parents

Childhood Influences on Hideyoshi and Ddol Bok

Mother with children

Mother with children

In most western cultures today, a child’s only job is to play and learn about the world around him. However, this is not the case in the epic novel, Taiko, by Eiji Yoshikawa, and in a number of episodes of the Korean television drama, Tree with Deep Roots. In both of these mediums, one can identify the need for discipline and respect within the family or community.

Hideyoshi, the main character in the novel, and Ddol Bok, an important character in the Korean television series, both grow up to be respectable soldiers. And yet, due to their impulsivity as children, it is a surprise to everyone when they succeed as adults. Their success later in life is a direct result of the influence their parents have had on them.

Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa

Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa

 

The epic novel, Taiko, by Eiji Yoshikawa, explicitly shows how a young Hideyoshi who, while living in Japan during the feudal era, is thought to be an ungrateful and troublesome child. Because, in Japanese culture, it is the duty of the sons to continue the family lineage in a proper way, the young Hideyoshi worries his parents (Kumagai 138). Those who know him call him “monkey,” an animal often thought to be of a mischievous nature, consistently see him as that: a child up to no good (Yoshikawa 2). And, at first, he lives up to his name. In the beginning of the novel, Hideyoshi is constantly getting in trouble whether it be for fighting with his sister or getting fired from a job. However, a change slowly comes over Hideyoshi, and it is because of the parental figures in his life that he is able to change.

One man who is very important to Hideyoshi is his father, Yaemon; and therefore it is no surprise that he is part of the reason for Hideyoshi’s success as an adult. Yaemon is described as a man who was once a low-ranking samurai, or a “foot soldier.” Though he was not a samurai, or a high-ranking one for long, due to an injury that left him crippled. Hideyoshi looked up to his father immensely. Despite his discourteous actions toward his mother and sister, he always respects his father, addressing him as “sir” (Yoshikawa 9). As a young six-year-old boy, he wants to grow up to be a samurai like his father. Hideyoshi dreams of becoming a samurai when he grows up and his father shares this dream: “Hiyoshi was his only son, and Yaemon rested impossible hopes in him” (Yoshikawa 10). It is this influence from his father that helps Hideyoshi to grow up to be the respected samurai he was. However, while his father encourages him, allowing him to play with a sword, Hideyoshi’s fervor worries his mother.

Hideyoshi’s mother, Onaka, has helped Hideyoshi to recognize the importance of family later in his life. While she believes her son can help to restore the family name, does not wish for Hideyoshi to follow in the footsteps of his father: “No matter what my husband says, Hiyoshi is not going to become a samurai, she resolved” (Yoshikawa 7). But because her authority in the house decreases not only as Hideyoshi grows older but also when she remarries, he does not honor her wishes. As a child, Hideyoshi received numerous beatings from his stepfather. One time, “Hiyoshi’s mother tried to stop him,” but Hideyoshi’s stepfather, Chikuami, simply yelled at her and she began to cry (Yoshikawa 13). Because Hideyoshi’s mother was unable to protect him as a child, he feels the need to protect her when he grows up, asking his wife to take of Onaka and insisting that Onaka move to live closer to him.

The last parental figure that influences Hideyoshi when he grows up is his stepfather, and the way he does so is in direct relation to Hideyoshi’s strong work ethic. Even though, Hideyoshi’s mother remarries after his father dies, in Japanese culture that does not mean the two have a new family (Isono 39). Hideyoshi’s dislike for his stepfather is clear, and, in the text, it is frequently mentioned that Chikuami drinks a lot, “Chikuami had grown tired of trying to wipe out their poverty. He sat around drinking sake,” (Yoshikawa 20). His stepfather’s drinking has so much of a influence on Hideyoshi that when he becomes an adult and begins drinking sake himself, he is constantly wary of how much he drinks for fear of turning into his stepfather. Chikuami, however, also helps to teach Hideyoshi to work hard, “Chikuami drove Hiyoshi hard. But after being sent home from the temple, he worked hard, as if he had come back a different person” (Yoshikawa 21). This work ethic can later be seen in Hideyoshi when he rises through the ranks under Nobunaga and eventually takes control himself.

Ddol Bok, a character in the television series, Tree with Deep Roots, can be described as an impulsive and undisciplined child, similarly to a young Hideyoshi. In terms of family in Korea, sons have been thought to bring good fortune (Chin 54). However, Ddol Bok’s impulsivity as seen through his interactions with the adults and other children in his life, lead many in his life to believe otherwise. Despite a lack of belief in Ddol Bok, when we meet the grown up Ddol Bok, who now goes by Chae-Yoon, we see that he has since learned to control those impulses and think rationally. Like Hideyoshi, this change is a result of parental influence.

Ddol Bok interrogating another child

Ddol Bok interrogating another child

Ddol Bok’s preference for impulsivity is apparent the first time we meet him. In episode one, he is beating a child much bigger than himself (Yoo 1). Immediately, as viewers, we wonder what happened to spur this attack. While we do not receive the answer to our question, we are able to assume that despite Ddol Bok’s size, the other children are afraid of him mostly due to their unwillingness to intervene and the larger boy’s inability to fight back. We then find out that the reason Ddol Bok is attacking the larger boy is to learn who made fun of his father (Yoo 1). While we are thrown into the middle of the scene rather than starting as the beginning, based on Ddol Bok’s aggressiveness, we can assume that he did not ask the other kids respectfully first and instead immediately resorted to aggressive means, showing his impulsivity. Ddol Bok’s “act first, think later” attitude can even been seen in his interactions with the adults in his life.

Ddol Bok is fiercely protective of his family, as seen in his reaction to hearing someone made fun of his father. Despite his inability to control himself, his protectiveness can be tied to his success as a soldier later in life. In a scene in episode one, we meet Ddol Bok’s father who is being picked on by the other slaves. Ddol Bok rushes in and immediately begins beating the man who was putting makeup on his father, tackling him to the ground and punching him repeatedly, even though the man is clearly many years Ddol Bok’s senior (Yoo 1). Though the man was wrong to make fun of Ddol Bok’s father, Ddol Bok shows his impulsivity by storming into the scene and attacking the man without asking any questions. When the fight is broken up by a master, who demands an explanation, Ddol Bok shows restraint for the first time and is able to properly explain why he was beating the other man (Yoo 1). However, that restraint does not last, for one wrong comment from the man who put makeup on his father and Ddol Bok is once again attacking him, showing his impulsivity. Despite Ddol Bok’s lack of restraint as a child, as viewers, we witness an clear change in him as an adult due to his father’s influence.

In the first episode of the television series,we see Ddol Bok’s change from impulsive child to calculating adult. We quickly learn that Ddol Bok, or Chae-Yoon, has a desire to kill the king and is attempting to find the best way to do so (Yoo 1). In one scene, we witness Chae-Yoon come across the king in what appears to be a stroke of luck. Based on what we know of the young Ddol Bok, it would not have been surprising to see Chae-Yoon attack the king and strike him down. However, Chae-Yoon stops and thinks about the probability of his success, commenting how he’d have an 80 percent chance of success, or 70, and so on, ultimately concluding that he would be unable to kill the king in that instant due to the arrival of his guard (Yoo 1). This moment of reflection contrasts what we have seen of Ddol Bok as a child. The reason for this moment of reflection is not only because he knows he will only get one chance to get revenge for his father, but also because he sought a master to teach him how to fight. Chae-Yoon deeply respects this master and desires to use his teachings properly; in other words he does not wish to mess up when he kills the king.  The clip below shows how Chae-Yoon does not act on impulse, but rather takes time to think about his actions.

Both Hideyoshi and Ddol Bok could be described as impulsive and troublesome children. However, they grow up to be successful. The reason for their success is because of the adults in their lives, such as Yaemon, Onaka, Chikuami, Ddol Bok’s father, and Ddol Bok’s master. Whether these adults served as an example of who the children wanted to become or of who they didn’t want to become, or even a reminder of their goals in life, each of them greatly influenced the young Hideyoshi and Chae-Yoon.

 

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Bibliography

Chin, Meejung, et al. “Family Policy in South Korea: Development, Current Status, and Challenges.” Journal of Child and Family Studies (2012): 53-64.
Isono, Fujiko. “The Family and Women in Japan.” The Sociological Review (2011): 39-54.
Kumagai, Fumie. “Families in Japan: Beliefs and Realities.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 12.1 (1995): 135-163.
“Episode 1.” Tree with Deep Roots. Dir. Jang Tae Yoo. 2011.
Yoshikawa, Eiji. Taiko. New York: Kodansha, 2012.

Parental Influence on Childhood in Taiko

The epic novel, Taiko, by Eiji Yoshikawa, explicitly shows how a young Hideyoshi, who lives in Japan during the feudal era, is treated and what is expected of him.  Hideyoshi’s actions as a child  stem from his experiences with his father, mother, and stepfather who provide a foundation for who he will grow up to be.

Hideyoshi’s father, Yaemon, is described as a man who was once a low-ranking samurai, or a “foot soldier.”  Though he was not a samurai, or a high-ranking one for long,  due to an injury that left him crippled. Hideyoshi looked up to his father immensely.  Despite his discourteous actions toward his mother and sister, he always respects his father, addressing him as “sir” (Yoshikawa 9).  As a young six-year-old boy, he wants to grow up to be a samurai like his father.  Hideyoshi dreams of becoming a samurai when he grows up and his father shares this dream: “Hiyoshi was his only son, and Yaemon rested impossible hopes in him” (Yoshikawa 10).  It is this influence from his father that helps Hideyoshi to grow up to be the respected samurai he was.  However, while his father encourages him, allowing him to play with a sword, Hideyoshi’s fervor worries his mother.

Hideyoshi’s mother, Onaka, while she believes her son can help to restore the family name, does not wish for Hideyoshi to follow in the footsteps of his father: “No matter what my husband says, Hiyoshi is not going to become a samurai, she resolved” (Yoshikawa 7).  But because her authority in the house decreases not only as Hideyoshi grows older but also when she remarries, he does not honor her wishes.  As a child, Hideyoshi received numerous beatings from his stepfather.  One time, “Hiyoshi’s mother tried to stop him,” but Hideyoshi’s stepfather, Chikuami, simply yelled at her and she began to cry (Yoshikawa 13).  Because Hideyoshi’s mother was unable to protect him as a child, he feels the need to protect her when he grows up, asking his wife to take of Onaka and insisting that Onaka move to live closer to him.

The last parental figure that influences Hideyoshi when he grows up is his stepfather.  In the text, it is frequently mentioned that Chikuami drinks a lot, “Chikuami had grown tired of trying to wipe out their poverty.  He sat around drinking sake,” (Yoshikawa 20).  His stepfather’s drinking has so much of a influence on Hideyoshi that when he becomes an adult and begins drinking sake himself, he is constantly wary of how much he drinks for fear of turning into his stepfather.  Chikuami, however, also helps to teach Hideyoshi to work hard, “Chikuami drove Hiyoshi hard.  But after being sent home from the temple, he worked hard, as if he had come back a different person” (Yoshikawa 21).  This work ethic can later be seen in Hideyoshi when he rises through the ranks under Nobunaga.

The adults, specifically Yaemon, Onaka, and Chikuami, in Hideyoshi’s childhood helped to shape the man he would grow up to be.  Whether they served as an example of who he wanted to become or of who he didn’t want to become, each of them greatly influenced the young Hideyoshi.

Sources:

Yoshikawa, Eiji. Taiko. New York: Kodansha, 2012.

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Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

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More and more children are becoming obese… What’s the reason?

The spike in weight gain that the current generation of children is experiencing is the fault of parents because they influence what their children eat, how often they exercise, and what values they have.

The life expectancy of each consecutive generation has been steadily climbing upward, until now. In some areas, up to a third of children are obese and the majority of them will grow into obese adults, which will lead to younger deaths. But do we blame our current society for making it easy to be inactive or making unhealthy food also the cheapest, most convenient food? No. Parents are those who should care the most about their child’s quality of life and life expectancy but recent studies show how detrimental parent’s actions can be to their children’s health.

Obesity in a child is directly linked to how he was raised because from a child’s first breath to the moment he reaches independence, parents are responsible for developing his eating habits. It is important to begin fostering proper nutrition early because people develop their food preferences and their general patterns of eating early on in childhood. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are exposed repeatedly early on in life (Lindsay 171). Parents need to realize that the foods and drinks their children are exposed to will remain embedded in their subconscious and affect their likelihood of being healthy.

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Monitoring food choices is not only important in the first few years but parents also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy household until the child leaves the nest. In order to prevent weight gain, parents should limit the times they go out to dinner or order fast food and pizza. Unhealthy food should be limited and healthy low calorie snacks should be made readily available to kids of all ages. When kids come to the age where they have to eat meals at school, parents can pack them a healthy nutritious lunch rather than the convenient route of handing them 5 dollars and hoping they don’t spend it all on cookies.

Similarly to their responsibility to foster good nutrition, parents need to promote physical activity in their child’s life. Some may assume that it is part of the child’s personality, their natural likes and dislikes, if they enjoy being active. This is proven false by studies that show children are more likely to be active if their parents are (O’dea 300). Young children don’t know what exercise is or how to be active so they are fully relying on the responsible adults in their lives to promote safe opportunities for physical activity (Hills 54).

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Parents who are active are more likely to have kids that are active as well.

