Parents are getting older, debating whether to help out at family business

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I was planning to look for a part-time job, but now I’m wondering if I should be helping out at my family’s restaurant.

The restaurant is not doing well. My parents are in their 60s, so I don’t know how much longer they can work, and I don’t know when my grandparents will start requiring nursing care. My older sister and younger brother are both unable to work and be financially independent because they both have mental disorders.

I used to help out at the restaurant before I got married. Even though my parents had debts, they just made excuses and refused to try anything new. I couldn’t take it, and as a result, I decided I wouldn’t do anything related to their business anymore.

Now that I have a child, I visit my parents from time to time, so our relationship is not bad.

However, recently, I heard my father’s knee was acting up and he had to take several days off work. I am driven by a strong desire to take care of my parents, so can you please give me some advice?

Just as a side note, my parents have never asked me to help out at the restaurant since I got married.

—K, Niigata Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

After thinking it through rationally, I think it would be better for you not to work at your parents’ restaurant and find employment elsewhere. Life as a working mother doesn’t leave you with a lot of extra time and it is also physically demanding. It’s important to find a job that will allow you to clearly differentiate between work and family.

For that reason, it will probably be more beneficial for your physical and mental health to develop relationships with people outside of your family. Haven’t you already experienced losing patience with your parents when you were in close proximity with them?

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, managing a restaurant is extremely difficult. Maybe the reason they haven’t asked you to help out is that they don’t want to get you involved in their various problems.

Also, you said that your parents are over 60, but people in their 60s are still working nowadays. Your parents probably have a stronger sense of being a part of the workforce because your grandparents are still around. Maybe it will be good just to keep an eye on your parents and see how they run the restaurant for the time being.

There is also a possibility that if you work hard at your part-time job, you might become a full-time employee. If your income increases, you can spend a portion of your salary to help your parents. I think that is another way to fulfill your filial duty.

—Yoko Sanuki, lawyer