The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my 40s and I’m having difficulties parenting my daughter because it brings back memories of my parents’ cruel words and attitude toward me when I was a child.
I am their eldest child, and they were very strict with me. I can’t remember a word of approval from them. If my younger sister got a bad score in exams, my father would angrily accuse me of not helping her with her study. While my sister and brother lived on the second floor of the house with them, I had to live with my grandparents on the first floor.
It’s not only that I recall such grave memories, but I am actually behaving in the same way and shouting and verbally abusing my daughter.
I have no idea how I should commend her because I was never complimented. I don’t even know what kind of conversation I should have with her, since I never had a chance to chat with my mother.
I expected my relationship with them would change when my daughter was born, but that never happened. When I showed them a letter by my daughter, they simply said her handwriting was horrible and I should make her practice more. I loathe the idea that they now complain about her.
I want to be a warmhearted mother and free from such unhappy memories.
Z, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dear Ms. Z:
There are many people who endure the same pain. We tend to be overly conscious of our parents because knowing how you were brought up is key to understanding who you are.
But let me tell you this — any parent who is in the process of child rearing is inexperienced and immature, just as you are now. No parents can claim they flawlessly brought up their child. Besides, there are often inescapable reasons behind what happened during the course of our childhood.
To start with, there are more than just parents who children can learn from. There are other adults, friends, books and the like where they could pick up a lot of things and refine their sensibilities, eventually growing up to become full-fledged adults. I am sure you must have done so yourself.
I do hope you will believe in your strength and rich potential. Otherwise your life could be taken over by your memories. I am sure your childhood memories will be altered as you go through various experiences.
I recommend you keep some distance from your parents for the time being. Meanwhile, just deal with your daughter with a sense of responsibility and awareness as her mother. You’ll surely be fine.
Megumi Hisada, writer