I haven’t been able to build trusting relationships with my kids

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 50s and it’s hard for me to think about my children.

I have always been uncomfortable around children, but my husband insisted on having them, so we had two.

However, my husband did not help out with rearing them. I became depressed while raising them on my own and was unable to bring them up satisfactorily. As a result, I have not been able to build trusting relationships with them.

My daughter dropped out of a vocational school and moved from her lodging house to another city to “live with a friend.” She earns her living by working part-time, and I have lost touch with her.

My son, a senior in high school, is an introvert and difficult to deal with. We have not been able to discuss what he wants to do with his life after he leaves school. Meanwhile, my husband is totally unreliable.

I myself had a “toxic” mother, and I grew up struggling both mentally and financially. Now when I look at ordinary people who have positive relationships with their parents and children, I feel as though I’ve been branded as a mother who failed in child-rearing.

—M, Kyoto Prefecture

Dear Ms. M:

You have been through a lot of tough times, starting from your childhood and well into your role as a mother.

I want to cover my eyes when I read the sentence, “I’ve been branded as a mother who failed in child-rearing.”

I wonder how many mothers in society have been tormented by such words. These words hurt parents like a blade, and they may also disdain the lives of the children, which only adds to the misery.

You wrote that you were not able to raise your children satisfactorily, but you tried hard to love them, didn’t you? Through that, you suffered so much that you fell into depression. The fact that you sent a letter to this column also shows your energy to do something about it.

You say that your own mother was “toxic,” and you had an arduous time dealing with her, but other than that your letter expresses no resentment.

I think you are a person who genuinely seeks love rather than hate.

We tend to look at the tip of the iceberg and fail to realize that there are bigger things lurking under the surface. This is even truer when it comes to yourself. Please be aware of your potential.

The more you can reaffirm and recognize who you are, the more you will be able to rebuild your relationships with your daughter and son. After all, the relationship between parent and child lasts a lifetime. You can definitely build new bonds that will bind your family together.

—Masami Ohinata, university president