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Parents actively seeking mates for their single offspring

32 Comments

Marriage, once taken pretty nearly for granted, is now one lifestyle choice among many. Economically poorer ages than the present one saw most people marrying regardless.

Today, many young people cite unsatisfactory financial prospects as a reason for remaining single. As of 2010, 34.6% of Japanese men and 22.2% of women in their late 30s were unmarried. That may be fine with them; it is not fine with their parents.

Parents tend to want to see their children settled. What can they do with grown children who have other ideas? Those who reflexively respond “Not a damn thing” are wrong. On the contrary, reports Shukan Post (June 26), parents lately are active as never before in the marriage market, seeking mates for their adult single offspring – with or without their knowledge or approval.

“Omiai” is the traditional term for the arranged first meeting of prospective marriage partners. More recently, “gokon” has taken over – mass parties organized by private and civic organizations to bring singles together. Now we are seeing the emergence of “parents’ omiai” and “parents’ gokon.” Parents come with photos and written descriptions of their marriageable children and pass them around. If the parents hit it off, so might the children. Wedding bells might ring yet, gladdening the hearts of parents in despair of ever hearing them.

Pioneer in the field is a Sapporo marriage consultancy called Office Ann, whose first parents’ omiai was held in November 2000. Since then they’ve gone national, with more than 160 events attended by 15,000-odd parents. Roughly half of them are mothers alone; 20% are fathers alone. The remaining 30% come as couples. Cost? Around 15,000 yen per person in Tokyo, closer to 10,000 yen in smaller centers.

How many get what they come for? “I couldn’t say precisely, but I would guess around 20%,” says Office Ann director Michiko Saito.

That sounds suspiciously high to Shukan Post. Another question, not considered here, would be how many of the children successfully married in this fashion will be thanking their parents, or cursing them, five or 10 years down the road. Be that as it may, some heart-warming stories do emerge, among them this one of a father aged 80 who, afraid that his shy 48-year-old son would never taste the joys of matrimony, attended a parents’ omiai in Osaka. Beginner’s luck? Maybe. Anyway, he met the parents of a 38-year-old woman, and the young people hit it off. So far – four years later – they are living happily ever after. May it continue.

“The important thing,” advises Saito, “is to not have an exaggerated estimation of your own child’s virtues. Keep your expectations within bounds. Children tend to demand a good academic record, perfect body, beautiful face. Realistically speaking, there’s no point in laying down conditions that aren’t likely to be met. Parents should say to their children, ‘Character is the most important thing. Be satisfied with someone you’ll be able to feel comfortable with.’”

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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This is nothing new, just putting a new look on an old idea.

(But in this day and age, it's a sad, sad, statement about the inability of supposed "adults" to communicate and find partners on their own. I don't blame many of the women for this either. If I was a woman here in Japan there is no way in hell that I would date, let alone marry, a lot of the guys I see walking around.........)

10 ( +12 / -2 )

That's cool by me too, but at least leave home!

It's your assumption that parents want the kids to leave the house. Some do, but really many parents (and not only in Japan) want children to stay with them forever. There are still many 2/3 generation households (the children being single, married, divorced) in my neighborhood and if you suggested them that their kids should move out, they'd fall on the floor out of surprise : "What ? And I'd become what, me ?". Also, as we know there are people that would prefer their spouse to go away, and their kid(s) to stay as a kind of "spouse".

Maybe they are more concerned with who is going to look after them when they (the parents) are become old.

Exactly. That was the reason for having kids and also for marrying a stable paycheck and the attached pension. Then they calculate again : "Oh sh... I won't have enough nenkin, I'm starting to need more help to serve me while my single kid is out working...".

one of a father aged 80 who, afraid that his shy 48-year-old son would never taste the joys of matrimony

If the son stays single, the chances he'll put the aging parent(s) in a home are so much higher than if he can find a daugher-in-law.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Parents actively seeking mates for their single offspring

This is not news. They have been doing this for centuries here, if not millennia.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think if I had a 48 year old son still at home I'd be doing everything humanely possible to move him on to an adult life with a partner and would have been trying to do so for the previous 25 years.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Maybe they are more concerned with who is going to look after them when they (the parents) are become old. With the worries over pensions, healthcare and the economic future of Japan, a stable family unit would be very appealing to them.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I know somebody who's about 48 and single and still at his parents' home, but that's because as the youngest he ended up looking after his elderly mother until she died, and living in a rural area he didn't have much chance to meet up with anybody - and this is in the UK, so it's not a particularly Japanese phenomenon. He's tried the usual distance dating methods, but there isn't much around for late-40's life-time singletons.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I believe it's better not to be married that just doing it for your parents, who are anyway pressuring you for their own (sometimes selfish) reasons. And while I agree with last sentence in the article "Character is the most important thing. Be satisfied with someone you’ll be able to feel comfortable with." I think it's actually the hardest thing to achieve.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I would be happy if my parents were actively involved in my life such as reported here. As it stands, they treat me like a stranger who just happens to be their offspring. I have reservations about marriage, but at 30 I am loathing this single life.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Dalkrin - I read your past posts; you have bewailed your single loner's life before -and once, ironically, state that you wouldn't wish to give up sex for marriage, as the former is more important to you...

You wish your parents would get more involved, but what steps have you yourself taken to get yourself out of a situation you are unhappy with? I wonder.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There's a difference between being concerned for one's offspring and forcing your will on them. Nothing wrong with a parent trying to set their kid up, so long as the kid is receptive to it. This is certainly not unique to Japanese culture. There are PLENTY of examples of this kind of thing in Western culture as well, where mom sets up her son/daughter with the son/daughter of a dear friend and insists they at least give it a try, etc., and at times it works out (obviously other times it does not if the single party even relents and goes on the date). That said there is a line. It's not the caste system or a nation where a parent or parents can decide without your permission and that's that.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Thanks for your reply. I know I do tend to wail on in an unseemly manner, but I am determined to use your constructive criticism to better my lot. Part of the reason I am drawn to this Japanese cultural prism is that I can identify with the social anxiety displayed in such extreme forms as the Hikkikomori phenomenon. As for me, I am fortunate to be able to say I live independently, pursue my own career successfully, and actively travel to enrich my outlook on life. I simply must bide my time and keep myself occupied while exercising patience.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yes, just what Japan needs. MORE parents doing everything for their kids. Have the parents once stopped to think why they have raised a child who a) can't be bothered to get married and flee the home or b) has the social skills of a wet dishrag?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who chooses to be single and parents should butt out of their personal lives.

That's cool by me too, but at least leave home!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Unsatisfactory financial prospects? Typical rich-country mentality at work here. Most of these people are probably too busy thinking about themselves and money and believing that having lots of it is what will make them happy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The article doesn't say that the 48 year old was living with the father. And even if he was, it doesn't mean he's moving out because he got married.

The 48 year old probably wanted to get married but he was chronically shy and couldn't meet women. He was the real life 40-year-old-virgin. I don't see a problem with the father helping him out. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who chooses to be single and parents should butt out of their personal lives.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Once the fledging period is over, it's time to leave the nest.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My mother has started doing this to me. She was not happy when I told her she's not getting grandchildren. I don't want to have a kid, but if it happens, it happens. Why do parents keep insisting on prying into our love lives? If we want to be married, we will eventually. If we want to have children, we will eventually. If we want your help, we'll call. Stop trying to dictate our lives. Your job is over.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think if I had a 48 year old son still at home I'd be doing everything humanely possible to move him on to an adult life with a partner and would have been trying to do so for the previous 25 years. If I had a 48 year old son still at home, and one who wouldn't leave, one of two things would happen, I'd be stark raving mad, or more than likely I would move out of the house to get away from him! Pathetic does not being to describe the situation.

