Parenting is defined as a way of nurturing and guiding children by providing for their basic needs and generally preparing them to live on their own (Purohit, 2005). The physical, psychological, and emotional needs of a child are met as parents interact with their children from day to day. The process of parenting is characterized by many decisions on the part of the parent or caregiver, and it is in this regard that certain trends or styles of parenting emerge. These styles are different and diverse as there are different parents, cultures, etc. among other variables. It is from this background that the views of Morinaga are examined in the light of his argument that parents make mistakes in raising their children by protecting them too much.
The views and opinions of Morinaga about parenting greatly reflect his path while growing up. Of importance is to understand that his view point was mainly formed by the mistakes of his childhood; it was influenced by his culture and religion as well as the people he grew looking up to. The strict discipline he received at home and after joining the Zen way of life impacted his choices as a person and prospectively his way of parenting. He says this of his faith in instruction and training:
I understood that true belief is to accept without objections. I must agree to undertake every task, no matter how impossible it may seem. Even if I am told to do three things at once, even if I am told to do something I have never before attempted, I must never, under any circumstances, say 'I can't do that. That's impossible (Morinaga, 2004, p. 42).
In general, the Eastern Religions (the religious school from which Morinaga comes) portend an unbiased and unquestioning faith in one’s leader, master or parent in order to be successful in life. Morinaga, therefore, rules that instructions from parents should not be negotiated but accepted and executed without questions. Morinaga (2004) further states that the student comes to the truth that their trusted instructor/teacher/parent would not lead them astral to commit unethical things.
Morinaga opines that children relate to instructions more readily than reason with them. Children are trained by instruction and learn the concepts in the process. There are things that a child may never understand but will take them at face value. Morinaga holds that “…regardless of how a parent may demonstrate the parental mind to a child, that child cannot completely understand it” (Morinaga, 2004, p. 15).
Given the tradition and strict discipline in which Morinaga grew up, he finds himself tasked with the need to scholar discipline in children in a strict sense as opposed to the way parents are endearing themselves to their children. Discipline, ostensibly, comes in as a vital tool or skill in steering morals in children. Purohit (2005) agrees that discipline is an integral part of ensuring that children understand not only instructions but also learn acceptable social behaviors. She outlines the method of disciplining that revolves around rewarding and punishing children when they do good or bad respectively (Purohit, 2005, p.4).
Morinaga says that treating children as brittle and innocent pious creatures can be detrimental in the sense that parents are likely to be temped to overlook their children’s mistakes. Parents can also underestimate their children’s ability to learn behavior when they eggshell them beyond necessity. He demonstrates this in recalling his relationship with his deceased doctor-father, who was stern and direct in his method of dealing with him. Even in his twenties, under the tutelage of his Zen masters, Morinaga is not given a break either. He was constantly pushed to the limits, and he even confirms this method of parentage when he says the following about disciplining an errant child: “...with this reminder, the child can begin to see the error of her actions for herself. When she gets discouraged you can ask her if treating herself unkindly doesn’t sadden Buddha within and then let her go to her room and think it out” (Morinaga, 2004, p. 119).
Levy (1966) agrees that overprotecting children can lead to their overdependence on their parents. He says that some parents develop a fear when they begin to see children showing signs of independence of thought, and they downplay this ability (Levy, 1996, p.126). It is a result of excessive contact and smothering that may make parents feel that if they do not please their children or do as their children wish, then they might lose them or lose out on their relationship with them. In view of the gains of discipline, even though parenting may be painful, Morinaga exemplifies that “when a preschooler loses a tooth, a still more wonderful tooth takes its place” (Morinaga, 2004, p. 113).
In conclusion, Morinaga takes the liberty of using his own life to demonstrate the pitfalls as well as the successes of parenting as he was growing up. In so doing, he demonstrates a firsthand experience coupled with lessons learnt from his teachers and, so to speak, his parents. Morinaga is keen to point out that children are capable of following instructions to the letter even though they may not understand them in the immediate context. The true value of parenting comes in the payoff when a child grows up with understanding and finally becomes a dependable responsible member of the society. He reiterates that protecting children too much may not be good for them since they may not learn to depend on themselves and stand on their own when required to.