With My Parents Divorced, I Don’t Want to See My Father

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female student in my 20s, and I’m unsure how to interact with my father.

My parents divorced last year. My mother and I moved out from our home, where my father still lives, to an apartment. I’m having trouble relating to him. He says he misses me and wants to see me regularly for dinner, but I don’t feel like it.

Both of my parents work full-time, but my mother took care of all the housework when they were together. She could not stand it, and they ended up divorcing. As for me, I have always been fed up with my father’s incompetence.

It’s a pain to meet with and talk to him. He can’t take a joke and only talks about himself, which tires me out.

I don’t want to be bothered with fixing the time and place to meet him. But I also feel like it’s a bother to say “No” to him.

I have never complained about my father to his face. Since I have always had this vague attitude toward him, I think I’m also responsible for the way he acts.

I don’t want to keep making an effort after all these years to keep up our relationship, but I’m not fully prepared to sever ties with him. What should I do?

— O, Tokyo

Dear Ms. O:

Asking his daughter, who is not a school-age child but an adult, to see him regularly since he is lonely does not sound like a request from a father.

Your mother declared she wanted a divorce only because he had been dependent on his family in this way. But your father seems to have not yet learned his lesson.

You need to keep yourself busy so that your father can learn to let you be independent. You need to fill your schedule with schoolwork, lessons, part-time jobs, time with friends and your boyfriend to make him understand that you have your own life. Even when you don’t have any plans, insist that you actually have things to do. The end justifies the means.

When you have no choice but to meet your father, you must take the initiative and start talking to him before he begins complaining and whining. It would be better if you talk about your boyfriend. If he realizes that asking his daughter for help will only serve to frustrate him, he will give up someday.

A husband and wife become strangers when they divorce. However, the relationship between a parent and a child never changes.

It is important not to sever your relationship but maintain a certain distance from him. Sometimes, you should hear his complaints directly.

I think your father will calm down for the time being if you tell him that although it is difficult to see him regularly, you will call him.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer