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私は日本で3回出産した。そして、その3人とも日本で育てているから、日本とアメリカの育児の仕方の違いははっきり見えていると思う。妊娠している間に、その違いに気づき始めた。戌の日に腹帯を巻くこと(アメリカに戌の日もないし、腹帯も見たことがない)。妊娠中運動しないこと(アメリカ人めっちゃする)。妊婦検診で毎回超音波をすること(アメリカで2回だけ。)そして待ちに待ったお産。バリバリ痛くて、無痛分娩なしの残酷な3人の出産だった(アメリカの70%のお産は無痛だ。)

 

I have had three children in Japan, and since I have raised them here, too, I think I can clearly see the major differences between the Japanese and Americans viewpoints regarding childraising. I first started noticing the differences when I was pregnant with my first child. The doctor told me to wrap my tummy to keep it warm on Dog Day (huh?),  I found out Japanese women rarely exercise during pregnancy (why?), and they also get an ultrasound at every single visit (sweet!) Then, when that glorious day arrived when I would finally get to hold my bundle of joy, I endured horrible labor pains (3 times) with no pain meds to the point that I seriously wanted to die. 

 
妊娠してから、大学に行くまでの子育ての違いは本当に半端ない。しつけ、教育、習い事、マナー、食育などの違いはとっても多い。でも私は子供が生まれてすぐ、1番びっくりしたのは添い寝だった。何で子供と一緒に寝ると?危なくないと?旦那と一緒に寝たくないと?質問は山ほどあった。全然意味がわからんなと思った。私は親と一緒に寝た思い出は、どこかの家族旅行に行った時か、調子が悪い時だけだった。でも日本人は、子供が生まれてからずっと一緒に寝る習慣がある。今日のブログでは、アメリカと日本の添い寝についての考え方を書きたいと思っている。


From pregnancy until the little bundle of joy heads off to college, there are major differences in parenting strategies between my home country and my adopted one. Discipline. Education. Afterschool activities. Manners. Food. But probably the thing that surprised me the most was the custom of co-sleeping. Why do you want to sleep with your baby? Isn't it dangerous? Don't you want to sleep with your husband? My questions were endless, and I just couldn't understand this bizarre custom. The only memories I have as a child of sleeping with my parents were when we stayed in a hotel on a family vacation, or when I was sick. But many Japanese people sleep with their kids from birth until they are well on their way to independence. One of my readers asked me to write about this topic, so that is what I am going to do today.

 

殆どのアメリカ人の親は、赤ちゃんが生まれる前に部屋を準備する。この可愛くて、赤ちゃんグッズまみれの部屋は、英語でnursery (ナーサリー) と言います。赤ちゃんが生まれてすぐそのナーサリーで寝かせる。まあ、日本人と同じように、最初の死にそうな3ヶ月間くらい赤ちゃんと同じ部屋で寝る親もいるかもしれないけど、同じベッドじゃなくて、同じ部屋にいるだけです。親は、自分の部屋にベビーベッドを持って行って、夜泣きの時期が終わるまで簡単に母乳か粉ミルクを飲ませるからさ。

 

Americans put their babies to sleep in a crib in the baby nursery from birth. Well, to be truthful, many Americans will pull the baby's crib into their room for the first three months, the period all parents think they themselves will die from lack of sleep and nutrition. But even then, they don't sleep in the bed with the baby. When the baby cries in his crib, they can easily get to him to feed him. 

