I want to divorce my undignified husband, who spoils our son

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a nursery school teacher in my 40s, my son is repeating a year in college and I’m considering divorcing my husband since we aren’t seeing eye to eye.

One day, I saw an unfamiliar motorcycle parked at my house. My son said he borrowed it from his friend, as he needed it to get to school and his part-time job. I told him to return it as soon as possible because I didn’t want him to get into an accident. I then bought him a new car.

However, all he seems to be using the car for is going on dates with his girlfriend, who works full-time. They even moved in together a while ago.

I’m so upset and feel betrayed because I thought he would work really hard in college. He’s repeating the year as a result of doing whatever he wants, so I want to hold him accountable.

I told my son: “You can either continue going to college or drop out. If you want to continue, you need to pay the tuition yourself and give us back the car and your phone.”

Then, my husband said: “It’s normal for college students to repeat a year. Your plan is going to backfire.”

This resulted in a huge fight between me and my husband, and he said everything was my fault. I’m tired of my undignified husband, who spoils our son.

—E, Aichi Prefecture

Dear Ms. E:

Children don’t lead the lives their parents expect. After reading about your son’s behavior, he definitely doesn’t seem like an honor student, but he’s also not doing anything bad.

Recently, more and more young people are not dating anyone. Many students end their college careers by job hunting or working part-time, but I think it’s fair to say that your son has gained a lot of valuable life experience.

With that being said, your son needs to clearly understand the issues surrounding money. I think you’re right about not letting him pick and choose what he wants to do while being financially dependent on his parents.

However, the reality is that it is difficult for students to live on their own without some kind of financial support because of Japan’s current economic situation, high tuition and insufficient scholarships.

When you and your husband disagree, is it only ever about your son? If so, I think it is possible for all three of you to talk it over and find a compromise. If not, and you don’t want to live with your husband anymore, I won’t stop you from getting divorced.

Even if things didn’t go as planned, think of it as a learning experience — similar to what your son is going through — and move forward.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor