I’m depressed as my eldest son failed all his university entrance exams

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female government employee in my 40s and I’m frustrated because my eldest son failed all of his university entrance exams this spring.

My husband and I both graduated from public universities and work as civil servants. We sent our two children to a private junior-senior high school because we wanted them to study in a better educational environment.

Our eldest son participated in sports club activities until the autumn of his third year in high school, and then he hit the books and studied hard for the entrance exams. But he failed all of them for public and private universities.

He hadn’t done well on practice tests, so my husband and I advised him to aim to pass exams at universities that suited his academic level, while also taking exams for schools he really wanted to attend. But he didn’t listen to us and ended up failing every exam.

My husband is beyond flabbergasted.

My eldest son has a warm and cheerful personality, has many friends and takes good care of his younger brother. He’s the complete opposite of me and my husband, who are impatient, aggressive and ambitious. I love my eldest son as he gives me peace of mind, but he seems to be too laid-back and lacks ambition.

I’m not really sure what I should do with him.

—O, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. O:

Parents with children preparing for their entrance exams tend to feel as if they are also in a competition to get into a university.

However, children at that stage in life are difficult to handle. No matter what their parents say, it’s often just noise to them, as they are in such a delicate time in their life, I believe.

Since your son went to a private junior-senior high school, he should have had at least some idea of what taking entrance examinations for universities was like. I think calmly informing him about your position on the matter and setting specific conditions would be more helpful, such as saying that he can take a year off to study again and that the total fees for next year’s exams should not exceed ¥100,000.

Additionally, as a parent, you could tell him to carefully analyze his failed exams as a way to learn from the experience.

I’ve heard cases of young people wondering if there is any point in going to college, only to become motivated and determined to go all of a sudden, after cram school teachers told them they cannot know what college really means unless they enroll.

There have also been cases of young people terrified of disappointing their parents to the point where they couldn’t even take an entrance exam.

I think the most innocuous thing for parents to do is to always be level-headed while having a big heart when watching over their children.

— Megumi Hisada, writer