Photo: Pakutaso
lifestyle

Japanese mom’s don’t-touch-my-baby-stroller sign stirs up debate

20 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In Japan, you can often spot women with a “key holder” (or, more accurately, a small plastic placard strap) attached to their bag, showing an illustration of a baby. This is an indicator that the woman is pregnant, even if she’s not visibly showing yet, and by extension a silent request for use of priority seats on trains or other forms of consideration and understanding.

However, a woman in Saitama Prefecture has a baby-illustration key holder that she only started using after the birth of her child, as a way of telling people not to touch her boy.

In Japan, it’s customary for parents to keep their newborn babies in the house for the first several weeks after coming home from the hospital. After “Ai,” as the mother goes by in the video interview above, started taking her son for walks in the neighborhood though, when he was around three months old, she experienced a problem. “Elderly people would come up to us and say ‘He’s so cute!’ and then, without asking if it was OK, they’d touch his feet.”

After reading on Twitter about other mothers who were dealing with the same sort of situation, Ai decided to make a placard that says “Don’t touch” and has a drawing of a hand reaching towards a distressed looking infant, who has his forearms crossed into an X, the Japanese gesture for “no/don’t.” Ai now clips the placard to her stroller when she’s out with her son, as an in-advance request to strangers to refrain from pats, pinches, and the like.

The idea has proven pretty divisive among online commenters, in part because it touches on (no pun intended) a number of Japanese cultural values. First off, Japan, for the most part, isn’t very big on physical displays of affection, even of the platonic sort like a hug between friends or a pat on the back from a coworker. Most Japanese people would agree that it’s poor manners to touch someone you don’t know, including a baby, so many commenters can sympathize with Ai’s desire to take preventive action.

On the other hand, Japanese culture also has a lot of respect for the elderly, and a general attitude that kids can learn a lot from interacting with people from their grandparents’ generation. A strong sense of community is also a Japanese cultural ideal, as is the idea that early childhood is one of the few times in life when it’s absolutely OK to be showered with affection, before the pressures of school and work make diligent effort a daily requirement.

With all of those concepts floating around in the cultural background, plus hygiene concerns during the ongoing pandemic, reactions to Ai’s “Don’t touch” placard have been all over the board, with comments on Twitter and YouTube including:

“We’ve gone from worrying about our kids being shy around people they don’t know to worrying if they aren’t shying away.”

“Sign of the times. Seems like we’ve lost something important. I understand the mother’s feelings, but still, this makes me sad.”

“The world is weird these days.”

“I can understand where the mom is coming from, and also how the elderly people feel. But thinking logically, no matter how cute you might think a baby is [you shouldn’t touch it without permission].”

“It’s got to be rough having a bunch of people you don’t know touch you.”

“It’d be OK if they’d just ask ‘Can I touch your baby?’”

“Can’t help wondering if the hands of the people touching the baby are clean.”

“Consent is always required for touching!”

Adding another wrinkle to the situation is a recent raised awareness in Japan that some mothers who are out and about with children might need a hand lifting a stroller onto or off the train or getting a shopping bag up onto the parcel shelf. When asked by the interviewer if a “don’t touch my baby” sign will make people less likely to offer assistance in such situations, Ai replies “I think there will be times when I want someone’s help, and when that happens, I’ll ask them for it. [Otherwise] I’d like people to take a step back and [limit themselves to] watch[ing] over us.”

Further complicating the debate is the fact that touching a stranger’s baby is already something that most people in Japan refrain from doing, causing some to see the placard as needlessly standoffish and/or ineffective; most people wouldn’t be trying to touch the baby anyway, and those who do aren’t likely to notice or pay attention to the sign, they say. A few people even expressed skepticism that the soft, pastel colors of the sign will be noticeable to the elderly people Ai wants to be aware of it.

Still, the placard seems to be having the desired effect, since Ai is continuing to use it, so anyone who sees it, or the kid shown in the video, should keep their hands to themselves.

Source: Asatele News via Yahoo! Japan NewsANNnewsCHTwitter

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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-- Train company asks parents with baby strollers to be polite to other passengers, sparks backlash

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Next they will all be doing it and it'll be the new normal

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Good for Japanese Moms . . . protecting their kids!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

I'm from the UK and have a baby and a kid in Japan and totally agree with this lady. People come up and touch my kids faces all the time without asking - this is not cool in normal circumstances - but during a pandemic, just rude and invasive. If I had the nerve I'd do it right back at them, see how they like having their cheek pulled suddenly without warning or permission, but I'm fairly sure that would land me in trouble!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Just wrap your kids up in even more cotton wool...

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

“It’d be OK if they’d just ask ‘Can I touch your baby?’”

Correct.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

It's comes down to manners! If you want to do something such as touching the baby for instance, ask for permission first! Just show a bit if decorum please. We have covid going around so it is best to avoid touching where possible.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The sign may seem exaggerated to some people, but if the mother that is using it felt the need to put it in the stroller is very likely she had negative experiences that made it necessary.

As described, the problem is not a mother that want to keep her baby untouched, but people that do not even ask before doing it. Basic manners would make the sign unnecessary. 

The part where the mother may not get volunteers to help with the stroller is of course worth considering, but anybody timid enough to struggle asking for help when needed is not likely to be using such direct and confrontative sign in the first place anyway.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sounds like this must be Tokyo. The loneliest crowded place in the world.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Understandable. I don't have a kid but from what I've heard and seen, a lot of moms are feeling uncomfortable strangers coming up to them and touch their baby without asking especially some people seem to feel entitled to do so and gets mad at moms if they refused.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This si great news, in fact it would be better if all kids wore burkas, do not touch, do not see. Also maintain 2 meters distance of course in case of viruses.

Modern anti social world, where madness, entitlement and rudeness reign supreme

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

 a placard that says “Don’t touch”

The Japanese kind of says it a little gentler.

The sign may seem exaggerated to some people, but if the mother that is using it felt the need to put it in the stroller is very likely she had negative experiences that made it necessary.

The article clearly states the reason why the mother is using the sign.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The article clearly states the reason why the mother is using the sign.

Which does nothing to contradict the text you quoted, the whole point is that personal experiences (or lack of them) can make people fail to understand the reasons the mother expressed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

When I was young child in my pram an old witch with warts on her face popped her head in and I just screamed. Never recovered.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe I wouldn't mind elderly people kindly talking and even touching my baby with care as long as I'm not in hurry, because in Japan, I don't have to worry about kidnapping, however, I agree with her opinion COVID-wise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wallace

Sounds like my great aunt Mildred, was it in London by any chance?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When the child is an adult, he will wear a placard "Don't touch me." These fears will last a lifetime.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

falseflagsteve

no!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Personally, even when dog approaches me I always ask the owner may I pet it as a common courtesy. The least you could do is ask to touch baby.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When I was young child in my pram an old witch with warts on her face popped her head in and just screamed.

Wow. You must have really scarred her for life. I wonder what she saw that gave her such a fright.

Never recovered.

Oh, did she succumb to a heart attack or something?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Completely over sensitive and unnecessary. Society has gone bonkers. Quit acting like robots and let’s relax and live a little.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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