My Mother is in the Hospital and My Father Wants Me to Do His Chores

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my late 30s, and I live with my husband. I need advice about my father.

My parents live an hour away by car from us. Recently, my mother was admitted to the hospital. My father does not want to do household chores, and he asks me to come to his house.

He told me to come just once a week, but he does not know how to use the stove, microwave, rice cooker or washing machine. He does not do the dishes. He leaves leftover food out. To take care of this, someone needs to visit him at least three times a week.

Housekeeping and other types of assistance are not available because their house is located in an area not covered by such services.

When I explained the situation to my father, he got mad at me and said, “Because the woman who is supposed to take care of me isn’t doing her job, I have to go through a lot of inconvenience.”

My husband said to me, “If you want to look after your father that much, I might have to consider a divorce.”

I would not be in such a terrible situation if my father did housework on his own. How can I make him do it?

L, Iwate Prefecture

Dear Ms. L:

From the perspective of a person who bluntly says his wife has to take care of him, his daughter would appear the same as his wife. That is quite unreasonable, and it must be difficult for you.

Many elderly people live alone without the help from others. It is his responsibility, yet he does not take care of himself at all despite the fact that he has no physical or mental problems. Even if he cannot live a comfortable life as a result, that is his choice, isn’t it?

You are his daughter. However, you must remember that you are already independent from your parents and live your own life.

Therefore, you need to make clear what is important to you now. Is it your father, mother, husband or your job?

Everything may be important to you, but you have to decide your priorities in light of the fact that your husband has told you that he might consider a divorce.

If you want to prioritize protecting your husband and your current family, you should go to your parents’ house just once a week, decide how long you stay there and do only what you can do in the defined time frame. You should clearly tell your father that you will not do more because you have to protect your own family.

Never forget what you value in your life, including yourself.

Tomomi Fujiwara, writer