My Son Says He is Depressed Because I Coddled Him too Much as a Kid

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 70s. I am asking for advice about my son, who’s in his 40s and depressed. I recently found out that he has had endless problems since he started working.

My son started working right after college. He has been a calm person since he was a child and now has a wife and children.

At work, he has been told that he “can’t read between the lines,” is “bad at making arrangements,” “slacks off” and “misses the point” when answering questions.

Suspecting juvenile dementia or a developmental disorder, he visited a hospital and was diagnosed with stress-induced depression.

He said he has now realized that he is not motivated to think and act on his own because I coddled him too much as a child.

My son is being left out at work and is inconveniencing his company and supervisor. He is also causing anxiety for his wife and children, whom he is supposed to be protecting. All of this is in turn causing him to suffer.

If I am at the root of all this, then it’s not something that can be undone. I would appreciate your advice on what I should do.

M, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. M:

I understand your concern that your son is depressed due to stress from his job.

However, it seems to me that it is very crude reasoning to say that he has developed depression because you coddled him too much.

What is important now is not to look for the cause, but to help your son recover from his depression and lead a comfortable life. The search for a cause will never end, and while he is at it, his mind will be filled with resentment, hatred and other negative emotions, which will only delay his recovery.

What I would like you to do is not take action. Instead, assume the position of not doing anything unnecessary, only intervening when help is really needed.

If your son accuses you of having raised him poorly, I suggest that you tell him with sincerity that you raised him to the best of your ability. You can add that you may have coddled him too much, but you could not have done any better.

I think it would be best to be patient and supportive of your son and his family while they try to take care of themselves.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist