In the essay, Bringing Up Children, the author, Ruth Benedict, explores two methodologies of
child rearing — American and Japanese. In examination of each culture’s techniques, we find that they are
in complete contrast of one another like their places on earth. Each system exemplifying one side of the
extremes. We are left to ponder which of the two ideals are superior. Which arrangement of life will
benefit the individual as well as society to a greater extent? The answer, however, lies not in the option
mentioned above. Rather, the ideal life structure for anyone to be risen by is that which combines the two
sides of the extremes thereby extracting the best of both worlds.
The American upbringing is described as a “U” by the author. In such circumstance, youth and
old age are the apexes of human constraint. The child is quickly taught through physical and psychological
means that their wishes are irrelevant to what their parents deem ?ideal’ for them. With the passing of time
into adolescence and eventually adulthood, freedom is gradually fueled until financial independence is
achieved. However, independence and free will are slowly siphoned during the first signs of mental
deterioration at old age. One leaves the earth as they entered it — under the care of others.
In sharp contrast, the Japanese mannerism of raising children is noted by Benedict as an upside
down ?U’; depicting the level of restraints one will experience throughout their life. The greatest amount of
freedom occurs at the genesis and decline of the human body. In between the two tips of man’s lifeline, a
psychological birdcage traps and stagnates the development of free human indulgence. Quite the reverse of
what is seen here in North America but nonetheless a valid one.
In any system, such as government, the wisest choice is a mixture between the two conventions of
the extremes. In North America, and especially Canada, government is neither totally towards a capitalistic
nor socialist, communist system. These governments have blended capitalistic with socialist, communist
ideas. These nations possess private ownership, a capitalistic idea yet also have public education, a
socialist, communist idea. Yet, could any of us imagine doing without either of these?
The ideal human lifeline should be arranged no different from government itself.A median of the
American and Japanese systems ? compromises of freedoms and restrictions throughout life. In the
beginning, it is important that guidelines be set for the child when he/she is exposed to their new world.
Firm disciplines are necessary to foster an understanding that they are not supreme in their new world.
However, it is equally important to allow for a certain amount of freedom to maintain a loving and
affectionate relationship. As one develops and matures into adulthood, independence should also be
increased. That is not to say total freedom is allotted. Given in abundance, the end product is usually
egotism and an inability to work and cooperate to others in the workplace. Certainly, humility must also
be an ingredient in the solution. The final stage of life should see certain liberties taken away from the
mentally deteriorated, yet the elderly deserve the right to !
decide their abilities and limitations. At this point in life of retirement, after decades of hard work, he/she
has earned the right to enjoy life without restraints.
A well balance between liberty and restriction throughout life is the key to a content, yet
responsible, individual. Neither the American nor Japanese pattern of life tends to be complete. Each
holds its strengths as well as weakness. In this world of stubborn and adamant behaviour, shouldn’t we all
look towards a compromise?