ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of childbirth and the experience of fatherhood on Japanese men in Japan and a foreign country. Descriptive phenomenology was used to study a total of 14 Japanese men who attended childbirth and experienced parenting in the United States and Japan. The Colaizzi method of data analysis was used to analyze responses to open-ended questions. Responses to these questions showed several similarities between the two groups of men. First, men in both countries felt closer to with their spouses having gone through the experience of childbirth together. Second, both groups nevertheless recognized a strong bond between mother and the baby, leading them to feel at times isolated. Third, both groups were concerned about their wives’ emotional swings during pregnancy and child rearing. Finally, both groups were more focused on their wives and babies than themselves. There were also several interesting differences. Japanese men who were living in Hawaii were more involved in taking care of their children and in helping with household chores than those living in Japan. This was due to living in a more family-oriented society, as well as a result of limited support from their extended families back in Japan. A result of spending more time with their wives and babies was that Japanese men in the United States understood more fully the stress of childcare. On the other hand, due to Japan’s work-oriented society, men in Japan relied more on support from their extended families, leaving them less time with their wives and children. This study clearly shows that social support systems alter gender roles and behavior, leading to significant differences in the experience of parenthood in Japan and a foreign country.
Cite this paper
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