I’m Losing Sleep over My Disheveled High School Daughter

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company worker in my 40s. I need your advice about my messy high school daughter.

She has been glued to her smartphone ever since the COVID-19 pandemic when she was not able to go to school.

Since the second year of junior high school, she started taking time doing her makeup and hair. She has stolen money from the family when she didn’t have enough after wasting her own. She buys clothes, cosmetics and bags whenever she wants and throws them away when she doesn’t like them anymore.

On her days off, she spends all day in her pyjamas. She bathes only two or three times a week and doesn’t wash her face or brush her teeth.

She sometimes comes home after 11 p.m. from a concert, lying that she was just working late at her part-time job.

I’ve told her not to work so late, but she doesn’t listen and works until 10 p.m. With no time for studying, I’m not sure if she can graduate from high school. I can’t stop worrying about her and I’m losing sleep over it. I want her to move out as soon as possible.

J, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. J:

Your letter is full of complaints about your daughter. You should certainly scold her when she steals from her family when she’s short of her own pocket money.

But being interested in things like cosmetics, clothes and concerts while ignoring studying for school is a normal thing for children at her age.

I would say she is working hard on her part if she works late to earn money so she can buy things like makeup. Taking a bath only twice or three times a week, spending all day in pajamas on days off and not brushing teeth may not be the issue at hand. Maybe she is exhausted from working until late at night and this is what makes her act this way.

Of course, I understand that as a mother, you are troubled by seeing your daughter like this and can’t sleep. But I think it is rather careless to want her to move out just because you don’t like what you see.

Perhaps she is lost, simply attracted to flashy things in front of her and not thinking about the future. It is important for you to be there for your daughter, especially at a time like this.

You should take a step back and try to focus on good things about your daughter while still keeping an eye on her. I believe there are plenty of chances that she can change.

Yoko Sanuki, lawyer