[This is a guest post written by Risa Tanji, a Student Assistant in Special Collections & University Archives, who works primarily in the Prange Collection. This is the last post of the series. See also the Introduction, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.]
The meaning of good parenting has evolved over time. During the early post-war years in Japan, parents were focused on raising a strong, independent child, while parents today seem to be more interested in fulfilling their babies’ needs.
In his book, The Common Sense of Child Rearing/赤ん坊の育て方 (Prange Call No. 2019-0038), Dr. Toshio Tanaka strongly suggested that mothers cuddle their children only when necessary. He believed that when the mother-baby “skinship” was excessive, the baby would develop an excessive craving for hugs and piggy-back-rides and would become a difficult child.
He also advised that mothers should only be with their child when breastfeeding, and that children would be happier to see their mother only at certain times of the day. Now, many mothers feel that holding their child as much as possible contributes to the child’s well being.
The Common Sense of Child Rearing also included baby sleep advice. Tanaka strongly advised against parents sleeping with their babies. He was concerned that the baby would want to nurse all night — this would disrupt the breastfeeding schedule — and neither the baby nor the parents would get enough sleep.
Today, there are disputes among parents and researchers about the family bed. Some prefer putting their baby in a crib, for fear of rolling over and crushing them. Others are in favor of the family bed, wishing to maximize their time with their children to foster a closer relationship.
According to Dr. Tanaka, one of the best ways to gauge babies’ overall health is by analyzing how much they cry. Tanaka stated that healthy babies rarely cry, never regurgitate their milk, and refuse to be held by their parents. In contrast, unhealthy babies cry often and refuse to be away from their mother. This notion is in contrast to the famous Japanese proverb, “Children who cry will grow.” Now, many parents understand that crying is a primary form of communication for a baby, and most parents would be more concerned if their baby never cried and rejected their embrace.
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