I Broke Off Relations with My Parents after My Divorce

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 50s and I work as a freelancer. I got divorced two years ago because my former husband emotionally and physically abused our teenage daughter.

My parents, especially my mother, vehemently opposed the divorce. “Marriage is something women have to endure. A divorced woman will never get a job, and she will be erased from society,” she said.

My father, who initially was sympathetic to me, also denounced me, and I became mentally ill. I now have a lawyer working between my parents and me, and I’ve almost completely cut ties with them.

My mother, who apparently was raised by so-called toxic parents, too, always was mentally unstable. My father gave up on my mother from the beginning of their marriage. As their only daughter, I worked hard at my studies and jobs, while trying to fix their relations ever since I can remember.

I try my best to love my daughter wholeheartedly. However, I suffer because my parents don’t understand me. How can I make myself happy?

— G, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. G:

I am sorry to hear that your parents are troubling you because of your divorce. It is wonderful that you are working hard and raising your daughter with love. Of course, your mother’s position on the divorce is unreasonable.

It is natural to assume that your mother is unhappy in her own marriage and enduring certain conditions. It seems to me that she takes it out on you to comfort herself by spreading her unhappiness to others. To put it another way, she must be jealous of you.

Basically it is all right to avoid such people and try not to get involved with them, and you are allowed to do that.

I guess, since you are too kind, you think you should not be happy while your parents are unhappy. But it is the other way around. If you are happy in your life, your parents will soften up in order to share in your happiness.

Try to think of the hard times you have experienced as a kind of training to build the strong and gentle person you are today.

You must be blessed with kind friends and good jobs because you have done well despite the lack of a decent spouse and parents. Think about having fun with your daughter and your friends. You are still at the halfway point in life.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor