I am not an expert in parenting, and I am not planning on being one for a very long time. However, I’ve read some interesting manga about newcomer parents, who don’t have a clue about raising kids. So in this post, I’ll introduce three manga that demonstrate the trials of parenting: Nan Eomma Nun Appa, LOVE SO LIFE, and Balancing Toy.
Although they are first time parents in the manga, these characters mature as they continue their journey in raising kids. I notice that in these manga, it is the male protagonist that seems to struggle with handling children the most. It may be due to the fact that they may not have a nurturing motherly side to them. It is also interesting to note that in LOVE SO LIFE and Balancing Toy, the male protagonists are raising children that are not biologically their own. In fact, these male characters take responsibility and care for children in need of a parent. Being a mother or father doesn’t necessarily come from genetics, but actually being in a child’s life and raising them to be a proper adult. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly moments, loving and supporting your child is what it means to be a parent.
Nan Eomma Nun Appa (난 엄마 넌 아빠)
By: Hwang Mi Ri
Nan Eomma Nun Appa is a South Korean manhwa series about two immature high school students that become teen parents. An ordinary high school girl, Sun-Nam Bae is looking for a little fun in life, but her night out with her friends takes an unexpected turn when she ends up having a one night stand with a rich and spoiled guy named Chun-Doong Mah. The two don’t get along together, but are forced to cooperate with each other when Sun-Nam Bae finds out that she is pregnant with Chun-Doong Mah’s child.
When reading a synopsis like the one above, you begin to wonder whether these two will be good parents? After reading the first chapter of this manhwa, my answer is no. The reason I would say no is because both of the main characters are too stubborn and irresponsible. However, my perception of the characters changed as I continued reading. Once the child was born, Sun-Nam Bae and Chun-Doong Mah started to reexamine their lifestyles and behavior; in which they started prioritizing their son first in everything. It takes some time until Chun-Doong Mah starts acknowledging the child as his own. At first, I disliked their attitudes, but as they continued going through hardships and happy moments together, I began feeling sympathetic to them.
Nan Eomma Nun Appa provides a perspective on teen pregnancy and teenage parenthood, but these experiences are highly exaggerated. One should consider that this is a work of fiction, and doesn’t fully represent real life. Yet this manhwa does a good job in reminding readers that they should be cautious of their surroundings and make responsible choices. Sometimes, one night of fun isn’t worth it, if it changes your whole entire life.
LOVE SO LIFE
By: Kaede Kouchi
Shiharu Nakamura is raised in an orphanage after her mother passed away. Now a high school student, Shiharu volunteers at a daycare, and hopes to build her own someday. Since she gets along with children, Seiji Matsunaga hires her as a babysitter for his niece and nephew, Akane and Aoi Matsunaga. Seiji works as a popular television announcer. Since he works difficult hours, he is unable to properly care for Aoi and Akane; thus, he hires Shiharu to take care of the twins while he is away. Shiharu uses her experiences at the daycare and her mother’s guidance as sources for raising the twins. Eventually, Shiharu becomes closer to the Matsunaga family, and falls in love with Seiji.
LOVE SO LIFE is one of my favorite reads right now. The twins, Aoi and Akane, are adorable and their random antics are cute. My favorite moment was when they went on a “big kid” adventure to buy ketchup at a local store. Shiharu prepared for the trip in advance making sure they know where to go and how much money to give to the cashier. In addition, Seiji followed Aoi and Akane while they are on the mission to make sure everything goes as planned. When the twins encountered a dog, Akane got scared and started to cry. Yet Aoi protected her from the dog and made sure to calm her down. That scene was such a cute moment.
Furthermore, I felt that Seiji and Shiharu are well-suilted for each other. Both of them come from “broken” families. As I said before, Shiharu spent most of her life in a orphanage, and had to take care of herself. While Seiji took the responsibility of raising his brother’s kids after his brother abandoned them due to his wife’s death. I have a lot of respect for Seiji because he sacrificed his own bachelor lifestyle to raise his niece and nephew. Even though Seiji may not seem himself as a great parent, Seiji does his best at being the father figure that the twins need.
LOVE SO LIFE is a cute and adorable shoujo manga. It is a must read in my opinion!
Balancing Toy (やじろべえ)
By: Aiji Yamakawa
The last shoujo manga I am going to introduce is Balancing Toy by Aiji Yamakawa.
For the past ten years, Haru Ichikawa has been raised by her step-father, Seiji Ichikawa, after her mother passed away when she was five years-old. When Seiji’s grandfather passes away and her childhood apartment is about to be demolished, Haru starts re-evaluating her life and her position in this world.
Like the Seiji in LOVE SO LIFE, I have great respect for the Seiji in Balancing Toy. Seiji took it upon himself to raise Haru as a single parent despite not being her biological father. Seiji and Haru have an interesting relationship. The two rarely use family terms like “dad” or “daughter” to each other. In fact, the only time it is used is when Haru writes a special “thank you” letter to Seiji on his birthday. However, through their daily interactions, readers can tell that the two have a strong relationship.
I enjoyed reading this short shoujo manga. It focuses on the importance of family, even if you are not biologically related.
Although these manga do not provide tips on being good parents, it does provide interesting perspectives and experiences on raising kids. And mostly, these manga emphasize that parenting comes from the experiences and love you give to your child.