Friday, October 30, 2009

Time for communicating

SmileyCentral.comToday I went to a sports college to help a friend with her class by talking about the differences between Japan and New Zealand sports/exercise systems. Considering New Zealand has recently been quoted as being the third fattest nation I didn't really want to push too much of the success of the New Zealand efforts, but one thing I always do discuss is the Japanese club activities system and how little time it leaves for families to spend time together (I know I have written about this before...but it is one of my pet gripes). Anyway, to prove my point I asked the group to think about their time in junior high school and raise their hand if they spent at least half a day a week with their family doing something together (not something special, just being in the same room and talking etc.). Not one person in the class raised their hand. Okay, then how about every 2nd week.... again not one hand. Right how about once a month - surely you spent time with family members at least once a month... not one hand! The stakes were raised to 6 months and three out of the 20 students raised their hand. Once a year... we were up to 10 people. Finally, once in the three years of junior high school.. still only 10 people. Just to make sure they weren't just too lazy to raise their hands I asked how many people in the room had NOT spent ONE day (or half day) doing SOMETHING with their family during their THREE years at junior high school. The result - 10 hands were raised. To be honest I found that a bit scary, especially as they didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with that..... here's hoping that if that did happen to happen with my children that they would at least feel a little sad about it!


  1. Wow, I didn't think things were this serious... shocking.

  2. Its mind blowing!!!!!

  3. Just curious how different that would be in N.Z.? When I grew up, spending a half day probably happened on Saturday or Sunday (But church doesn't count as quality time, since we had to "sit still!"

    I can't imagine the Japanese kids didn't spend time with their family on the long weekends or the longer vacations at least.

    With a daughter of my own on the way I am also curious as to how you keep family time with your children, while living in the Japanese school system.

  4. Wow. That is a long time not to spend ANY time with family. I know my husband played A LOT of soccer in junior high and highschool so didn`t spend much time with his family but they did go and watch him sometimes- I think we probably spend more time with them now though.

  5. How nice to have a chance to speak your mind on an issue like this!

    Yes, it's true that they spend almost NO time with their families in Jnr. High. I've heard some shocking stories from friends with older kids about the sports schedule. Apparently you're in real big trouble if your kid picks a 'big' sport like baseball or soccer, but better off if they choose, say, the art club.

    A friend here had no trips home for the entire time her son was at Jnr. High because if he miseed ONE practice (about ten practices a week, more during holidays) the team would bully him and say he wasn't a real part of the team.

    It's all part of a deliberate ploy to break kids' attachments to their parents and inculcate loyalty to the group, so they all become obedient company workers who feel guilty about missing even five minutes of work but not at all guilty about never spending time with their families.

    Sorry to go on so much, it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, too, seriously thinking of spending a year or two in NZ when my kids are that age!

  6. This is a tricky one for me. The big issue in Australia is kids lack of mobility- just lying around after school watching TV.

    I would have no problem with my kids doing that amount of clubs *if* it was because they wanted to (rather than peer pressure/ teacher pressure/ school rules and more importantly *if* they were actually playing- and enjoying playing- the sport. I hate that so much of clubs is endless drills and, for the lower year levels, bench warming. Aghhhhhh!

    I think a balance between the two is best....

    But then I spent very little time with my family from 13- 18 anyway as I worked two part time jobs and babysat in what little time that left me.... that's a problem you don't get too much here!

  7. This really rattles my cage..between teens spending so little time 'relating' to their family and now today a shocking article about under twos in child care, not forming primary bonds with anyone-turning into withdrawn,non relational chn etc,etc -I despair of where society is heading....
    Rant and rave..dawn