Why should parents who want to raise self-sufficient children watch Netflix’s Old Enough for encouragement?

The premise of the show Old Enough, which debuted in Japan as Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, is simple yet captivating: little children, some as young as two years old, conduct home errands for the first time while a camera team accompanies them. A child is required to do something like go to the local market and back with an elaborate grocery list, or race home from the orchard to produce fresh juice for the family, in each utterly lovely and 10-15 minute episode.

In the little hands of the toddlers tasked with completing them, these chores might appear Herculean, frequently leading to humorous situations and beautiful exchanges with strangers that validate the children’s independence and capability.

That’s not to imply there aren’t obstacles—there are often distractions for small children who are more interested in playing than doing errands. When the assignment involves harvesting a cabbage nearly as big as she is, it can be difficult to remember everything needed, to correctly calculate money for purchases, or, in the instance of one tiny but determined girl, to finish the work.

Then there’s the fear and tears that often accompany the first time a child goes out alone, from both the child and their parents, who are often much more nervous than their children. This is where the show’s most compelling—and divisive—aspect lies: thinking that tiny children can safely do things in the world and do them well on their own.

After the show premiered on Netflix in late March, reactions varied from awe and delight to incredulity and anxiety in the United States. Parenting approaches, cultural differences, and even infrastructure and legislation all came up in conversation. It should go without saying that a show like Old Enough would be extremely unlikely to be produced in the United States.

That isn’t to say that the parents in Old Enough aren’t good enough. For one thing, Japan has one of the world’s lowest crime rates and one of the strictest gun control regulations. Across the country, city planning and policies have created surroundings that are far more conducive to youngsters wandering alone than in the United States.

Why should parents who want to raise self-sufficient children watch Netflix's Old Enough for encouragement?

Hironori Kato, a professor of traffic planning at the University of Tokyo, described solo travel for tots as the norm in an interview with Slate. Kato said: “Many kids go to neighborhood schools on foot and by themselves, that’s quite typical. Roads and street networks are designed for kids to walk safely.”

Japan also put greater importance on independence and self-sufficiency on a cultural level. Toshiyuki Shimoi, a Tokyo-based child development expert, said to the New York Times that sending children to run errands when they’re young is standard procedure, calling it a: “typical way of raising children in Japan and symbolic of our cultural approach.”

All of this is to imply that the kids on Old Enough are more than fine, and worried viewers should rest assured that the show is as pure and enjoyable as it appears. Netflix’s The Old Enough is fascinating.  To be honest, it’s exciting and cute.  After a slew of stressful, anxiety-inducing shows about disturbed teenagers, soul-sucking family empires, and endless tests of lovers’ commitment, it’s refreshing to find solace in the exploits of beautiful babies exploring the world, one errand at a time.