The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my senior year at university, and I’m worried that my father is always just loafing around at home after retiring.
My father was reemployed after his mandatory retirement. However, his reemployment contract terminated after only two years. He now gets up at around 9 a.m. and occupies our living room reading newspapers for two hours and then watches TV or reads books. He usually doesn’t go out.
When my mother asks him to work, he gets angry, saying, “I’m going to take a break for a year or two.” When I asked him to put his clothes away, he threw his suits and shirts downstairs from the second floor.
My mother works part-time several days a week. Although she wants to relax at home on her days off, she reluctantly stays away from the house, such as by going to a gym, because my father is always there. I’ve found a job for after graduation, and now I want to concentrate on working on my graduation thesis. However, my father is always disturbing me, which is very irritating.
According to my mother, he said to her: “You probably hate all these sudden changes, so I’ll go out during the day [just as I did when I worked].” In reality, however, he doesn’t keep his promise and always stays home.
My mother is so frustrated that she sometimes wakes up at night and drinks alcohol to help her sleep, although she doesn’t want to. Now, she won’t speak with him unless it’s necessary. She has also stopped smiling.
I, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dear Ms. I:
It was probably shocking for your father that his reemployment contract terminated in just two years. Companies are obligated to continue employing their workers until they become 65. Some companies renew contracts with such employees each year.
Your father had worked for many years for his family and was forced to stop working sooner than he wanted. In the first place, you and your mother should recognize his hard work and thank him by, for example, throwing him a party at home with a nice meal that you and your mother cook.
Although he may not be an ideal father or husband, he worked for his family and sent you to university, from which you are about to graduate. You should express your gratitude and affection through your words and behavior before advising or encouraging him about what to do from now on.
In addition, it’s time for your family to restructure the household economy. I suggest your mother work more and, if possible, aim to become a regular employee. It’s very good news you got a good job offer. I hope you keep working hard on your graduation thesis by making full use of the resources at your university and local libraries.
When you find your father a little more at ease, please give him useful information about your local community. For example, he can find a job through a local human resource center for the elderly, which offers work to registered members who are 60 or older. Although the hourly wages are not high, your father, who is still in his early 60s, is certainly in demand. I hope you help your father, although it will require a great deal of energy.
Keiko Higuchi, critic