The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male company worker in my 40s. My father, who lives with us, held a managerial post at a well-known company before he retired several years ago. I’m afraid he behaves like a manager at home, too.
Essentially, he’s an autocrat. He decides important matters for our family without consulting any of us and tells us afterward. If I talk back to him, he complains nastily over and over again, paying no attention to the fact that he may be heard by my wife and child.
His stock phrase is “You can live apart from me anytime if you don’t like it.”
He’s so stubborn that he never changes what he decides or thinks. For one thing, he never cancels his daily walk, even if it rains or he’s in poor shape. He hangs on until he reaches his target number of steps.
He also meddles in the housework, although he wasn’t interested in it at all while he was working. He likes to find bargain foods in the advertising leaflets delivered with the newspaper and insists he wants to eat this and that. If it’s not served for dinner, he starts to complain nastily.
I admired him before his retirement, so I’m very sorry to see him this way. My wife seems very frustrated by this. Can’t my family go back to how we used to be?
Dear Mr. M:
Your father troubles his family by trying to continue enjoying his successful work career in his post-retirement life at home. He doesn’t know home and workplace are run according to different principles, and upsets his family as a result.
Your father probably can’t forget the pleasure of behaving as a director to his subordinates at his workplace. He can’t get that pleasure any more, so he seeks it from his family. It’s so frustrating, but it’s very difficult for elderly people to change their way of life.
I think you probably have only one solution — direct his attention to something else. But be careful not to trouble other people.
I mean you should discover a place or occasion for him that involves equal human relationships, not one with subordinates like he used to have as a director, and where he simply feels very comfortable and happy.
It could be a local hangout such as a pub or a Go board game circle where people are free from hierarchical relationships. It could be a volunteer activity involving various types of people. Keeping a pet animal could also work, as they are adorable and his dignity means nothing to them. Tell him he can enjoy such a relationship with a pet.
Honestly speaking, organizing this will take a lot of time and trouble. But you should do this to overcome your ill fortune.
Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher