I’m Worried about My Socially Withdrawn Granddaughter

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 80s. I ask for your advice regarding my granddaughter, who is in her early 20s.

After finishing high school, she enrolled in a vocational school. On the day of her school’s entrance ceremony, however, her peers ignored her and said bad things about her. She soon quit school.

I tried to dissuade her, writing a letter which I handed to her. But she told me I don’t understand how she feels and decided to drop out.

Subsequently, she obtained a qualification she had hoped to acquire through distance learning. She then got a job, only to quit about six months later.

Several months have passed since then, but she does not appear to be searching for a job. She talks with her family normally and helps around the house but cannot even go to a convenience store alone and secludes herself at home.

Her parents have decided to watch over her until she starts feeling up to it, and they told me not to say anything. I’m worried and feel terrible every day because my granddaughter may have no idea what to do and is just letting the days pass her by.

What can I do to help her live as who she is and as part of society?

R, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Ms. R:

Your worries may be cornering your granddaughter and her parents. When someone withdraws themself from society, it is that person who suffers the most.

How distressed she must be, being unable to make a step forward even though she wants to do something and fearing the future. Seeing her anguish up close, her parents must be watching over her with a great deal of resolve.

You say you want your granddaughter to live as “who she is and as part of society.” Do you mean you want her to live as someone who accepts herself?

Your granddaughter is in the process of walking that path right now. When her classmates ignored and badmouthed her, you may have wanted her not to feel dispirited.

But being able to feel hurt is one of the qualities that makes her so precious. Perhaps you could have told her that those classmates were in the wrong and there is nothing wrong with her.

What can give her power more than anything is to be accepted for who she is by people dear to her. Life is like ascending a very long flight of stairs. There are times when one cannot run up the stairs in one go.

Please wait for her and understand that your granddaughter is currently trying to get herself back while resting on a landing.

Masami Ohinata, university president