The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a public service worker in my 40s. I verbally and physically abused my three sons when they were young. I’m really concerned this could affect them and their families in the future.
I now live with my husband and his parents. My three sons are all university students and live separately, each renting a room.
I began abusing them around the time they were primary school students.
My husband seldom helped me raise our children so my mother-in-law helped, but I was never completely satisfied with the way she helped me. I was also frustrated at work. As a result, I often scolded my sons and hit them. Almost every night, watching their sleeping faces in their beds, I would apologize.
One day, I realized it was really stupid for me to do this. Since then, I began doing my best to care for my children and my family.
Although I was such a bad, stupid mother, my children grew up to be honest and upright. It’s probably because my in-laws raised them with affection and kindness. I am really grateful to them.
However, I’ve heard people who were abused when they were young abuse their own children as a result. I suspect my stupidity could adversely affect them and their families and make them unhappy. I’m so worried I can’t sleep at night.
U, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. U:
Some time ago, I had the opportunity to hear from people who were abused and were, as a result, raised at children’s homes. I asked them what was the toughest for them.
They then said it’s the stereotypical perception in society that people who were abused by their parents when they were young will, in turn, abuse their own children. The technical term is “generational transmission,” and such cases do sometimes happen.
On the other hand, quite a few people manage to overcome their hard childhood experiences, have children and create happy families.
These people said the key is “to meet an adult who loves and watches [over people like them] with affection even if only one such person exists.”
It was a great opportunity for me to think about the strong power children have in growing up as respectable people and the importance of adults who watch over them warmly.
You may have treated your sons inappropriately for a time. However, your in-laws loved them, more than making up for your lapses. Also, you sincerely regretted what you did and earnestly made efforts to change your ways.
I think you are a good mother who is full of humanity and that is better than a mother who confidently praises herself for flawlessly raising her children. Don’t forget to thank your in-laws for their support. Also, have confidence in your sons who have grown to be honest and upright individuals and continue to watch over them warmly.
Masami Ohinata, professor