My mom suddenly wants me to pay her back my tuition

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a company employee in my 20s. When I graduated and began working, my mother suddenly told me that I must pay her back ¥100,000 every month for my tuition. It confused me as I wasn’t told anything about reimbursing my tuition when I was a student. Still, I am paying back the amount I was told to our household.

My salary hasn’t gone up, and it’s hard to make ends meet. I’ve asked her to reduce the amount or allow me to pay later, but she won’t listen.

Whenever I ask her why she’s making me pay her back, she gives different reasons every time: It is for my future expense, or for my parents.

If the money is being set aside for my future, then I want to decide how to spend the money that I earned. However, she makes that decision on her own, and I feel depressed whenever I come home. I’m thinking of moving out, but my mother said she won’t accept it until I pay back everything.

I know it’s wrong, but I have been thinking even now whether I should just kill her or that maybe I should disappear. How can I deal with these problems?

—D, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. D:

It’s only natural for you to pay some money to your house to cover living expenses if you live with your parents after you start working. Many parents save a portion of the money without telling their children and give it to them when they need it, such as when they get married or start a business.

Your mother, however, seems to be thinking something else. You two didn’t have such an arrangement when you were a student, and yet she suddenly demanded reimbursement.

School expense is generally considered a gift and parents pay for their children, and therefore children don’t owe reimbursement, in principle.

So, why is your mother making such a demand? I can’t help but think a hint lies hidden in the words at the end of your letter: “Whether I should just kill her or that maybe I should disappear.” Money is the trigger for the problems, but there must be a disconnection between you two that is deeper than just the money issue.

When you ask me how to deal with the money problem, I can just say you have no obligation to reimburse her. However, I don’t know if that is the answer you really want. I wonder why your mother is trying to keep you there by making you pay money.

Even if you have an unspeakable feud with your mother, a third party won’t know it if you don’t articulate it. Fortunately, you can talk to us anonymously in this column. So, please take your time to think about what you really want to ask and come back to us.

—Hazuki Saisho, writer