Japan Today

Video explores gap between ideals and reality for working mothers in Japan

By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

Get out the tissues because this short ad will make you appreciate family bonds all over again.

Juggling work and motherhood is a challenge for women in many countries, and a new ad from Japan explores the disparity between the concept of the ideal mother and the everyday reality that women often find themselves in.

Rather than leisurely skipping off to school, holding their children’s hands with smiles on their faces, these mothers find themselves shouting, rushing, and feeling angry in the mornings as they try to get everything done.

While they worry about not living up to the ideal image of the perfect mother, it turns out they should probably stop being too hard on themselves because their children see them very differently to the way they see themselves. Once these women watch their children talking about them, the waterworks start and we all feel like we should give ourselves a break from trying so hard to please everyone all the time. Which is fitting, seeing as this is an ad for Van Houten cocoa.

Titled “Gaps between ideal and reality for mothers”, take a look at the touching video below.

These children appreciate their mothers and some actually want to be like them when they’re older. It’s a beautiful reminder to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us; perhaps after we’ve mopped up our tears.

Source: YouTube/Van Houten Cocoa h/t Grape

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For once, a RocketNews story & vid making sense. Hats off to the moms who do this each weeday morning.

While they worry about not living up to the ideal image of the perfect mother

Although society has high expectations, forget about trying to be "perfect" and just do the best you can.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Thanks, hot chocolate company, for making me bawl like a baby over my 7-11 coffee.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Boring video in my opinion.

-17 ( +2 / -19 )

I can see how it works. But I feel it is a sad commentary on society. First of all it shows how mothers are forced into a crazy busy-ness by the demands of the society and the world of work. And they display and pass on this anxiety as normality to their children. It shows how, like is implanted in them from childhood, they feel inadequate to the task and their role. They will feel like this forever. And so will their kids. Then it shows how they need the meagre praise even from those who are essentially incapable of assessing their abilities to feel good about themselves. It is rather good as advertising manipulation but I am not sure it will get us to buy cocoa.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Working mothers (parents) in all countries will have the same insecurities, but it's a bigger issue in Japan because the whole society is not set up for both parents working full time, or for single parents who aren't supposed to exist in the first place.

As one example, we have three kids and in 2016 already, our kids have been told to stay home on eight weekdays due to other kids in the class having flu. It's called gakkyu heisa and is the school shutting down to stop the virus spreading. So that's eight days where we are suddenly expected to take time off to look after children who are not sick. No alternative childcare is provided. The reason this happens is that the overriding assumption is that one parent does not work. It's the same with school PTAs and residents associations. The expectation is that someone is always available on a weekday. In the West, most parents will be able to get a certain degree of time off when their child is sick. In Japan you need time off when your child is sick, when their classmates are sick, when the school wants to you attend a PTA meeting on a weekday afternoon, when there is a sankanbi (lesson viewing) or koudankai (informal chat about the class), when there is music festival, .... In short, the whole system is not set up for both parents working full time. Every family is expected to include a housewife.

The above problem is of course exacerbated by Japan's many black and grey employers where employees cannot take time off. Which makes the various practices, gakkyu heisa in particular, cruel on working parents.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Where were the dads in this video? Conspicuously absent. Aside from a back-of-the-head shot of one toward the very end, not one — just the silently suffering moms as dad lives the life of Riley. No wonder Japanese moms are always "feeling angry," as the article notes.

This video sends the message that in Japan's two-income families mom shoulders ALL the burdens while dad is completely out of the picture (literally and figuratively). I know this may be an accurate portrayal in many cases, but definitely not in most cases in this day and age of dual breadwinners, even in Japan.

This video is a very misleading portrayal. Back when my children were in Japanese hoikuen (day care), I got them fed and dressed in the morning, took them to hoikuen, and picked them up at the end of the day far more often than my wife did, which meant that I as the gaijin was the one who had to duck out in the middle of the time-wasting, all-hands-on past 6pm meetings that are ubiquitous in Japan, so that my wife could show her dedication and stay on the job. Although I played that role more than any of the Japanese dads, I did see many Japanese dads also dropping off and picking up their children at daycare. This video gives an unfair portrayal to say the least.

6 ( +9 / -3 )


Been there, done that... as a single parent.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

touching, it is hard especially if raised by single parent. it is normal to question yourself if you raised your kid in a loving and happy environment.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Note to self….

Must study Japanese more!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was like "I don't have any children, but yea, let's just watch the video", and it almost got me to cry.lol

3 ( +3 / -0 )

damn cutting these onions make my eyes water!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Cool. More feel-good fodder. Not to detract from the weepy-ness of this silly bit of self-serving-back-patting but I would certainly appreciate a follow-up video concerning the fathers who have raised multiple children while working without the benefit of a cocoa-drinking mom...

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

damn cutting these onions make my eyes water!

Get a sharper knife.....(me too!)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This video gives an unfair portrayal to say the least.

No, It doesnt. YOU may have been lucky enough to be able to take time off work to drop off your kids, pick them up, and duck out of those meetings (which yes, I agree, are an insane waste of time!). But for the vast majority of women married to Japanese men (which is what this is all about) this IS the reality.

Your wife is a lucky woman. My husband picked up my kids maybe a handful of times in about 6 years of daycare, and only then because I was in hospital and his mother hadnt yet arrived to take over for him.

The dads I knew picking up kids from daycare were either shift workers (doctors, mostly) or unemployed stay at home dads. Some would fake it. There was one guy who I knew had lost his job months before but still turned up every day in a suit and briefcase. He killed himself a few months later.

But really, it is the Japanese companies that put the pressure on these women, bully them AND get away with it. Women feel the same pressures in the UK, in Australia, and here in the US (I've worked in all 3 places) but the unique difference is for the most part, companies are way more flexible and understanding.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

i watched this video 4 times in different days, tear came down uncontrolled each time. i am happy for these kids and moms that they got each other.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sensato, read Nathalie's post and then reread, reread, reread... You are one of the very few and very lucky. As are you wife and kids.

Pretty much every FT working woman I know who is married to a Japanese man, this IS the reality. Those with foreign husbands have a heck of a lot more support because let be honest, companies here expect a lot less hours from foreigm men compares to Japanese men.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I got teary and the kids are adorable. But are the dads waking the kids up, making their breakfast, rushing them to school in equal time? Or is it that the dads work much longer hours (earlier and later) and are kinda out of the picture when it comes to that stuff?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan's unsung heroes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The problem is always the long hours of work. 8-10h + commuting is just to much. For many, life-work balance is far from levels allowing people to actually 'live'. No surprise people don't want to (cannot) have children, especially in Japan. More jobs (still 'full time', just with a proportionally lower pay) should be offered in a 6h/day format.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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