My parents refuse to return my bankbook to me

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a female company employee in my mid-50s. I have a savings account bankbook that I left at my parents’ home. When I got married, my parents told me to leave it there in case I would need it in the future, saying they would return it to me someday. So I trusted them and left the bankbook and my personal seal there.

More than 20 years have passed since then, and my parents are now over 80. I have asked them many times to return it, thinking it is about time to straighten things out. But they say things like: “You talk about money and money, fussing about it. Who do you think took care of you? We won’t give it back until we die.”

The savings in the bank account is money I had saved for eight years when I was single. Apart from that, I gave my parents money for living expenses. I earned all the money saved in that account, and it does not include even ¥1 from my parents.

I work as a company employee and I am not in need of money, but since my parents are elderly, I want to get things in order. Yet, they treat me as if I’m an ungrateful child. I’m really upset, and at times, I’m so angry and sad, I can’t sleep. If you could give me some advice on what I should do, it would help.

— F, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. F:

I understand your feelings very well. It is not that you want the money, but you want your parents to be grateful to you and apologize, isn’t that it?

Actually, I not only helped my father with money, but also took on his heavy debts. Until my father passed away, he insisted that there was nothing wrong with borrowing money and never thanked me. What I think of after my father’s passing is his pride. He wanted to be appreciated by his children, but he was unable to act that way and show those feelings. I think his attitude of acting tough is the flip side of his weakness.

If you are not in need of money now, you should deal with this matter while understanding your parents’ weakness. It would be difficult to persuade stubborn parents through reason, and even if you get the money back, it would not make you feel better. If you don’t like your parents’ attitude and behavior, you don’t have to talk to them. At some point, you can also express your feelings, saying, “I want you to show me a little appreciation.”

It is up to you to forgive your parents. It is difficult, but I think you will be able to live with peace of mind if you forgive them.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor