My Son’s Room Is a Pigsty and My Husband Couldn’t Care Less

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a woman in my 60s working part-time, and I have a son who is now in his 30s. When he was a junior high school student, my husband and I gave him a room of his own, but he never tidies it up and has been hoarding all sorts of things in there for more than 20 years.

At first, I was able to get into his room to clean up, but now there is no space on the floor to even walk. It is as if my son just sleeps among garbage. If I enter his room, he becomes furious and yells, “Don’t come in!” He buys anime-related staff online, and it seems he cannot even throw away empty boxes and wrappers.

Even if I tell him that I want to regularly air out his futon quilts because it’s unhygienic not to, he insists I leave him alone. He has a job and works diligently, but says he has no intention to get married. I assume he is not happy with his life and have suggested that he go to some events or something, but he says, “No.”

My husband says nothing and leaves me to do everything, including looking after his parents and all money matters. During meals, he just eats in silence while reading the newspaper, and even if I start a conversation, it doesn’t last long.

I want to help my son while I am still fit and able, by tidying up his room and letting in some fresh air, but I can’t do anything unless he wants me to, right? Is there nothing I can do except watch over him in silence?

— D, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. D:

OK, so your son’s room is chock-full of anime products and many other things. It may look like piles of garbage to you, but to your son I’m sure those things are of great value. The same goes for the empty boxes and wrappers. He just does not want anyone to go through his favorite things as they please. As I have a habit of collecting many things myself, I can well understand how your son feels. How about turning a blind eye to it?

Futon need only be changed once in a while. If he tells you not to go in his room, put new ones outside it and ask him to bring out the ones he has been using so that you can air them, then he would not say “No.” You should leave it to him to clean his own room. I think that trying to get him to go to some events does not sound like a good idea, either.

Anyway, before that, your first priority should be to worry about your husband and the fact that you don’t talk on a daily basis with each other. It’s outrageous of him not to look after his parents and to be unconcerned about matters to do with money.

Before airing out your son’s room you have to educate your husband first. Perhaps your husband’s indifference to his family has influenced your son. If your husband changes his mindset, then your son will probably change his as well.

— Tatsuro Dekune, writer