Have you ever thought that in some cases - maybe the case of a "single parent" who cannot find a good job - it's actually the parent who is living in son's home ? Should he kick the parent out ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would never do that to both my sons, however I would encourage the benefits of having a family to love of your own..wife and children to care and to learn more of the importance of selfless love.. Without this simple traits bestowed upon them unsuccessfully, I'd feel I'd fail myself in rearing good responsible kids. This are things money can't buy..so whether you have money, or you're a corporate but still unable to have this traits to start a family, what a waste it wld be...to grow old alone and just getting everything you want instead of being a giving reprint sometimes...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I thought an interesting aspect was the percentages of parents doing this who were single parents as opposed to couples. In Korea and China, to be a child of divorced parents or single parents is a stigma. Most of the people who are from such families typically end up marrying foreigners (lots of European and American women married to Korean or Chinese guys). Is there something similar to this in Japan (in addition to people not wanting to get married)?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

SimondB: I think if I had a 48 year old son still at home I'd be doing everything humanely possible to move him on to an adult life with a partner and would have been trying to do so for the previous 25 years.

If you had a 48-year old son still at home, whatever you'd been doing to get rid of him all those previous 25 years clearly hadn't been working. Just throw him out!

Mocheake: Unsatisfactory financial prospects? Typical rich-country mentality at work here.

As someone whose spouse is from a "poor country" I can tell you that this is definitely a mentality not confined to rich countries. People from poor countries are just as, if not more, worried about marrying someone with financial prospects as people from rich countries. Contrary to what politicians might try to convince us, not too many people like to repeat the cycle of poverty if given the chance to get out of it. And who doesn't want to see their kid do better if possible?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

“The important thing,” advises Saito, “is to not have an exaggerated estimation of your own child’s virtues. Keep your expectations within bounds. Children tend to demand a good academic record, perfect body, beautiful face. Realistically speaking, there’s no point in laying down conditions that aren’t likely to be met. Parents should say to their children, ‘Character is the most important thing. Be satisfied with someone you’ll be able to feel comfortable with.’”

Blame the media and commercials for this. In the long run, character is definitely more important than looks. Character demonstrates a person's real worth. Unfortunately, I still hear women at work saying that they want a guy who is rich, tall with muscles. Nothing wrong with that, but one has to judge a person for his/her talents, personality, and respect towards another.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Before you get married, you must first divorce.

At least it seemed that way for my family and friends when it finally happened to me. They hate her. I love her.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marriage rocks & all eligible singles should become rockers for life!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That sounds suspiciously high to Shukan Post.

20%? Yeah that's absurdly high when you consider that this is basically blind dates set up with who YOUR PARENTS think would be a good match for you. Consider how often blind dates set up by YOUR FRIENDS (who probably know your personality a bit better than your parents do by now) end up in a match.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's their (children's ) life not parents' life. it's better to leave them alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When current Emperor was Crown Prince, lonely Prince (too much tutoring of his family history by scholars every day), he enjoyed Tennis. Of cause in a very exclusive club of royal, noble extremely rich people's) and fell in love with his Empress Michiko. Rumors were all over in Japan but Mr. and Mrs. Shoda always said "Messo-mo-nai. We are only commoners" . Later when Showa Emperor wanted them to marry, we used to Joke Only Crown Prince falls inn love and propose to marry. For generations, Japan had customs of parents arranged marriage. Feudal time, little daughters of weak lords were married to little sons of Shogun or opposing lords. Likewise, follow the leader custom. Mitzi boom created in Japan., then. So, parents arranging custom is coming back to Japan now?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm a 25 year-old, single, foreigner and I have an army of middle-aged women trying to find me a wife, mainly from their family or friends. When I tell them I have no plans on ever getting married, their eyes get as big as dinner plates, and the berate me until I leave the room. Not that I mind getting hooked up with attractive, young ladies, it's just... I'm not going to get married, ever, as far as I'm concerned. I feel like I'm leading them on from the moment I say hello! Also, the idea of spending my money on baby food instead of car parts... I just can't!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"the young people hit it off" - he's 48!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think if I had a 48 year old son still at home I'd be doing everything humanely possible to move him on to an adult life with a partner and would have been trying to do so for the previous 25 years.

If I had a 48 year old son still at home, and one who wouldn't leave, one of two things would happen, I'd be stark raving mad, or more than likely I would move out of the house to get away from him!

Pathetic does not being to describe the situation.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Getting married sucks. Don't do it!!!!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

how depressing. If my Mom did that I would never speak to her again. However, she never would.

These are monster parents to the extreme,

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

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