The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 60s. I’m concerned about the future of my eldest daughter, who is divorced and raising three young children.
She has two primary school children and a 5-year-old. She began suffering from depression two years ago. She works but occasionally takes some time off due to the illness.
The other day, she said to me in despair, “I can’t raise my children anymore.” She also told me her children won’t listen to her and behave very selfishly, which has made her gloomy and feel empty inside.
As she wants to remarry, she registered with a marriage agency. However, her efforts have been unsuccessful. She feels very low and asked, “Is having three children such a large handicap for marrying?” She said she needs a man she can depend on mentally.
As I am unable to let the situation continue like this, I looked after the children for three days at my house. But it was very exhausting for me, as I suffer from a chronic disease and I’m not physically tough.
I asked her former husband to take the children and bring them up. However, he refused and said, “It’s too late for you to ask me to do this now.”
I’m so worried about the situation. What should I do as her mother?
W, Hiroshima Prefecture
Dear Ms. W:
I’d sympathize with your daughter who is having a hard time raising her children. But let me say this first. The children are treated as an obstacle both by their father and mother. I feel very sorry for them.
Your daughter cannot discontinue being a mother for the children even though she declared that she can’t raise them anymore. As her mother, you should warn her to be careful what she says.
As it seems your daughter wants to marry again, she must first show that she loves her children rather than say, “Having children is a handicap.” It’s certain no man would feel like becoming her husband if she did this. When a man wants to marry a woman who already has children, it’s because he wants to build a peaceful, happy family.
If she “wants to depend on a man as she doesn’t like her children,” it will discourage men from approaching her.
You’ve made great efforts in supporting your daughter even though you suffer from a chronic disease. I admire you. However, rather than looking after her children on her behalf or trying to force child care onto her former husband, I feel you need to start thinking seriously with your daughter about how you two can convey your love toward the children.
Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist