The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 30s who works as a freelancer. I’m fed up with my mother visiting my house every day.
My parents live within walking distance, and my mother has been visiting my home since immediately after I gave birth. My children are in elementary school now, but she still regularly comes to help out, even though I’m less busy with child-rearing.
I want to raise my children at my own pace. However, my mother interferes in such matters as my children’s after-school lessons. I told her she doesn’t need to come every day, but before I knew it, she’d resumed her visits.
My parents supported me financially, and they look after my children when I’m busy with work. Although I’m very grateful for their help, I’ve reached my breaking point.
In general, she’s kind and the perfect mother. However, I’d like to break free from her close attention, even it means I can’t leave my children with her anymore.
Am I asking too much?
I, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dear Ms. I:
While problems between wives and mothers-in-law used to be the main source of tension, mother-daughter conflicts are now a more serious issue. Your problem is a typical example of this.
Your mother probably strongly believes she visits your home for your sake, without realizing that she’s actually bothering her daughter.
As you already know, the more you depend on your mother for money and child-rearing support, the more opportunities she’ll have to see you or express her opinions on child-rearing. However, I assume the actual source of your problem is not her self-assertion, but rather your belief that what you’re told is absolute, and that you need to change your attitude and way of thinking.
I think you’ve obeyed your powerful, education-oriented mother since childhood and grew up without asserting yourself or resisting her.
Rebuilding your relationship with your mother will require both time and mental strength. It must be tough to resent your mother. However, now is an ideal time to move beyond your joined-at-the-hip relationship.
Your mother excessively interferes in your affairs, but you should appreciate the good intent behind her behavior. At the same time, you should be strong enough to have your own opinions and clearly tell her yes or no. This will eventually lead your mother to accept you.
Masami Ohinata, university president