Free «The Differences in Child Rearing between the Japanese and the Efe» Essay Paper

The Differences in Child Rearing between the Japanese and the Efe


The caretaking practices among human beings are not determined by simple phylogenetic factors but rather are an interplay between such factors and cultural, ecological, accidental, and organismic factors. As a result of such an interplay, a caregiving strategy that suits the demands and opportunities available to the caregiver is attained. Various fundamental factors are shared among most of the models concerned with the caretaking environments for human infants. For instance, in most of the models, it is stated that infants are dependent on adult care for survival as they are not able to meet their own needs (Lehrer & Kawasaki, 1985). The Efe pigmies from Africa and the Japanese differ in a way in terms of their child-rearing practices. However, it is evident that these groups have held onto their traditional practices in child rearing, with a small change being observed in the Japanese approaches. This paper aims to differentiate the individualistic approach in child rearing among the Japanese culture, and the multiple approach experienced in terms of child rearing among the Efe of Zaire.

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Differences in Child Rearing

Child rearing is an important factor of any community as it instils in the child a cultural perspective of life and normality. As such, each community, especially those that still hold onto the traditional approaches such as the Japanese and the Efe, pay utmost attention to this period of life. However, with respect to different care-taking models, these groups create a different position of the child in their lives in terms of priority. Among the Efe, the child comes second to society. As such, the child is a responsibility of all members of the society (Tronick, Morelli, & Winn, 1989). Thus, as much as the mother sleeps with the child at night during early months of life, every member of the society at disposal takes care of the child during the day. Case in point, the child may even cry when the mother is close enough, but a different member of the community comforts him/her. In this case, the child is oriented into life not just as part of the family, but as part of the community at large. Nevertheless, it is important to note that such multiple caregiving among the Efe is not due to the need for cooperation in the same sense they cooperate in hunting and gathering activities (Tronick, Morelli, & Winn, 1987).

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The life of Efe individuals is continuous social exposure and interaction. These individuals live in camps that they build in a cleared area in the forest, with such camps being free from physical barriers. It is important to note that their huts are limited to sleeping, storage of food, and cover from rain in terms of use, with most of the activities such as cooking, eating, and childcare, and other moods of individuals being shared among all the members of the camp (Tronick, Morelli, & Winn, 1987). In addition, the women in this community also share other activities out of the camp with different individuals. Therefore, it is unusual to come across an Efe conducting a solitary task or in a setting that promotes solitude. The cultural values of the Efe require all individuals to have social skills in order to refrain from disruptive conflict. In addition, individuals are expected to be less aggressive towards others in the group, more cooperative, and to exhibit commitment towards the general success functioning of the group. As such, the child rearing activities are oriented towards strong group attachment and identification. Nevertheless, the children still sleep with their mothers and show more attachment towards their mothers, especially after the sixth month of birth - an aspect that ensures that their individual functioning is not disrupted by their fusion and fission into the camps and the resultant membership changes (Tronick, Morelli, & Winn, 1989).

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On the other hand, the Japanese lean more towards an individualistic approach in child-rearing practices. In this case, the child is more of an individual responsibility of the mother than of the community at large. The mother is faced with the task of training the child in every aspect of life and the cultural norms of the community. In this case, the child is not often left out of the earshot or the sight of the mother (Kurokawa, 1968). Moreover, no other individual can substitute the mother in the care of the child. In addition, the mother does not think, at any point, of leaving the child with a “stranger”. The general assumption created by culture is that the child is afraid to be alone. The mothers have also developed a shared perception of the outside world as being frightening, and that only their presence can guarantee the safety of their children. As much as the mother may fail to recognize the impact of such a technique, her approaches and attitude arouses a fear within the child to make independent choices, and leads to the development of an anxiety concerning isolation from friends and family (Abbott, 1992). As such, such an approach leads to increased responsiveness among the children to the wishes of the adults and reduced concerns in determining the roles and occupation of the adults.

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It is evident that the Efe utilize a multiple child rearing approach while the Japanese apply an individualistic approach in their child rearing practices. As such, the child is a responsibility of the entire camp among the Efe, with the women helping each other in terms of caregiving including breastfeeding. On the other hand, the Japanese consider the child, especially during the earlier months of birth, a responsibility of the mother only. As such, the mother is not expected to leave the child under the care of any other individual at any point, or even out of the mother’s sight. These two approaches differ in the way they affect the child, with the Efe’s approach denying attaching the child to the community at large, and allowing for independent decision-making, free from the influence of their parents, but still within the scope of community norms. Contrary to this, the Japanese child is limited to the decisions made by their parents and their develop anxiety concerning being set free from their families, which tend to have created a protective shield for them from the dangers of the world.  

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