My Daughter Accuses Me of Treating Her and Her Younger Brother Differently

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my late 50s. Both my children are married and have moved out, so now I live with my mother and husband.

My daughter, who works in another prefecture, and her husband have a child. When my daughter came to visit, she said, “When we were kids, you spoiled my younger brother and were only strict with me. You treated us differently growing up.”

It seems as if my daughter is looking back on her childhood, since she is raising a child of her own. She said one reason she decided to only have one child is because she doesn’t want to treat her children unequally.

My daughter was selfish and wild during her rebellious phase. Even so, I didn’t purposely treat my children differently while raising them, and I cared for her.

When I brought it up to my husband, he wouldn’t even listen to me and said, “Don’t drag me into this problem between you and our daughter.”

I get along really well with my son and his wife. How should I deal with my daughter in the future?

— Q, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. Q:

Misunderstood feelings are a normal part of human relationships. However, when the other person is one’s child, I think dealing with this problem becomes especially difficult.

If your son and daughter had different personalities, the way you treated them as a parent was also probably different. I think your recollection of caring for both of them equally is probably true. However, I think the way your daughter feels about not being loved as much as her brother is also a reality from her perspective.

There is nothing to be gained from arguing over which side is right in this case. I think one of you will need to back down. Can you apologize to your daughter?

Even if you say you’re sorry, it does not mean that you accept all of your daughter’s grievances. You should be confident that you loved your daughter.

Even if it was not intentional, I hope you can accept the fact that your daughter felt hurt and can make the effort to help heal those wounds. You might think my idea is unreasonable, but this is for your future relationship with your precious daughter.

Speaking of unreasonable, what your husband told you is more unreasonable than what your daughter told you.

Your daughter is his child as well. For him to say, “Don’t drag me into this,” takes irresponsibility to new heights. I think this problem is one you really need to tackle.

— Masami Ohinata, university president