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Japanese Fathers' Views on Childrearing

Benesse Corporation, Inc. conducted an Internet survey of fathers who have at least one child aged between 0 to 6 years old. This survey was conducted over three days in August 2005, and received responses from 2,958 fathers in their 20s to 40s. The purpose of the survey was to reveal current fathers' views on childrearing, their image of the ideal father, participation in childrearing and household chores, the relationship with their partners and their children, the balance between working and fathering, etc.

The traditional image of fathers has been that of the kaminari oyaji or "thunderous father," which emphasizes the dignity and strictness of fathers. Has this image changed, and how? The following summarizes some interesting results from the survey.

1.Image of the Ideal Father
Fathers were asked to select up to three answers that best described the ideal father from among 19 items in the survey. The characteristics most selected were "reliable" (67.0%) and "respectable" (49.4%). The traditional image of the father as "dignified" was selected by only 18.2% of the respondents. Based on the results of the survey, the image of the ideal father seems to be changing.

2. Participation in Childrearing
Most of the respondents live in urban areas and many of them work at companies. They are busy because of work. More than 60% of them spend less than two hours a day with their children on weekdays. When asked how they participate in childrearing, "scolding or praising children" and "taking a bath with children" are the most frequent responses among the six items. Eighty one point six percent recommend that their friends have children. The main reason is that they believe that raising children has matured them.

3. Husbands in the Delivery Room
In Europe and America, husbands are often present in the delivery room, but this was not popular in Japan in the past. There may be various reasons; one may be because most births were hospital deliveries, and husbands were not allowed to enter the delivery room. However, husbands themselves, adhering to the stereotype of the traditional husband, were reluctant to be present and share the moment of their child's birth. The results of the present survey, however, were surprising: 46.6% of the fathers were present in the delivery room, in particular, 55.1% of the fathers of 0 year-old babies had attended the birth. The percentage of fathers who wished to attend, but could not was 28.2%. As such, as much as 74.8% of the fathers in total wanted to be present at the birth! This indicates that it has become popular for husbands in Japan to attend the delivery. However, only 2.4% of the husbands took child-care leave.

The results of the survey are now being analyzed with the help of experts and scholars, and will be published in a final report in spring 2006. Tell us about fathers in your community. We welcome your comments. To read the flash report written in Japanese, please click here.
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