If physical activity doesn’t seem like a factor in preventing obesity, read into the many studies that prove “physical activity is associated with lowering risks of accelerated weight gain and excess adiposity among preschool aged children” (Lindsay 172). Having a proven, studied method of prevention for a disease and then not utilizing it to its fullest potential is a reason that their children are growing wider. If exercise is a normal part of a child’s life, they will forever keep making good choices to protect that body. Parents however are main promoters of exercise and if they fail to do so, their children will have a greater risk of becoming obese.

In addition to simply enforcing how to eat and exercise, parents must also be role models in every aspect of health. One study showed that the likeliness that a child would be active increased when both of his parents were also active (Lindsay 172). When a whole family becomes involved in a fitness program, the changes are easier to make because the child will have endless outlets of support to turn to (Hills 154). Parents and older role models can greatly impact the life decisions that a child makes, and proven by studies, children will have a greater desire to be active if their role models are too.

fatkid

Parents use television and video games as free babysitters.

Parents who are inactive can have the same effect. When parents watch two or more hours of TV a day, their children are twice as likely to be inactive than in families where parents make watching TV a special treat (Lindsay 173). Parents shouldn’t let children have TV’s in their bedrooms, however the majority of parents see TV as a free babysitter and a way to easily entertain their children with little effort so many are putting TV’s in their children’s rooms. About 68% of children have a television in their bedroom (Lindsay 174). Excessive TV viewing has been linked to weight gain so parents should be enforcing rules that limit screen time among their children.

Nutritionally, parents should practice what they preach in order for their children to latch on to the healthy behaviors they need to avoid becoming obese. A child will eat what and how their parents eat.

If a child notices that his dad grabs a snack every time he sits down in front of the TV, the child will do the same probably for his whole life. If a child notices that his parents eat heaping portions of “bad” foods, the child will know that this is normal and he will try to do the same to be like his parents.

Ultimately, if parents can establish healthy eating habits and a love for physical activity while also practicing the rules they preach, childhood obesity can be avoided. Hopefully parents will become enlightened with the knowledge that it is their fault that their children are becoming obese and once they accept that, they can take the necessary measures to reverse the epidemic and prevent it from happening again.

Works Cited:

Hills, Andrew (Editor), Neil King (Editor) and Nuala Byrne (Editor). Children, Obesity and Exercise. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Lindsay, Ana C. “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity”. The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 169-186. Princeton University Spring, 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

O’dea, Jennifer (Editor), and Michael Eriksen (Editor). Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Images:

http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kty/lowres/ktyn197l.jpg

http://www.steadyhealth.com/130837/Image/obesity_child.jpg

http://api.ning.com/files/Cq6BfEXzuVCJZEQPslkRfNqBdawBT2p1TBt7w4QMDI0wRpP1JLieEtEc*f-Jz0H45MaKWYJ8DEAcbud0c3SBy7w36Tcl5-fo/108696268.jpg?width=275

http://medicineworld.org/images/blogs/9-2009/obese-boy.jpg

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Short Cuts

There are parents today that make short cuts in parenting that have harmful effects in the long run for their children’s health. Just because fast food is convenient, inexpensive, and begged for by children, doesn’t mean that it is in any way beneficial past the initial primal need for food.

The central focus of the cartoon is the oversized baby who appears to be shouting or crying. Behind the baby to the right is a soft drink that is even larger than the baby itself. His left hand rests comfortably on a giant chicken nugget and his right hand is reaching eagerly for the jumbo size carton of fries that his eyes are fixated on. Holding the fries and offering them willingly is a man who appears to be the baby’s father. Next to the man is the baby’s mother who stands with her hands clasped looking lovingly at her enormous offspring.

There’s no doubt that the parents portrayed in this cartoon don’t have love and affection for their baby but I would doubt that they are thinking about how their short cut choices are going to damage their child’s health forever. Fast food is easy to get and easy to feed to any child. Have you ever met a kid that turned down a chicken nugget? But fast food isn’t an easy habit to kick once a kid figures out how much more delicious a french-fry is than a carrot stick. The baby in this cartoon is so large to imply that the way that he is being fed is going to affect him in the long run. With his parents extremely on board to feed him fast food, the baby will most likely become obese assuming he’s not about to start running track at 24 months or have an extremely fast metabolism. The artist’s inclusion of the parents in the image implies that it is parents fault that children eat what they do. If it was just a baby eating fast food, the artist could have been blaming society for making fast food such a staple in our lives. However, this cartoon is clearly a stab at the parents who choose to take the short cut in raising their children and overlook the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet.

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