The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female student in my late teens, and my divorced mom, in her 40s, is going out with a male colleague at her workplace. I’m not sure what to do because she keeps coming to me for advice about him.
The guy is in his late 50s. He likes history like my mom does, so they apparently have a lot to talk about. They go on dates and vacations together. I’ve never met him.
The problems my mom comes to me about include, “He takes forever to respond to my email messages,” “He doesn’t immediately tell me when he has a day off,” and “I haven’t been able to see him lately.” She can’t talk to her coworkers about him, so she only has me to get advice from.
This is a guy who can’t even remember her birthday. But my mom just said, “This is how adult relationships work,” and doesn’t care about it at all. To me, it feels like she’s just chasing after this guy, and that worries me.
At first, I was happy that my mom found someone and looks lively, but now it’s feeling like a burden. What should I do so I can keep listening to her problems?
U, Hiroshima Pref.
Dear Ms. U:
It seems as if you and your mother have switched places. I can see in your letter you’re quite a caring individual for worrying so much about her. I think most teenage girls would hate it if their mother suddenly started acting like a woman, not a mother. They’d probably want to distance themselves from their mother. But you have not. I think you are quite tolerant.
I’m about 10 years older than your mother, so I can tell you that women in their 40s are complicated. They’re no longer young, but they’re not exactly elderly either. They still want a new chapter in their lives. Therefore, I think it would be great if you could continue being friends with your mom. I think that means you can be more open with her, too. You can tell her, as you feel, “Mom, aren’t you going after this guy a little too hard?” and “I think you might be being played here.” Your mother comes to you about everything, so I think she’s hoping for your honest opinion.
Based on conjecture about this man, I’m thinking marriage is not on the table for him. He might even have his own family.
The time for you to be away from your mother — whether for work or marriage — is coming in the near future. While having her practice being away from you now and then, please use your mother’s experiences in love to help you in your own love life.