The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a housewife in my 50s. I have two sons — both in their early 20s — who started their own businesses while they were still teenagers. They both live on their own and seem to be quite well off. I’m concerned they spend money too lavishly.
They told me they would buy me a car for my 50th birthday and recommended I get the same type as them. When I took a look at the brochure, I was astonished to see how expensive they were — they cost more than our house, which took years of work for my husband and I to be able to build. Their watches, suits and the like are also outrageously expensive.
My sons frequently give us expensive presents, too. But I don’t know what to do with them.
I get upset when I see my sons fail to appreciate the value of money. When I told them to stop being so wasteful, they snapped at me, saying there’s nothing wrong with spending what they have. They seem to believe they’re paying their parents back with their expensive gifts.
I can’t rely on my husband for advice, since he’s currently absorbed in thoughts of owning a luxurious, imported car, which he has been wanting for so long. I don’t have friends I can go to about this, either.
Do you think I’m just being envious because I’m not as privileged? Am I becoming jealous of my own sons? Please tell me how to deal with my feelings as well as with my sons.
S, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. S:
To be honest with you, I’m having trouble understanding what your problem is.
Your entrepreneurial sons have succeeded at work and are enjoying their enormous wealth by spending it on luxury items. I don’t know if you should call this a “waste of money.” People have different definitions of wastefulness.
While you think they’re wasting money, they see things differently. You have no grounds to criticize them.
Just tell them that you don’t want the presents if that’s how you feel. That should solve your problem. Show them what you think is the real way to pay back one’s parents and you won’t have to worry about lacking reliable friends to talk to.
I get the feeling that you’re unaware of what line of business your sons are in. Is this not in fact the true source of your anxiety?
I suggest you take the time to listen to them about why they’re doing so well. You’ll probably feel more comfortable receiving presents from them once they answer you.
There’s no point in being jealous of your sons’ earnings.
Tatsuro Dekune, writer