'Is everything related to my kid's development my fault?'

Dear Troubleshooter:

I'm a female part-time worker in my 30s raising two children. My older child in primary school has developmental problems. The younger child goes to a nursery school. I'm sick and tired of people blaming me for every problem involving the younger child.

When my younger child had a fever for consecutive days, a doctor told me it stemmed from my absence. I was out only two days a week for my part-time work.

Regarding the child's left-handedness and unsuccessful efforts to switch to the right hand, a nursery school teacher told me the school can't help in the matter and I should have taken measures when the child was younger. The teacher also blamed me for the child's lack of calm, telling me to pay more attention to the child.

I've put a lot of effort into raising my children. In practice, however, I couldn't spend enough time caring for my younger child because taking care of the older one consumes a lot of my time and energy. I'm very sad, because I feel like I've been labelled a failure as a mother.

I've asked my mother for advice so far, but I can't do it now because she's in the hospital. My husband is cooperative in raising our children, but doesn't do anything about my worries except listen to me.

N, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. N:

Mothers are very important to children, who, however, are also supported by many other people while they're growing. I can't believe some people still insist that mothers take all responsibility for their children.

Reading your letter, I recalled that my two daughters simultaneously had a cold when they were very young.

When I told a pediatrician that my carelessness had resulted in their colds, the doctor said: "Don't blame yourself that way. It was caused by a viral infection. It's not your fault."

I still remember I was so grateful to hear that, I almost choked with tears.

After that, I thought more often about what I could do for my children. As a result, I not only came up with improvements but also noticed many things I couldn't cope with alone. I therefore became able to consider whom I should ask for help and how.

You've done your best, so be confident in yourself. Although you may be often upset by the negative opinions of people around you, take them as favourably as possible as a kind of advice for your children's sake.

To have this mind-set, don't try to cope with everything by yourself but find people who will support you. You can certainly meet someone who appreciates your efforts at a child-rearing support centre in your neighborhood. I'm one of these supporters for mothers involved in such activities.

Masami Ohinata, professor