My daughter refuses to speak to me after my divorce

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m an unemployed man in my 60s. I divorced my wife this year and currently live alone in a rented apartment. I’m concerned about the relationship with my only daughter who is in her 30s. She is married and lives in Tokyo. She refuses to have anything to do with me since the divorce. I’m completely ignored and she does not even read my Line messages.

I was transferred to various places around the country when I was working and was away from my family for long periods of time. When I occasionally returned home, I was so concerned by my daughter’s poor attitude that I scolded her and sometimes even kicked her out of the house. That said, I also tried to help her in many ways while she was job-hunting.

Since I’m her father, I didn’t think she would hold such a grudge against me about past scoldings. But I guess I was wrong. She has always been close to her mother and they seem to still contact each other on a daily basis.

Am I going to have to live alone for the rest of my life? Will I ever be able to repair the relationship with my daughter?

— U, Hyogo Prefecture

Dear Mr. U:

The cause of the disconnection between you and your daughter is yourself. Unless you understand this, it will be hopeless to repair the relationship.

What exactly went wrong? The clue lies in your past “mistakes.” You probably viewed your family members based only in a vertical relationship, like a hierarchical master-servant relationship.

Without a horizontal relationship that consists of mutual respect, a man’s relationships will break down even with his wife and children. Please reflect on yourself and see what kind of attitude you have been taking toward not only your family but also others.

Now that you are retired, what you need to do is build horizontal relationships. You can find places where you can casually talk with others, such as local gatherings, hobby clubs and volunteer work. Why not join them and try to train yourself on how to get along with others?

Try to grow amicable horizontal connections with people you can meet at such places. It takes courage to change after turning 60.

You need determination to start living in a new way from now on. The mending of your relationship with your daughter will only come after that.

— Tomomi Fujiwara, writer