 

でもその時期が終わったら、訓練が始まるぞ。赤ちゃんをナーサリーのベビーベッドで寝かせて、泣いても親は赤ちゃんを抱っしには行かない。だって、3ヶ月になったから、お腹が空いているから泣いているわけじゃなくて、甘やかされたいだけだからだ。日本人は虐待だと思っているかもしれないけど、泣くことで死なないと思うから、抱っこしなかったら、どんどん赤ちゃんが泣かなくなって、あっという間に朝まで寝れるようになる。この習慣をキープすると、親も寝不足にはならない。これはアメリカの考え方です。

 

But after that first three months or so, the baby's real life training begins hard core. The baby is returned to his own room, and put to sleep in his own crib. After the baby is put to sleep in his own bed, even if he cries, in most cases, the parents won't go to pick him up. The reasoning for this is simple. The baby, after 3 months or so, doesn't need the nutrition of breast milk or formula to sustain him through the night. His crying is merely because he wants attention and wants to be held.  I am sure that many Japanese see this as a form of torture, but we Americans figure that a baby will not die from crying, and that eventually, after realizing that he is not really hungry and that his mother is not coming, he will go back to sleep. The end result is a well-rested baby who sleeps through the night, and well-rested parents as well. 

 

私たちの場合、3ヶ月くらい赤ちゃんと同室した。けどその後、ナーサリーで寝かした。もちろん夜泣きしたけど、赤ちゃんの部屋に抱っこしに行かなかった。やっぱり、親、誰でも赤ちゃんの泣き声に我慢ができない。すぐ行きたくなるやろう?けど、赤ちゃんが泣く度に行ったら、自立しないとアメリカ人は思う。だから、私たちは我慢した。

 

We slept with our kids in our bedroom for the first three months or so (four? five?), but we eventually moved them to their own rooms. At first, of course they cried their little hearts out at night. Still, we gritted it out and didn't go to them. Parents all over the world love their children, so it is hard to hear them cry. The natural thing is to want to go and hold them and cuddle with them. But if you do that, the babies will not learn the independence that is so dear to the American heart. So we sucked it up.

 

最初の夜、ミアちゃんは45分くらいずっと泣いていた。本当に辛くて、私はダメな母だと思った。結局ミアはママが来ないことに気づいて、泣きながら寝た。次の日は40分だった。その次は35分だった。毎晩必ず泣いていたけど、時間はどんどん少なくなった。2週間くらい我慢した上で、やっと寝かした後、泣かんくなった。朝までずっと寝てくれた。あれから夜泣きは殆どしなかった。1歳頃また泣き出したけど、その時期はそんなに長く続かなかった。

 

The first night we put Mia to sleep her room, she cried like 45 minutes. I thought I was the worst Mom ever. She did that thing when babies cry so much they look like they are hyperventilating. You know what I mean, right? But I didn't go, and she eventually cried herself to sleep. The next night was the same deal, but she cried 40 minutes. The next night, 35. The next night, 30. Finally, after a couple of weeks, I was able to put her in her crib, kiss her goodnight, and leave with no tears. From that point on, she slept through the night, and as a result, so did I. Around age 1, she went through a period when she would cry at night, but it didn't last long.

 

 

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これは英語でSpooningと言います。子供とのspooningが大好き。

Love spooning my kids. 
 

日本では、赤ちゃんが生まれてすぐお母さんと同じ布団で一緒に寝ることにする。夜泣きをしたら、お母さんはすぐ起きて、おっぱいをあげて、また寝る。まあ、これはめっちゃ楽だから添い寝の一つの理由になっているけど、もう一つの理由は、スキンシップです。日本人が、お母さんと赤ちゃんのスキンシップをバリバリ大切にする。だからお腹が空いてなくても、スキンシップのためにおっぱいをあげても良かろうと、思っている人は多い。

 

In Japan, babies sleep with their mothers on the same futon in the same room from birth. If they cry, the mom can easily wake up and nurse the baby, and this is one of the biggest benefits of co-sleeping. There is no need to go to another room while half asleep to nurse the baby. But I think an even bigger reason is mother-baby bonding. The Japanese really value this bonding that occurs between a mother and her new baby, and one of the ways that bonding is strengthened is through co-sleeping.

 

スキンシップのために、添い寝をするアメリカ人はいるけど、人数はそんなに多くない。日本と違って、多くのアメリカ人は、添い寝は超危ないと思っている。小さい赤ちゃんの上に寝転んだら、窒息するからさ。日本人は、それを全然心配してないらしい。

 

For the same reason, there are many adovocates of co-sleeping in the U.S. Not nearly as many as in Japan, but there are Americans who chose to sleep with their babies.  The majority of Americans, however, believe that co-sleeping is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. The danger of a parent rolling over on a helpless baby and suffocating him is too big of a risk to take. But the Japanese, apparently, don't worry about this at all.

 

 

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下の2人の寝室。
My two youngest daugters share this room. 
 

日本人は何よりもスキンシップを大事にするから、寝不足になっていいと思っているママが多いかも。多くのママたちはおっぱいをあげながら寝る。ずっとおっぱいを出しっぱなしの状態になっている。まあ、悪いことじゃないけど、私はイヤだな。すごく母乳が出た私は同じような事をしたら、どんだけ大きな洪水になってたやろう?赤ちゃんが小さい時、母乳パッドとバリ仲良かった。ある日、おっぱいを出した時、旦那の顔に母乳しぶきをかけた。ごめんね、リズ。あいつをコントロールできんかった。

 

Because the Japanese value bonding more than anything, and this bonding is formed through co-sleeping and on demand nursing, they don't really care if they are sleep-deprived and keep their breasts on call 24/7. I wasn't like that, though. If I had fallen asleep with my breast hanging out, I would have caused a flood close to the one in the time of Noah. I was best friends with those nursing pads that you stick into your bra. Once, I whipped it out to feed my crying baby, and I sprayed my husband right in the face. Sorry, honey, I am not responsible for those things at that time.

 

ちなみに、日本人はマジおっぱいの話が好き。アメリカでは、テレビで女性がでかいおっぱいを見せることは全然平気やけど、授乳しているお母さんの姿を見たくない。気持ち悪いから。マジ意味わからん。普通の会話でもあまりおっぱいの話はしない。相当プライベートなことだと思われているからさ。 

 

By the way, the Japanese sure do talk about breasts a lot. In America, due to some twisted form of logic, people are perfectly comfortable seeing a half naked woman on TV, but cringe at seeing a mother feeding her baby. Whacked out country it is, my America. The topic of nursing doesn't really come up in daily conversation because it is seen as a very private matter. 

 

けど日本では、誰もが、いつでも、どこでもおっぱいの話をするような気がする。私の子供は小さい時、よく知らないお婆ちゃんに話かけられた。そして「赤ちゃんがかわいい!おっぱい、よく出ると?」と聞かれた。うん。まあ、普通かな。あまり他のお母さんの母乳の量を調べていないからわからないよ、おばあちゃん。

 

But in Japan, it seems that everyone and their mother (or brother) will ask you about your milk production. I was once nursing one of my kids, and this elderly lady came up to me and remarked how cute my kid was. She followed that with, "So, are you producing a lot of milk?" I fumbled my way through an answer like, "yeah, sure, I guess so." but in my mind I was thinking, "How the heck am I supposed to know? I don't really compare milk production with my friend (ok, so maybe I did a little), but what exactly is "a lot of milk?" 

 

保育園の生活発表会で年長のクラスはお母さんのために劇をした。赤ちゃんの時の写真を背景にして、お母さんのおっぱいの魅力について語っていた。順番に立ち上がって、「僕は、お母さんのおっぱいが大好き!とても柔らかくて、気持ちいい。」「私のお母さんのおっぱいはとても素敵だ!」アメリカ人の私は信じられなかった。必死にこう思った。自分の子供は年長になったら、これをやめてくれ、お願いだから。嬉しいことに、年長になったら、おっぱいの物語がなかった。その変わりに、素敵なおっぱいと関係ない劇をした。でも正直に言うと、何の劇にしたか、まったく覚えていない。もし私のおっぱいの魅力について大きな声で叫んでたら、きっと覚えているだろう。

 

And then there was the kids' Winter Pageant at preschool. The soon-to-be-graduating class sat down in a row with their baby pictures pasted to the wall behind them. Then, in turn, they each got up and proclaimed the wonder of their Mommy's breasts. One boy said, "I like my Mommy's breasts because they are soft and feel good!" Another girl declared, "My Mom's boobs are the best!" Um yeah, my American self sat staring at this spectacle completely dumbfounded, hoping against all hope that this wouldn't happen when my kids were in the soon-to-be-graduating class. I wasn't thrilled at the whole school hearing about the wonders of my breasts. Luckily, I escaped that misery, and the kids did some completely adorable play, which I don't remember at all, by the way. I probably would if it had been about my breasts.

 

 添い寝の話に戻りましょう。添い寝は根本的な考え方の違いから来ている。アメリカでは、赤ちゃんが生まれて来ると家族の一人のメンバーになる。大事なメンバーなんだけど、他のメンバーと同じくらいの大事さ。日本では、赤ちゃんは家族の中心になる。生まれたら大学に行くまで、家族の動きは殆ど、子供中心です。夫婦関係も変わる。お互いを名前じゃなくて、「ママ」と「パパ」か「お母さん」と「お父さん」と呼ぶようになる夫婦が多い。2人だけで寝る事もやめて、子供と一緒に寝るようにする。

 

Anyway, let's get back to the story about co-sleeping . There is a fundamental difference in thinking between the Japanese and Americans. In Japan, when a child is born into a family, that child becomes the center of the family. In America, a child is a very important member of the family, but he is not the center. Because the child is the center, in Japan every decision that a family makes revolves around that child, and what is best for that child. Even the child's parents' relationship changes. Many couples stop calling each other by their names, and instead address each other as mama and papa or okaasan and otoosan. In many cases, they stop sleeping together, and instead they sleep with the kids.

 

アメリカ人は何よりも夫婦関係を大事にする。夫婦の時間を必死に守る。それは、赤ちゃんと同室しない1番の主な理由だと思う。家族の中心は、生まれて来た赤ちゃんじゃなくて、夫婦関係です。こういう考え方は、日本人の目から見ると、とってもわがままな考え方だと思われるかもしれない。けど、アメリカ人の考え方では、夫婦関係は良くないと、家族は健康的じゃない。で、その関係を維持するために、「ママ」 と「パパ」 の役割だけじゃなくて、夫婦としてのアイデンティティーはすごく大事ですだ。私は、夫のリズを「Daddy」と呼ばないね。だって、私のお父さんじゃないもん。私の夫だ。

 

Americans value the romantic relationship of parents more than anything, and they do what they can to make sure that relationship is maintained after the kids are born. I think this is the main reason that parents don't sleep with their children. The center of the family is not the children, but the parents' relationship. Japanese people may see this view as selfish, but most Americans think that if the parents' relationship isn't healthy, the family isn't healthy. In order to keep their identities as a married couple and not become only parents, most couples don't call each other "Mommy" and "Daddy" after their kids are born. I never call my husband Daddy. I mean, he isn't my Daddy--he is my husband. 

 

こういうわけで、アメリカの親はよくデートに行ったり、子供の前でイチャイチャをしたりする。子供は 「気持ち悪い!」 と言うかもしれないけど、アメリカの考え方では、イチャイチャを見る子供は、親はお互いを愛していることの確信があるから安心する。心の中に平安がある。

 

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That is why many parents go on dates and leave their kids with babysitters, and show affection to each other in front of their kids. While seeing their parents hug and kiss may gross kids out, Americans think it gives them security to know that their parents are happy and therefore, the family is stable. As a result, the kids' hearts are at peace, knowing their parents aren't going to get divorced and split up the family.

 

最近、色々なことに対しての考え方が変わってきた。子供の小さい時に、私が日本のやり方は本当におかしいと思った。だって、8時以降になったら、私は旦那と2人の時間になったけど、友達はずっと夜泣きで起きてて、おっぱいを出しっ放しにして、寝不足だった。意味がわからんかった。アメリカのやり方は絶対に正しいと思った。友達にアメリカのやり方を教えてあげたけど、やっぱり殆どの日本人は赤ちゃんの泣き声に我慢ができない。もしかしたらアメリカ人のほうが残酷かも。

 

I've changed a lot these days in my thinking about a lot of things. And one of those things regards co-sleeping. When my kids were little, I really thought co-sleeping was nuts. I remember thinking, why don't these Japanese ladies get it? I mean, I am free from 8 o'clock at night to spend time with my husband and to do what I want to do, and my friends are constantly having sleepless nights and keeping their breast on call 24/7. I totally didn't get it. I was so sure the American way was the right way, that I tried teaching my friends to put their kids to sleep the American way. But I soon figured out that the Japanese are just total wimps regarding crying babies, and that maybe we Americans are cruel after all. 

 

今、私のキッズは自分たちの部屋があって、殆どいつもそこで寝るけど、たまにみんなで寝ることもある。特に、日本のめちゃくちゃ暑い夏は同室が多い。電気代が伝説的のクレシーニ家はそうしないと、電気代は自己ベストを更新する可能性が高い。今の家では、エアコン8台が付いているからさ。8台。8台。もう一回言う。8台。やっぱり子供と一緒に寝ることが好き。でも電気代が安くなるから好きなわけじゃなくて、寝顔を見ると癒されるからだ。けど、顔を子供に蹴られることがあまり好きじゃない。あれは痛いバイ。

 

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今朝の様子。ビーンズチェアはバリバリ寝心地がいい。
Just this morning...The beanbag/comforter combo is actually quite comfy. 


Now, the kids have their own rooms and sleep there most of the time, but sometimes they join us--especially during summer. The only way to keep our electricity costs down is to turn my bedroom into a makeshift shelter because we have 8 AC units. 8. 8. Let me say it again--8.  If we ran them all, we would be driven to bankruptcy. And we usually like sleeping with the kids--except when they kick us in the face. That hurts.

 

 

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長女の部屋。珍しいことに、まあまあ片付いている
My oldest daughter's room is unusually clean today.

 

アメリカのやり方は完璧じゃない。文化によって、国によって、家族によっていろんな子育ての考え方がある。自分の家族に合ったやり方を探すべきだ。こういう考え方はあまり良くないと私は思っている。「おばあちゃんはこうやったから正しい」 とか 「アメリカ人だからこういう子育て方をせんと」 とか「私のやり方が1番良いから皆同じようにせんといけん。」 

 

The American way is not perfect. Each culture, each country, each family has a different way of raising children. Each family has to find the way that suits their family the best. If you are thinking stuff like this, maybe you should re-evaluate your thought patterns. "Well, this is the way my grandmother did it, so it's right," or "This is the way Americans do it, so you have to do it this way too," or "My way is the best so everyone should do it like me," 

 

人間は自分の道を選ばないと。もし日本人の夫婦は、子供と添い寝をして、それで幸せな家族になるなら、それでも良かろう?同じように、アメリカ人の夫婦は、子供と別々の部屋で寝るからよりよく幸せな夫婦関係が出来るなら、それでも良かろう? 両方とも魅力があると思う。世界中の親は、自分の子供を愛しているけど、その愛の表し方が文化によって違う。何千年以上、日本人はこういう子育て方をしているから、私は批判する権利がない。そういうわけで、寝不足になってもいいぐらい赤ちゃんとのスキンシップを大事にするお母さん達、頑張れ!応援しているよ。私は寝るけど。。。

 

People have to choose their own path and what works for their family. If the Japanese way of sleeping with their children leads to a happy family life, that's totally awesome.  In the same way, if by not sleeping with their children, American parents are happier and have a better marriage, then that is awesome, too. I can see good in both ways of thinking. Parents all over the world love their kids, but how they express that love differs from culture to culture.  The Japanese have been sleeping like this for many thousands of years, so I have no right as a brash American to criticize it. So I say to all those awesome Japanese moms who value bonding time with their kids more than anything, and live like sleep-deprived zombies for an entire year, good for you! Rock on! But I'm going to sleep.....

 

 

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