The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female part-time worker in my 20s. I don’t think I can bear another second of living with my mother.
My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. I understood that my mom was going through a tough time, so I helped her as much as I could. I also cared for my little sister, who was born when I was in junior high school. However, my mom frittered away her time playing pachinko and off galavanting with men.
Afterward, when we began living with our grandmother, my mom used this as an excuse to completely check out on the family. She even stopped paying for our food, and our grandmother began providing for us instead.
I wanted to go to university on a student loan, but I couldn’t because my mom told me she didn’t want to be my guarantor. She sometimes even gets mad at me for no apparent reason and says, “If I hadn’t gotten pregnant with you, I never would have married that jerk.”
I’m planning to leave the house once I save up enough money. I know that my mom can’t be an entirely bad person, but it’s just really sad. I’ve been constantly irritated lately, and I don’t know what kind of approach to take to overcome this situation.
J, Ibaraki Prefecture
Dear Ms. J:
Parents have the responsibility to nurture and care for their children, and to fail at this task and basically ignore a child is a form of child abuse known as neglect. When you were in junior high school, you and your little sister were in a situation in which you could have been placed in a children’s home at any time. When I think of the tears you’ve shed and all the hard work you’ve had to do at such a young age, my heart aches and I even feel angry. Please give yourself credit for the great job you’ve done.
You are not responsible for your mom’s self-indulgent lifestyle. You are kind to defend her by saying she’s not all bad, but your mom no doubt takes advantage of such kindness. I completely agree that you should leave the house. You probably feel a pang of conscience when you think about your little sister, but you must harden your heart and protect yourself.
What will you do after striking out on your own? Will you go to university? What do you want to study? What kind of job do you want? Once you start living alone you’ll have more time for yourself. The bigger the obstacle you face in your life, the greater the risk you could lose your way once that obstacle has been removed. From now on you should try to give shape to your goal — even if it’s a tentative one for now — and keep yourself busy.
Everyone walks their own path. I know that you will find yours, too.
Hazuki Saisho, writer