The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a housewife in my 40s. My son, who is in his first year of high school, is seeing his classmate, and they frequently visit each others’ homes. I’m having trouble trying to accommodate the different values of the two families.
My son returned home around 10 p.m. on the first day he visited her home. He told me he was asked to have dinner with her.
When she visits our place, she also stays a long time — beyond my limits. I heard her parents don’t criticize her, even if she gets home at around 11 p.m.
When I tried to persuade my son to urge her to go home, he told me that her parents don’t mind.
I reminded my son to leave her home by 7 p.m. as a courtesy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be convinced.
He also asked me if he could stay overnight at her place, citing her mother giving them approval. I told him he absolutely cannot.
I want him to keep his relationship with her in the boundaries of common sense. How should I deal with him?
M, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. M:
It’s frustrating when families of children associating with each other have different principles in educating them. Considering it is only natural to have different perspectives, whether they be parents or families, I think the best way to handle it is to “acknowledge and not deny.”
I do agree that a female high school student shouldn’t be allowed to stay out late. It sounds even more wrong if her family acknowledges their daughter’s relationship involves staying overnight with her boyfriend.
Still, I recommend you stay away from criticizing her family too easily. I’m sure your son would be hurt hearing his mother speak badly of someone he cares about.
I think it is quite fortunate he speaks to you at all about this, thereby seeking your approval. It certainly proves how much he trusts you. You must make sure to maintain this favorable relationship with him.
I suggest you first thank him for being honest and consulting you on the matter. You can then tell him he should keep in mind that her family are actually taking on a burden to treat him when they are having dinner together.
In particular, you should tell him to consider his age and restrain from getting into inappropriate situations.
Clearly state your concerns as his mother, as well as an experienced older person. When doing so, you must stay patient in conveying your thoughts.
I think now is a critical moment for you and your son. He must become a person who can think about what would be appropriate, and be able to communicate this in his own words — and what he decides — to his girlfriend.
Masami Ohinata, professor