My daughter singles out oldest child, is abusive toward him

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 60s and I’m concerned about my daughter, who is currently on maternity leave and is caring for three children. I’m worried because she only gets emotional when she scolds her eldest son, a first-grader in elementary school.

She’ll say, “Get out of my house,” “If you don’t leave, I’ll take your younger siblings and leave,” and other awful things that could be considered verbally abusive toward my grandson. Even during meals, she’ll say, “You can’t eat that!” and won’t let him eat until he apologizes. She says he “isn’t cute” or that they “just don’t get along.” Meanwhile, she is calm and collected toward her second child and completely dotes on the youngest.

My daughter was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an adult, and my son-in-law is incredibly busy with work. So, to help her out, I go to her place twice a week from the afternoon until the evening. Then, on one weekend day, I will take the two older children, make them dinner and bathe them before my husband drives them home.

Please tell us what we can do to help our daughter and grandchildren.

—K, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

You need to act quickly, not only for the sake of your daughter’s family but for you and your husband as well.

Regarding your grandson, I can’t imagine how hurtful it must be for him to receive that kind of abuse from his mother on a daily basis. It’s more serious than adults realize.

Your daughter is not alone in not being able to love her first child. It’s not uncommon for parents to say they can’t seem to love their first child because they are not used to raising a child, or they are irritated because the words and actions of the oldest child seem more mature compared to the innocence of the younger ones. However, the question is whether your daughter is aware of how her actions are affecting her child. Since she also has ADHD, I think she needs to consult a professional about raising children.

On the other hand, you and your husband are doing everything you can. So, I’m worried that you two may wear yourselves out, both physically and mentally, if you continue like this. When it’s a problem this serious, there is only so much that can be done on your own. I urge you to go to a health center or child family support center and seek help.

Finally, I want you to tell your grandson that his mother does not hate him but is struggling with her own issues. And please encourage your son-in-law to get more involved.

—Masami Ohinata, university president