My Tyrannical Father Will Need Care as My Mother Died, But I Feel No Love for Him

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a female part-timer in my 40s, and I am looking for advice on how to deal with my father, who is in his 80s. For as far back as my siblings and I can remember, he has had an overbearing personality, which hasn’t changed even today.

If my father doesn’t like something, he resorts only to yelling. He was always keeping a close watch on my mother, and if she went out and came home in the evening, he went into a foul mood, raised a hand against her, and even cheated on her.

From the outside, he looks like a fine person, almost abnormally so, and people who do not know him well will comment on how he is “a good father.” He bossed my mother around to do household chores, and I suggested she divorce him many times.

My mother recently passed away, and my father now says: “I miss her. If she could only be with me.” I think of how miserable she was, and I cry because I feel so upset and frustrated for her.

Seeing how he is still domineering and unwilling to listen to others, I have no desire to help him in his daily life.

The only thing I am grateful to him for is that financially, he allowed us to live a middle-class life. However, it makes me sad that, even though he is my father, I just can’t love him.

He is getting older, and even though he tries to act strong, it is getting harder for him to do everything by himself. Please let me know how I should face this.


Dear Ms. Q:

It is shocking to hear that your father was emotionally and physically abusive, and even had affairs.

It is the trifecta of evils of being an unfit parent. By being the tyrant at home, it allowed him to maintain a feeling of dominance while acting as a good person with the outside world.

You say you are grateful that he “allowed us to live a middle-class life.” But please keep in mind that that was only made possible because of the sacrifices made by your late mother.

Given that, does it really make you sad that you cannot love your father?

From what you have written, I can feel the love and compassion you have for your mother. When it comes to love for a parent, I would think that that would be enough.

I think it’s fine if you continue as is and keep your distance, but at some point, it is possible that your father will try to reach out to you.

Taking care of someone without feeling love or gratitude becomes a source of extreme stress. I would like you to ask yourself: how far are you prepared to go to support your father?

Tomomi Fujiwara, writer

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2023)