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Okinawan, U.S. families exchange parenting tips

Date Posted: 2003-12-25

CHATAN TOWN , Okinawa, Japan Six Okinawan families and three Department of Defense (DoD) families met at the Chatan Dome Dec. 7 to exchange parenting tips and experiences.

The gathering was part of the Chatan Health & Welfare Fair, and was open to Okinawan and DoD families with infants and toddlers to tell some of the differences between Japanese parenting and American parenting.

Some of the topics included the amount of time mothers stay in the hospital after giving birth, rooming with the babies and differences in feeding babies.

Kaori Martinez, Community Relations Officer, MCB said that differences between the two styles of parenting were also addressed during the exchange.

"The majority of the Japanese families leave the parenting to the mother," the Chatan Town native said. "Japanese mothers were surprised and envious to learn that American dads were so involved in raising their children."

She said another topic of discussion was child safety.
"They are less conscious of safety aspects compared to Americans," Martinez said. "Most of the newborns sleep together with the parents and they let their kids stay home alone at a young age."

Yuki Simmons, secretary, Community Relations, MCB, said one of the aspects of the exchange which made it worthwhile was not only getting to talk with other mothers, but also knowing she is not alone.

"I learned at the exchange that I am not the only one that faces certain problems, and that itself lifted a lot of weight on my concern," said the Naze City native.

Martinez also said a parenting exchange such as this one is good because there is never enough information on parenting.

Simmons said she would recommend parenting exchanges for any mother because it is a good opportunity not only to learn more about how to care for your baby, but to learn how the cultural differences play a role.

"I would suggest more families get involved in parenting exchanges because they can exchange good tips on parenting," Simmons said. "This is the place to find out all the answers to your questions."

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