My Grandson Lets His Girlfriend Stay Overnight at Our House

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 70s. I’m not working and living in a two-family home for five years with my husband, my son’s couple in their 40s and my grandchildren. My 19-year-old grandson started having his girlfriend from the same vocational school stay at our house.

My son and his wife gave permission, and at first I welcomed the girlfriend, but then she said she would stay one more night because her classes were cancelled the next day. When I asked her if her parents would worry about her, she said they were fine with it.

The second time my grandson brought her was unannounced. I know I am in a different generation from them and have old-fashioned ideas. But, when I asked the girlfriend if she has told her parents that she would stay at her male friend’s house, my son interrupted and shouted, “What an old-fashioned way of thinking!” It then became an argument. I’m not happy with the situation especially when thinking of the influence on my other grandchildren.

Later, I told my grandson, “I’m sorry for saying a strange thing,” and “Don’t you think your priority is to study hard and get a qualification, as long as you are still depending on your parents?” He only said, “I understood.” How should I look at the situation?

— I, Tochigi Prefecture

Dear Ms. I:

You know that the age of adulthood in Japan was lowered from 20 to 18 last April, right? Now, 19-year-olds can make various contracts without the consent of their parents. They also have the right to vote.

Your grandson is already an adult. Since his girlfriend tells you that there is no problem, don’t you think your grandson and his girlfriend are in a much more secure relationship than staying out overnight in an unknown place without their families’ knowledge? Your son and his wife are OK with it, probably because they like their son’s girlfriend.

But, that doesn’t mean that you have to accept the situation. You are right in your opinion that your grandchildren should study as long as they are still dependent. It is not surprising for an older generation to feel uncomfortable to see that a couple stay overnight together before marriage.

You have lived by your own ethics. You don’t have to force yourself to bridge the generation gap, and for your grandchildren, having a family member who doesn’t understand them will serve as an opportunity to take a look at their own relationship with their partners.

You don’t have to be an understanding grandmother. You don’t have to apologize. One day, your grandchildren will understand that some people worry about them because they care about them, and that is how you show your love as their grandmother.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer