The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my 40s, and I’m worried because my mother often gives a lot of money to my son, who is in his mid-teens.
I’m always telling my son about the importance of money and don’t allow him to have more cash than he needs. However, my efforts have been hampered by my mother, who gives him ¥10,000 whenever she has the chance, even when it’s not his birthday or New Year’s Day.
I’ve asked my mother not to be so irresponsible by doting on him like this, while also telling my son not to pester his grandmother for money when he sees her.
To my dismay, I’ve found out my mother still gives him money behind my back. Her act may give him the wrong idea that he can do whatever he wants, even things that are forbidden, so long as his parents don’t find out. I resent my mother for this.
My mother has not been happy together with my father for more than 15 years, so she’s had me act as an intermediary between them. It’s tough work for me, but she’s given me financial assistance each time I do it. It’s very helpful for me.
In addition, my mother, who is not good at penmanship, has me write replies for her to season’s greetings. In return, she pays me some money.
I want to stop doing these things, as I feel like I’ve been controlled by my mother.
M, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. M:
Children’s money issues are very hard for parents to handle.
Your son is in adolescence now and probably won’t listen to you if he is simply scolded without being given a chance to express his own opinion. At the same time, however, complaining to your mother probably won’t completely solve the problem.
I really think this is a matter to discuss among family members. Ask your son how he feels about getting money from his grandmother. Then, think with him about why your mother gives him a lot of money behind your back.
If your son can realize that his grandmother wants to please him by giving him money, he will surely understand what it means when she gives him a large sum of money. This will help the boy start thinking about how he should decline without wounding her feelings and how he should use the money when he does receive it.
Any family problem gives the members involved a good chance to think about it together. It’s true it takes some time, but repeating this process for any new problem helps parents cultivate their children’s minds while asking the parents what kind of parents they should be.
I have one more suggestion. It’s about time for you to stop receiving money in return for writing on her behalf. What parents do is more influential than what they say for the development of their children.
Megumi Hisada, writer