My Daughter Wants to Take a Leave of Absence from University, But I’m Worried About the Idea

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s and want to ask your advice about my daughter, who is a junior at university and living alone. She said she wants to take a year off from school to rebuild her life.

She went to a psychotherapist. She apparently thought that she could convince us to think that her taking a temporary absence from school would be inevitable if she were ill. She was diagnosed with symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is showing signs of depression. I don’t think her request is compelling, and my husband is of the same opinion.

Until her sophomore year amid the coronavirus pandemic, she had taken part in clubs and usually attended classes. However, once club activities got into full swing, she started coming home late at night and going to school late. She just barely passed her classes.

She said she wants to get back on track because she is having trouble writing reports and attending classes. Even so, she said she wants to keep doing club activities during her absence from school.

I have been strict with her in all aspects of her life and am concerned this may have affected her mentally. Is there nothing else I can do but let her take a leave of absence and watch over her?

— Y, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Ms. Y:

Students currently in their junior year were forced to live an inconvenient life because the pandemic hit just as they were admitted to school and they couldn’t attend classes in person for a long time.

A psychiatrist who is familiar with mental development told me that life has returned to normal for an increasing number of children and students, but some have stopped attending school because educators have overloaded them with classes and events to catch up with past delays.

Your daughter saw a psychotherapist, saying she was having trouble, which suggests that she wants to get well. The fact that she wants to keep going to club activities shows that she thinks it’s not right to live as she is. Can’t you think of it as a rehearsal for her to slowly rebuild relationships with others and fully reintegrate into society?

The strict upbringing may have affected your daughter’s mental health. But, no matter how unreasonable you may have been in raising her, she will be OK because she has the mental flexibility to look at herself objectively and try to rebuild from an unstable mindset.

Disease names appear one after the other in your letter, but your daughter’s words are healthy and hopeful.

I know you are worried, but please watch over her without saying anything for a while.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer