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I live with my dad, who has ignored me for over 3 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male clerical worker in my 20s and live with my parents. For some reason, my father has refused to communicate with me for more than three years.

When I try to talk to him, he avoids my eyes and just grunts back in reply, “I’m busy now.” Even when we are in the same room, he has my mother speak on his behalf. He talks to my mother and elder brother, and I often hear them laughing together, but he abruptly changes his attitude when I’m around.

I initially thought my father treated me like this because I spent time idly after graduating from university and didn’t get a regular job, so I gave up on my dream of becoming a writer and started working full-time. However, his attitude didn’t change.

I once tried to seek advice from him about a work problem, but he ignored me. The next day, my mother said, “Your father told me you’re suffering a setback at work because you aren’t making enough of an effort.” I don’t need to hear that kind of advice from someone who won’t even make an effort to face his own son.

I can see that he doesn’t regard me as a member of his family, but I would like to get closer to him. What should I do?

A, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Mr. A:

Hearing about a father and son who don’t talk to each other is nothing new. But if your father ignores you even when you try to talk to him, it’s a kind of psychological violence. I’m surprised you have endured this for as long as three years.

It’s not good for you to live with him any longer. You should start preparing to leave home as soon as possible.

Even if you gave up on your dream and started working in a field that your father approved of, it wouldn’t help the two of you get closer. If I understand correctly, you got a job out of consideration for your father’s wishes. Unfortunately, he has not acknowledged or appreciated it. You know he is that kind of person, otherwise, you would never want to be a writer.

Your elder brother has probably lived up to your father’s expectations. But you haven’t. Your father is scared of you. He has no idea what you are thinking, and doesn’t even want to recognize you as his own child.

I rarely hear of aspiring writers who are from stable families. I imagine that such people don’t like the idea of diligently working.

Therefore, you can write whenever you want. It’s the best thing for you to do. Some people write while having a job. A writer has won the Akutagawa Prize for literature after turning 70. So you don’t have to be in a hurry.

What you need now is solitude. This time you should decide on your own whether you will continue to pursue your dream or give up on it. You will be released from your father’s spell when you start making decisions for yourself.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from April 14, 2017, issue)Speech

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