My parents constantly argue, drag me into their fights

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female student in my 20s and live with my parents. Recently, my parents have been fighting constantly, and it troubles me when they drag me into it.

My father tends to be psychologically abusive, and he takes out his frustrations on my mother when things don’t go his way. My mother puts up with his behavior for a while, but eventually can’t take it anymore and explodes in anger. She also brings up previous issues with him that have already been settled, thus adding fuel to the fire. I can’t stand it.

When I thought about running away to my friend’s place, my mother said, “I guess you’re running away from your problems.”

Why do I have to deal with my parents’ bickering? I’ve never seen the two calmly discuss how to solve their problems. Most of the time my father ends up apologizing begrudgingly.

My parents now just yell at each other instead of thinking how to solve their problems. They act immaturely, making me feel terrible about having parents like them.

I’ve reached my limit. What should I do?

S, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. S:

It’s really terrible to have to see your parents fight. I think you should clearly ask your parents, “Why should I have to get involved in your fights?” Why don’t you also tell them, “It makes me feel terrible to think you’re my parents” and “As I have the right to not see my parents fight and to avoid the situation, I’m going to go to my friend’s place”?

It’s also necessary to find a close and trusted adult, for example someone among your relatives or university professors, with whom you can talk to about your problems on a regular basis, while also sharing your concerns with your friends.

Some people tend to feel ashamed to talk about their family issues with others, but you can put your mind at ease by having a trusted third person on your side who supports you without gossiping.

In any case, do not hesitate to tell your parents: “It’s embarrassing to see my parents just yell at each other. I can’t see you two as adults.”

If your parents respond negatively, I think you need to mentally block them out.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 2, 2022)