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I can’t stand my son, who just plays on his smartphone

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a company employee and a single mother in my 40s. I have a daughter and son. I don’t know what to do with my useless son, who is now in his third year of middle school.

My daughter, who is in her third year of high school, is studying hard preparing for her university entrance exams. She really impresses me.

On the other hand, my son does nothing but play games on his smartphone. He’s been like this ever since he was forced to leave his school club.

We live with my parents, who criticize me about my son’s behavior. I take my anger out on him with a strong fury, and this always leads to arguments. It just keeps on like this.

I’m concerned he might end up without a decent job. I don’t want to see him sitting idly at home.

I sometimes wish he was not part of my life, and there are times I actually tell him that “I shouldn’t have had someone so worthless.”

I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s his life and he’s the one to decide — that all I need to do is stay cheerful. But I don’t want the situation to remain like this forever. Should I be correcting him now?

C, Yamaguchi Prefecture

Dear Ms. C:

Children don’t always grow up the way parents wish. Yet, it’s outrageous that you want him out of your life. I’m astonished that he had to listen to his mother telling him he was “worthless” and that you should not have had him.

You did not elaborate on the circumstances as to why he was forced to leave his school club. Was it because he had to concentrate on his high school entrance examinations? If that’s so, it’s no wonder he couldn’t adjust to things easily.

To make matters worse, he has to go home to an older, straight-A sister, grandparents who keep on grumbling about him, and a mother who despises him. I can easily imagine that playing games on his smartphone is the only relief he gets. You’ve virtually erased him from your mind.

You should first sincerely apologize to him for the terrible way you’ve treated him. Then, listen carefully to what he has to say, and what he wishes to do. Stop comparing him with his sister and look for his good points.

In order to keep him from becoming a recluse or violent person, you should immediately stop what you are doing and change your behavior.

Masami Ohinata, professor

(from May 19, 2016, issue)Speech

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