I’m worried about my adult son, who wears dirty clothes

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 60s. I’m worried because my son, who is single and lives alone, doesn’t care about his clothing.

He is in his late 30s. He runs his own painting business, which is successful and keeps him busy. I loaned money to him when he started the business and he has been repaying me little by little each month, as he promised. He cares about his friends and has many good ones.

The problem is that he tends to behave as he pleases and doesn’t pay attention to his clothing. Indeed, his work clothes are very dirty. It’s awful for me to see him grow stubble and wear dirty clothes. I even don’t want to picture him that way for fear of what people think of him. I asked my husband to tell him to be more careful about what he wears, but he doesn’t listen to me and instead just says: “He’s devoted himself to his work. That’s good enough for us.”

Our son said he would start thinking about marriage when he turned 40 or so. But he probably won’t find a girlfriend easily unless he improves his appearance. I sincerely wish he could meet someone who is clean and tidy.

I understand I can’t change an adult man’s behavior by nagging him about what to do. How should I cope from now on?

K, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

Your son cares about his friends, has many good ones, works sincerely, successfully runs his own business and properly repays the money he borrowed from you. He is a very respectable person. You have nothing to complain about.

Regarding his clothing, dirty clothes aren’t necessarily unclean from a hygienic point of view. Rather, if his clothes are stained with paint from working, it’s honorable proof of hard work.

Let me tell you about T-shirts and jeans. They were underwear and work clothes first, but suddenly began to be worn by young people and fashion-conscious middle-aged men a little after the end of World War II. Today, even elderly people wear them. Nobody regards wearing such items as sloppy. Growing a beard, which may look like a lack of grooming to you, has also been accepted as a kind of fashion by many men.

A female acquaintance of mine, who is a city office worker and very tidy, tells me that she is attracted to men who wear work clothes and drive light trucks.

She probably feels dazzled by such people as they throw themselves into what they think is a good course of action. It may be because as a public worker, she needs to do as her boss tells her even if she is not convinced by the work.

So, I assure you that your son is all right.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from Dec. 8, 2016, issue)Speech

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