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I can’t understand my daughter’s cold attitude

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 80s. I have no idea why my daughter, who is in her 60s, behaves so coldly toward me.

She temporarily came home last year when my husband died. But she totally ignored me and didn’t utter a word. When I called my older sister to inform her about my husband’s death, she told me she didn’t want to talk with me and that I should ask my daughter why that is so, and just hung up. I tried asking my daughter but she just spoke abusively, without answering my question.

Recently, my daughter came over without notice and asked me to lend her some money.

I tried asking her again about what she told my sister. Instead of answering, she brought up ancient issues such as me scolding her when she was little. She insulted me, and even hurled accusations at my circle of friends.

Her abusive words were so horrifying, I quivered and felt I couldn’t walk. I thought of severing ties with her. But when I told this to my son, he just put on a sad face and didn’t say a word.

I feel sorry that I couldn’t be nicer to my daughter when she was a child. My husband was unfaithful to me more than once then, and there was no comfort in our family. But I did let her enroll in university and marry the way she pleased, though she is twice divorced. It’s tough to live up to a daughter who hasn’t grown up at all.

T, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. T:

If you don’t have the slightest idea why your daughter and sister treat you so harshly, as if they’ve agreed to do so, there’s no way of me knowing either.

But there is one thing I can tell you: You might be hurting people without having the slightest intention of doing so, because people interpret things differently. There is no way of getting out of a muddle like this once it happens. You shouldn’t expect explaining yourself or discussing the matter will help.

If I were you, I wouldn’t try to seek solutions to what’s already in the past. I say this while thinking about the short time left in my own life. But in order to deal with the future, I would recommend you not involve your son — who is taking a neutral position — in this matter.

While it’s fine for you to depend on him, you shouldn’t speak ill of your sister or your daughter in front of him, or turn him into a go-between. They might just happen to be a great aunt and sister to him. Relationships between members of the family differ.

On the other hand, do not give in to your daughter over money or let her speak disrespectfully to you. If she starts blaming you for her childhood, tell her that all parents are immature at first and gradually grow up as they raise their own children. Once they do grow up, it is the children themselves who should take responsibility for their lives.

Keiko Higuchi, critic

(from July 2, 2016, issue)Speech

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