The Significant Other

“In psychology, a significant other is any person who has great importance to an individual’s life or well-being. In sociology, it describes any person or persons with a strong influence on an individual’s self concept. ” (From Wikipedia ‘Significant Other’)

The arrival of my daughter changed me and my self concept for good, and as she has grown and realised the nature of my difference (we live in Japan, I am not Japanese), I believe that I have become a fairly significant other for her, too. How does my difference affect her, and to what extent should I let it do so?

It’s a metaphorical bag of worms that I am holding here as I try to untangle various ideas and feelings on this topic and stay vaguely focussed on the point. Of course every parent is a significant other to their children, but I come with the baggage of another culture that does not always agree with the one I live in (the deference to precedent? mayonnaise on pizza?). What I worry about is that in my eagerness to provide the benefits that my culture can bring her, I might go just that little too far and become the cultural tyrant she will eventually be unable to relate to. ‘No, you don’t want to do it their way. Do it my way!’.

One realisation of late is that in order to provide a useful cultural and linguistic education for my child, I must also try to accept the culture I live in to a greater extent. This sounds obvious, I know. I need to support her endeavors into the world which will occur in this cultural framework. I need to learn to hold my tongue at times. I need to remember that I used to watch Japanese animations when I was a boy (G-Force/Gatcha-man) and that I didn’t really understand it but I enjoyed it.  In short, I need to loosen up and make sure that whatever she is doing, she won’t mind talking to me about it.

I have been told by my other significant other that I am single minded when I get started on something (typical man, I hear Jo Brand cry). With this in mind, I take tentative steps into becoming more involved with her life rather than trying to direct her as part of mine.



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