal, but i will ask and you can choose to not answer it.

do you have kids? if so, what are some of the life-lessons you’ve learned as a father? are your parenting styles more traditional / Japanese, or more liberal and American? and if not a father, do you think you will be one in the future, and what kind of a father do you think you will become?



ooya, thanks for the nice words. It’s nice to hear that people actually read my site, even though many don’t comment. Oh well. Some have told me that they like reading but they don’t really have anything to say in a comment.

Anyway, to your question: I have have one daughter about whom I wrote about last year in response to a question from SilverAshke who has since moved to blogger. My daughter currently lives with her mother and is going to a vocational school in Japan to learn the ropes of the music/media industry. You can click the link to read about my relationship with her. As for the type of father I was, I’m not sure if I’d peg myself as either Japanese or American. You saw what I wrote above about dealing with young men. Is that traditional? Is it American? I’m not sure.

However, when my daughter, K, was preschool, I was pretty strict. I would not hesitate to spank her if I believed it would get my message across (I didn’t strike her in any other way). I strongly believe that young people–like the young men I referred to above–need to choose their own path, but this is based on a firm grounding in high morals. This is, of course, subjective, but I have my morals and I tried to pass on to my daughter at a very young age what I believe to be right and wrong:

  • Do not jump out into the street without looking both ways.
  • Always help others who are in need.
  • Common courtesy is simple: Just place yourself in the shoes of the other person. Which is why–for example–you should not put your feet on the furniture if they are dirty or if you are wearing shoes–this includes train seats and school desks. Who knows what you’ve been walking on and what you’re spreading on top of that desk for the next person to touch.
  • Learning from others–academics as well as life experiences–is easier than going through a process of trial and error on your own, but if you need to experience it on your own, it is not necessarilly a bad thing.
  • Don’t cheat or steal. You are only cheating yourself.
  • Don’t waste money–like you father.
  • Exercise and brush your teeth religiously. If you are not healthy, brains mean nothing.

This is just a sample of some of the things I told her when she was a young child. Individual morals and values are pretty much set in the first few years of life, so I was pretty adamant about her following “my rules” until she was about six or seven. After that, all I did was provide guidelines, although I would often provide them unsolicited.

So is being strict “traditional”? Is allowing her to find her own path “western”? I guess the way I raised her–at least until she was nine–is a reflection of who I am: a Japanese American, a mixture of both cultures. But I have a feeling that Booyah already knew this.

The weekend

This weekend is Celebrate Fairfax in Northern VA, and I was wondering if anyone was going to the fair

yup! i’m gonna be there, are u?


Nope. I wanted to see Rick Springfield for old times sake, but I’m a bit too busy. On Saturday, I have to go to a colloquium on Korea, China, Japan and Memory. On Sunday, I’m going to my first Nationals Game at RFK. Damn, tickets are expensive.

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