I feel oppressed by my ever-complaining mother

Dear Troubleshooter:

I'm a third-year student in high school, and I don't want to be at home because my mother always complains about me.

When I told her I'd like to take out a student loan if I got into a private university, she fiercely said: "Do whatever you want, but I won't be your guarantor."

As I have many siblings, I understand sending me to a private university is a financial burden for our household.

However, I'm worried about only taking entrance exams for universities run by the central or local governments.

My mother also grumbles while preparing my bento box lunch, saying, "This is so annoying."

I understand it consumes her time and energy, but hearing comments like that makes me feel bad.

When my mother gave me money to buy new shoes, I was told to return whatever money was left over, but I used the spare change to buy folders and some other necessary school items.

When my mother heard about what I'd done, she sarcastically said, "You cost a lot of money."

I want to be away from home as much as possible.

I recently started to study at the library on days off from school.

What can I do about my mother?

C, Hokkaido

Dear Ms. C:

Your mother is very stalwart.

I can picture in my mind that she is busy doing housework and raising her children all day.

She sounds like she's being mean, but she's also not saying you can't go to university.

She prepares lunch for you.

She also paid money for your new shoes.

I don't think she is such a terrible mother as you describe in your letter.

This is my honest impression, anyway.

Are you properly conveying gratitude to your mother?

You can't change her, but you can change yourself.

You should thank her every time she does something for you.

You also should be calm in reacting when she complains about you - an approach that might help her refrain from complaining in the future.

If you feel it is unbearable, retreat to the library.

Let me tell you one concern.

You assume you can't pass the entrance examinations for national or public universities.

Your mother said she wouldn't become a guarantor for you.

I suppose she meant it to encourage you to make all possible efforts before taking entrance examinations, thinking it might be your last chance.

I believe she found your half-hearted stance intolerable as someone who has probably given up all her desires to do and buy things for herself for many years because she feels responsible for the care and well-being of her family.

So you should start to do your absolute best to achieve your immediate goal.

This attitude will surely change your relationship with your mother.

Hazuki Saisho, writer