Hi!! I hope everyone is well. I’m ready grateful for you!!
I had an odd encounter yesterday and I’m unsure what I should have done differently.
I went to the park with Shimi (1 year, 5 months) as I’m trying to have her play with other kids there. She is at nursery all day and I would like to see how she interacts and just would like her to interact with other kids, basically.
A mother and father and their daughter show up and it catches Shimi’s attention. So I look and say hi. The daughter walks over by her dad and the mom walks towards us. She comments how Shimi is cute and continues towards her. I’m within arms reach but am trying to not overreact and be polite.
the mom moves like she is gonna touch Shimi’s cheeks, which I would prefer not to happen, strongly, but as she does, she just does a full pick up. Shimi is stunned, as I am too. How could I have prevented this is my first question. How do you stop someone from picking up or even just touching your child. I felt/feel like I didn’t protect her well enough.
then, to make it weirder, the lady says “says bye bye” and I’m weirded out and Shimi starts reaching for me and I her and i put her in my arms. I’m really unsure what to think of what I could/should have done differently. The line of being polite and friendly vs don’t touch my kid, I’m ready unsure of what I should have done and don’t like the feeling. Advice?at #7746
Oh wow, she picked up your daughter?! Honestly, I would never expect someone to do that so I don’t even know how I would react. In my mind, I would ideally grab my daughter right away but at the same time, when something is unexpected, as it probably was for you, sometimes you’re too stunned to do anything.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not wanting strangers to touch your child, especially during a pandemic. I think it was impolite of her to just PICK UP your child! I can’t even muster the courage to ask a good friend if I can hold her 3-month-old (because pandemic)!
I’m curious to hear what other parents think, so I hope someone else shares their thoughts.at #7750
I was stunned and after about 30 seconds I reached and took her back. As a parent who is learning daily, this was a learning experience. I think I am going to try and sprays place myself between strangers and my daughter. It was a weird experience for sure.at #7752
Holy cow, what an unpleasant and startling experience for you both! I’m sorry you had to experience that.
For me personally, whenever a stranger has tried to be grabby with my daughter I find myself speaking without even meaning to – “please don’t touch!” “please stay back!” “please stop!” (with the “…kudasai” added on just in time, when my brain catches up…) and sometimes even a curt “eh?! what are you doing?” but I’ve never had to deal with someone fully picking her up outright! That mother should have known better, and the fact that she said “bye bye” made it sound like she was joking about stealing your daughter?! Did I read that correctly?! That is, quite frankly, creepy as fuck and fully deserving of a stronger reaction no matter how rudely it may have come across.at #7760
She did do a bye bye! That’s when I switched from weird to WTF. For the next hour or two I was thinking it was possibly a cultural misunderstanding as she was neither Japanese or American. But in the end, to me it’s not ok.
so directly saying don’t touch it’s ok? I’ve always wondered, my wife had said that people have openly tried to touch her face but I’ve not really encountered this, luckily. In the future, I won’t be so naive and more ready to say something directly. I hope I don’t see the mom again at the park!
thank you for your feedback!at #7761
Overall, I think that when you feel uncomfortable with the way something is or the way certain people are around your child, it’s worth trusting your instinct and going with your gut reaction, cultural differences and social niceties be damned. Let’s imagine if she were (heaven forbid) in actual trouble: you wouldn’t even hesitate to step in, right? I doubt your instincts would even let you stop and think about it. That instinct, to me at any rate, is worth listening to even when you don’t fully trust your own judgement as to whether or not you’re overreacting in that precise instant. Have faith in yourself! I know it’s hard if you’re a person who has a tendency to second-guess themselves, though…
The fact that you’re thinking about this and have even reached out to others to seek their opinions/get feedback shows what a conscientious and caring person you are! It’s unequivocally good to aim to be mindful of others, and take culture into consideration when it differs from what we’ve grown up with! I don’t by any means wish to imply that we should always jump in with all guns blazing when someone pushes boundaries a smidgeon more than we are used to (and I know it can feel even harder to speak up when we as foreigners already stand out more than usual and we don’t want to draw attention), BUT I also feel very strongly that when it comes to looking after our small children, we are their first line of defence until they are plenty old enough to stand up for themselves, and as such it’s okay to teach them by our own example to say – politely but firmly – “no” to people who are making them feel uncomfortable or behaving inappropriately (strangers or otherwise)!
Also, I’m still mad at that woman. Creepy ass.at #7766
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Pippa!
DD, you’re an amazing dad. I don’t know many who would take the time to ask advice about this situation, and this conversation will help foreign parents in Japan in the future, I hope!at #7769ElaineParticipant
Yeah, I find that an uncomfortable amount of strangers, especially older ladies, really want to touch our kid, especially his hair and especially in a pandemic it’s very HNGNNGNG b/c I don’t want to be the foreigner in the neighborhood who tells off people when they touch kids, but it really seems to be a Thing especially in the country, I see Japanese kids getting similar treatment. But yeah, I’ve gotta come up with some set phrases that encourage no touching ahah ^_^;;at #7773
It’s weird how people think it’s okay to just touch a stranger’s child. I was holding a friend’s baby the other day and a fellow foreigner that neither of us knew came up to me and started holding the baby’s hand. And then she wanted me to let her hold the baby?! Like sorry lady, I don’t know you, this is clearly not my baby, and I’m holding this 4-month-old baby for the first time after knowing the mom for almost three years?!at #7793
idk, I do also see the merit in “passing a baby round” in a sense. My cousin’s son Joe was constantly passed around from person to person in their church group and he was SO laidback, easygoing, just the sweetest and charming little tot (he’s an adult now, good grief where did the time go) – and it seemed that having him be accustomed to interacting with lots of different people when he was so small helped him be confident and not too scared/clingy? At least, that’s how everyone in my family portrayed it. BUT – big caveat here – that’s within a relatively confined setting (the known members of a regularly-attended church) among people who are all known and who have a kind of social obligation/commitment to being good to each other. The same is true of babies who grow up in extended families/closer-knit communities, with aunties and uncles and cousins and neighbours etc all taking part in child-rearing. I definitely don’t think it’s applicable to private societies like Japan has become! But then again… for the grandparent generation who probably grew up with extended family close by or more of a “community”-based childhood, I can see why they’d find it natural or wouldn’t think twice about interacting closely with someone else’s baby.
The same can’t be said of the younger Japanese generation, though, and even IF the woman in DD’s original post came from a more communal child-rearing culture that doesn’t excuse the “bye bye” or the attempted joke about trying to take her away. That’s unacceptable regardless 💀at #7812
I really appreciate what was said and the advice given. Since that day, I’ve better positioned myself with the surroundings so I can get between easier. I’m not going to hesitate next time and am not going to be shy about saying that’s close enough haha. Ours is still very young and needs our protection so I need to better remember that, regardless of the location.
I’m really grateful for everyone. Thank you!
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