The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female student in my teens. I’d like to consult you about my relationship with my father.
I seem to make comments that annoy him, as he tells me I’m “disrespectful” and “offensive.” He probably misunderstands me because I can’t keep myself from saying things that pop up in my mind. Sometimes we don’t speak to each other for days.
Though we try to talk things over occasionally, we end up getting frustrated with each other and the issues hardly ever get solved.
When we had another argument recently, he said, “Parents and children are not equals.” Of course I feel a sense of obligation to my parents. They send me to school and let me do things I want to do.
But I think it’s also necessary for both sides to show respect. I want home to be a place where family members can be candid; there are so many relationships outside of home in which I have to be on my best behavior. Could you advise me on how to be on good terms with my father?
T, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. T:
I rarely spoke with my father — or my mother — when I was a teenager. I mostly stayed away from home. And when I was at home, I would shut myself in my room. So I’m really impressed with you and your father for making efforts to talk to each other, even though you mostly quarrel.
I certainly understand how stressful it is for you when conversations don’t go smoothly and you always have to think of ways to please your father.
Apparently, the struggle you’re having at home isn’t that different from what you’re experiencing outside. But I think you still want to “stay polite” and “show respect.” In that case, I suggest you treat speaking to your father like a training course on becoming a good adult.
You should listen more to outsiders but be more willing to express yourself at home — quite the opposite of what you’ve been doing.
A parent-child bond won’t break down that easily. Speak out in a way that won’t provoke conflict.