The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a housewife in my 60s. I recently learned that my daughter-in-law has said bad things about her husband — our son — as well as my husband and I, on a social networking site.
As she and her husband live away from us as well as from her parents or any of her relatives, we do our best to remind them that we care for them. We send them rice, and never miss occasions of celebration for our grandchild.
They live a distance away, but make an annual visit, while we visited them one or two times a year. I always was under the impression that there were no problems with our relationship.
Then, one day, my daughter accidentally found my daughter-in-law’s comments posted on the internet. She went on about an argument between her and our son, then criticized us as the ones who raised him.
It was as if I had seen her true heart by peeking into her diary. It was a total shock.
Even though I am his mother, I never sought to meddle in their relationship in any way. But it makes me very sad to find out this is the way she thinks of us.
How should I deal with her from now on?
F, Miyagi Prefecture
Dear Ms. F:
I would say it was very thoughtless of your daughter-in-law to make negative comments about family members on social media. But it was also not very commendable for your daughter to inform you.
I can imagine how distressing the whole thing must be to a good-natured person like you. But speaking ill of in-laws is actually nothing new — the only difference is that the internet has provided a new venue.
I’ve been told that people are less reserved on social media where they don’t see the faces of others. I also think it was just your son’s wife trying to let off some steam after the argument with her husband. I think that if she was asked if that was what she really thought, she wouldn’t know what to say.
That said, you did read it, so I understand it will be difficult for you to interact with her like you used to. I suggest you keep some distance from her for a while.
At this point, you should show patience as the older, more experienced person. You will need to restrain your desire to see your grandchild and regard this time as a good opportunity to redefine your relationship with her.
Your son and his wife now live in their own world, one that you do not know. Even if there are no relatives around, there will be people nearby to help them out. And during this time, they are building new relationships on their own.
I think all you need to do is keep caring about them, but at a distance. Leave them alone and in time, they will be the ones to get in touch with you.
I suppose their next homecoming visit will be around the New Year holidays, and I can see you forgiving her by then — because that’s the kind of person you are. That was my impression when I first read your letter, and I’m sure it wasn’t wrong.
Hazuki Saisho, writer