I’m secretly afraid about following in the footsteps of my parents

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female technical school student in my teens. I’ve lived in a troubled home environment since I was little.

I was born when my mother was 19. She got divorced two years later but remarried when I was 7.

My grandmother, who cared for me until my mother remarried, was a zealous follower of a new religion and was mentally unstable. My mother, raised by this grandmother, has a short fuse.

As my parents are always quarreling, I have tried to mediate their quarrels and appease them. To be honest, I want to run away from it all. My biological father seems to be addicted to gambling and burdened with a large debt now. I have only ever been surrounded by such hopeless people.

I withdrew into myself and spent most of my time at home when I was in elementary and junior high school. Thanks to a part-time job I took when I was in high school, I came to enjoy interacting with others. Nevertheless, I was a helpless case.

I have a dream of building a warm home, using my parents as a cautionary tale. But then I think of how I may follow the same path as my parents and someday become a poisonous parent myself, and it makes me worried and distressed.

H, Kyoto Prefecture

Dear Ms. H:

You are by no means a helpless case. You are like a single flower blooming bravely and beautifully in the wasteland.

I think it is no exaggeration to say that your being toyed with so much by your parents and grandmother since you were little and deprived of a free and easy childhood is akin to psychological abuse.

Despite all this, you have been trying to find hope in life. I was moved when I had the honor of reading your letter seeking advice.

Victims of child abuse or neglect are thought to go on to abuse or neglect their own children when they become a parent, patterns that are also called the intergenerational cycle of child abuse. Yet, that is not an absolute truth.

“Even when you have not been blessed with the affection of your parents or family, you can get back on your own feet should there be someone, even one person, who watches over you and supports you.” This is what a child abuse survivor told me. I believe you are one such example.

Through your part-time job experience, you have come into the hope of living your life positively. This is because you have not given up on your own life and so have the power to live for all you are worth. This is an irreplaceable treasure.

Please cherish this treasure. And please continue to bear a strong will to build a warm family and live a happy life. I will pray for your success and cheer you on.

Masami Ohinata, university president