The Day after Mother's Day: A word for Dads:

In most families, and especially here in Japan, child-rearing duties fall to the mother in the household. Watching my wife deal with managing a household—cooking, washing clothes daily, packing school lunches and communicating with teachers,--I’d say she has one of the busiest, hardest jobs in the world (though arguably one of the most rewarding). Add to this that some women, on top of all that, work during the day, and I feel almost in awe of working moms.

We men have our jobs, too, and they can be tiring. I imagine thousands of Japanese salarymen dragging themselves home after ten or so hours at the office, exhausted, hungry, and perhaps with a little work-related stress brought home for good measure.

Meishi! Furou! Neru! (Dinner! Bath! Sleep!) is not a real good basis for conjugal communication, but to say that I didn’t have nights when that’s all I wanted would be less than honest.

So what’s a father to do with his kids? Even moreso, what can the father be doing if one of his children is not going to school?

The easiest thing to do ( and what I see most often) is the blame game. I’m out all day earning money for this family! Couldn’t you at least get the kids to school?”

Blaming your wife is certainly no way to address the issue of futoko-ism. Neither is blaming the school, teachers, or your child him or herself.
The first thing you can do is to support your wife. She and you are in this together, and she needs your support (and you will need hers) as you tackle some of the challenges you will face being a “futoko parent.”

Now, being the parent of a futoko kid may not be as glamourous as being the parent of a golf pro or a t.v. personality, but it can be just as rewarding. And here is a promise: during your child’s futoko period, whether is last for days, weeks, months or years, if you stay in the game, don’t give up, and get support, you have the opportunity to learn more about your children, your spouse, your family and yourself than you ever thought possible.

The easiest and least effective route for the father to take is just to opt out. Deny there is a problem or leave it to mom and the teachers to sort out.

In my 15 years of meeting school refusal kids and their parents in japan, I can say that one of the common factors I often see is the absense (physical or emotional) of a father figure. Often times the mother is single, the father is no longer present…..


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