The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I am a man in my 80s. I am worried about my two sons in their 50s.
I live with my eldest son. A high school graduate, he’s never had a steady job and hasn’t worked over the last two decades. I’ve been paying his national pension premiums out of my own pension income, but I’ve used up all of my savings.
My wife pampered him, and they were like a married couple. I’m now taking care of my wife in her 80s at home. Meanwhile, my eldest son is telling people that he cannot work because he has to look after his mother.
My second son lives alone. He suffered a cerebral infarction last year and lost his job. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation therapy. I’m worried about his health and want him to come back to our house. However, my eldest son strongly opposes his brother coming back. I’m ashamed of that.
As a parent, I want both of my sons to equally share my house. I sometimes think that I should sell my house and have my sons live by themselves.
I’m not expecting my eldest son to start working, but I do want him and his brother to help each other at least. Please advise me on what I should do.
Dear Mr. Y:
Parents in their 80s are usually taken care of by their sons in their 50s. But that is not what is happening in your case, probably because you are strong and too good a person.
It will be difficult for all of you to be living together while having such problems. There is a danger that the relationship may lead to a dead end. I think you should instead have serious discussions on how each of you can find a way to become independent.
First, leave your younger son alone unless he asks for your help.
You say you are thinking of selling your house, but the money from that should be set aside as a fund for you and your wife’s future. Don’t hand it thoughtlessly to your sons. You should be responsible for looking after your wife as her husband and shift your mind toward ending your eldest son’s dependence on you. Otherwise, he will likely never have the opportunity to become independent.
Some people refuse to work because they don’t want to disappoint their parents for not keeping their job. I recommend you to frankly tell your eldest son as soon as possible that his parents — namely you — are too old to look after him and don’t have the strength to do so anymore.
Megumi Hisada, writer