My Daughter Steals from Me to Feed Her Idol Obsession

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 50s working for a company. Since getting divorced in my 30s, I’ve raised my daughter by myself. She’s in her mid-20s and has been hopping from one job to another.

Since high school, she’s been obsessed with so-called “chika idols,” who are relatively unknown idol singers who perform at small venues, and spends her entire salary on them. She’s even begun to steal my jewelry and brand-name bags for money and goes to their concerts every day.

When I told her I couldn’t live with a thief anymore, she got angry and said she had nowhere to go. Whenever she accumulates debts, I am the one who has to pay them off. She doesn’t even help with living expenses, let alone repay the debts. It seems she is borrowing money from various places.

I recommended that she visit a psychiatrist, but she doesn’t listen. I’m exhausted from living with my daughter, who is drowning in debt and is probably addicted to seeing these idols. But I can’t abandon her. What should I do?

J, Tokyo

Dear Ms. J:

Clearly, you are very concerned about your daughter. I think you are a kind and thoughtful person. That’s why you are worried about her future and taking precautions to ensure that nothing bad happens to her.

However, please think about this calmly. Is there a possibility that you are enabling her unhealthy behavior?

Your daughter may be harboring some emotional distress, leading her to repeat such actions. However, by ignoring her theft and paying off her debts without asking for repayment out of pity, you might be signaling to your daughter that her actions are acceptable.

Labeling it as an addiction will not solve the problem. What is needed here is for your daughter to realize that her actions are unacceptable and she must confront the issue. You need to stop cleaning up her mess so she can recognize that what she is doing is wrong.

Of course, it is difficult to make decisions and be firm with your daughter by yourself. Do not deal with this alone. Talk to someone you trust and find a way to truly help your daughter.

Yutaka Ono, psychiatrist