I’m a university student who can’t talk with parents

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male university freshman, and I’m frustrated because I can’t really communicate with my parents.

Our communication is brief and limited, like an office routine. My parents often talk with each other, but I stay silent when they do.

I don’t have any problems talking with my friends, but once I go home, I’m rendered speechless. It’s got to the point where I’m jealous of classmates who enjoy talking with their parents.

I basically like talking with people. I talked a lot with my parents when I was younger, up until the time I graduated from elementary school.

I stopped talking with my parents around my third year of junior high school, although it’s not like I was put off by them or anything. Now I find it hard to start a conversation with them. I’m not happy about this. What can I do?

F, Tokyo

Dear Mr. F:

As children grow, they usually talk less and less with their parents. It’s a common phenomenon.

It happens not because they hate each other, but because they are temporarily confused about how to maintain an appropriate distance from each other. In other words, you can resume conversations with your parents when you both trust each other.

So you don’t have to force yourself to talk with your parents until that time comes. Even if you don’t join in their conversations, you should just listen to them, I believe. Or it may be more important to have them notice you are listening to them.

Also, you should not neglect communicating with them even though it feels like an office routine. Keeping in contact with each other is a sign of mutual trust.

When you finish talking with them, don’t forget to say, “Thank you.” It’s probably more effective to say it while looking into their eyes.

You don’t have to be impatient, even if you can’t really talk with your parents. The main thing here is that you actually want to talk to them.

You’ve probably heard the famous proverb: “Uogokoro areba mizugokoro” (If a fish is friendly to water, water will be friendly to the fish). As this proverb indicates, if you love someone, it will ultimately reach that person.

You should keep hold of how you feel — I believe this is the key, for now.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from April 28, 2017, issue)Speech

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