The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female university student in my late teens. My father, a company employee who is in his late 50s, seems to have no friends. I’m concerned about how things will be after he retires from his job.
He works earnestly and cherishes his family. The problem is that he doesn’t socialize with his colleagues at all and comes straight home. However late it might be, he always eats at home. So my mother has to go to the trouble of preparing meals for him every day, when she also works part-time.
My father’s hobby is to watch go games on TV.
I’m sure he’ll stay home all day after he retires. I could easily imagine my mother getting worn out if this happens. As he likes doing housework, I could also envision him getting in the way of my mother.
Fortunately, my parents seem to be on good terms. I just wonder if there isn’t a way to make my father more outgoing. I might sound overly concerned, but I do want to leave home when I get a job in the future.
My mother is a sociable person who has many friends. She goes out often on her days off. She is always concerned about her husband not having friends.
Dear Ms. U:
Hmm ... You’re worried about how your friendless father will spend his life after retirement. I guess you’re foreseeing him becoming a good-for-nothing layabout, spending all his time at home.
Of course, I understand you care for him as a loving daughter — because he is a good family man, and not because you regard him as a nuisance. But I don’t think his life after retirement is directly connected to the fact that he doesn’t have friends.
First, to answer your question of whether there is a way to make him outgoing, I would say it’s quite unrealistic for him to turn into someone totally different. Besides, I suppose you wouldn’t mind him not having friends if he could be on his own without disturbing your mother at home. He seems to have a hobby. I think it’s even greater to hear he likes doing housework.
What about encouraging him to become the homemaker instead of your mother, who loves going out? He might find it enjoyable and even become an expert on the chores.
But don’t just leave him there alone. My assumption is that he likes his family — or to put it more precisely, his life with your mother — more than the house itself. Keep this in mind and let them go out together as much as possible.
Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist