The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female company worker in my 40s. My son recently began saying he wants to live with my former husband because he is given more freedom and treated better at his place.
My son is in his third year of high school. I got divorced when he was 2 years old. Ever since, I’ve been raising him on my own. I’ve had him help me with housework since he was very little. The two of us have been living together and supporting each other. However, he seems to feel I’m annoying.
He started visiting my former husband’s house twice a month when he was a third grader in elementary school. He soon began complaining to me, saying, “No one tells me to help out there.” I was upset and argued with him. He is given money and other things there, too.
I’ve done my best to provide for him financially. For example, I’ve sent him to two juku cram schools because he wanted to better prepare for university entrance exams.
However, each time I give him advice on his daily life I hear he goes and speaks ill of me to my former mother-in-law. He’s becoming more hostile to me with each passing day.
Believe me, I’ve been trying to raise him with my all strength and heart. I’m extremely sad to see him drift away from me.
Dear Ms. K:
You are feeling lonely over your son. I understand the feeling very well. He was only 2 years old when you divorced. You’ve held the belief you and your boy have been supporting each other since that time.
Although you have to live on a tight budget, you’ve managed to send him to cram schools and worked hard to maintain your household. To your regret, he has been drawn to your indulgent former husband and mother-in-law, feels frustration over living with you and even wishes to be freed from you.
It’s sad, but your son may have his own reasons. Perhaps instead of wanting to have an easygoing life, he began to feel that your selfless devotion to him put too much weight on his shoulders.
I’m not very sure whether my opinion is the best answer, but if I could make a suggestion, I would say to leave him alone for a while and let him do whatever he wants. He will find out on his own sooner or later who truly cares for him.
If the people at your former husband’s house treat him as they do solely for the sake of his well-being, just let it go. This is only an idea, and I know it’s hard for you to feel this way.
I suggest you stop worrying so much about who your son belongs to. He has the right to live his own life. He should make decisions on his own and take responsibility for their consequences. Take this into account and think patiently about what you can do to support him.
Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher