My mother passed away four years ago and now my father has decided to remarry. It seems that one of his reasons was to relieve me of the household chores.
However, I cannot be happy with my father’s remarriage because of my selfish thoughts that Mother was the better half for my father, and I am also afraid of losing
my place in the family. Since my father told me, “From now on, you need not be tied down to the family but do whatever you want,” I decided to move out to where
I had always wanted to live for a long time and started looking for a job. However, Father is against my living too far away from him. I feel like I am caught between
two choices: “Do whatever you want to do,” and “I do not want you to move away.” Will you please advise me as to what I should do?
(N.T., 26 years old, female)
Response given by Reverend Chiharu Hasegawa, Seicho-No-Ie Assistant Ordained Minister
Having lost your mother four years ago, you must be living a lonely life; however, your father must also be feeling very lonely, even more so than you. After your mother passed away, your father may have wanted to relieve you of the household chores you were so busy with, and also out of loneliness, he decided to remarry. Contrary to expectations, men do get lonely, and I believe your father, too, must have felt lonely. However, the person your father chose to marry will be a stepmother to you and I believe that you, too, must have mixed emotions. The fastest way to bring harmony to your relationship with your father and stepmother is to change your thinking.
Here is a view expressed in an essay, “In and Around My Father, Shuhei Endo,” by Noriko Endo, daughter of the writer, Shuhei Endo. “One day when I came home from kindergarten, a lady in the neighborhood stopped me and said, ‘Noriko, your mom is a mama-haha (stepmother) so it must be hard living with her.’ I did not understand what she was saying, so as soon as I reached home I asked my stepmother, ‘Mother, what is mama-haha?’ She replied, ‘Well, she is a mother (haha) who is also a ‘mama’ to you, therefore, she is twice as wonderful as an ordinary mother.’ (Ed. Note: In Japanese mamahaha means stepmother. Mama means ‘successor’ and haha means ‘mother;’ therefore, through a play on words her stepmother cleverly explained its meaning.) When I heard that, I understood that my stepmother was not only a mother but also a “mama,” so she was twice as good, and I was greatly relieved. When I reflected on it, I knew it was my mother’s broadmindedness that saved the family. As broadminded as she was, she must have suffered a lot, twice as much as a ‘mama’ and as a ‘mother.’”
n this manner, it was the broadmindedness of a mother that saved the home. As broadminded as she was, we can say with absolute certainty that her stepmother must have suffered and endured hardship twice as hard as a “regular” mother. People tend to become self-centered when dealing with something. They blame their difficulties on others and do not realize that others are troubled and suffering just as they are. Likewise, I believe your father is having difficulties and suffering in order to protect you and his home. You must understand your father’s feelings. Only then will you become an even more wonderful person than you are now.
Seicho-No-Ie does not say mamahaha “step-mother” but calls her tsugihaha “successor mother.” We teach the importance of being grateful to tsugihaha since when seen from the spiritual standpoint she may be physically different, but she is succeeding the ideal as a mother. Also, in the “Divine Message of Grand Harmony” it says, “Those who are grateful to God but cannot be grateful to their parents are against the Divine Will.” I believe you do not know what to do caught between your father’s two choices: “Do whatever you want to do,” and, “I do not want you to move away.” Either way, both come from the unchanging emotion of your father’s love toward you. Also, when you are beset by various problems, the important thing for you to do is to leave everything up to God.
Regarding this matter, the following is in Shinpan Seikatsu no Chie 365 Sho, “365 Golden Keys to Wisdom of Life,” by Reverend Masaharu Taniguchi. “You may worry, get angry and be upset, but it will not help you in any way to solve your problems. This will lead you to even greater difficulties in solving the problem. Instead, with a peaceful mind, delve into the core of the problem by clarifying its mental reason and eliminating it. At the same time, turn your mind toward God, practice Shinsokan meditation and pray to receive the wisdom that guides you to solve the problem.” (p. 18)
Shinsokan is a special meditation taught at Seicho-No-Ie. Please inquire at the Missionary Area headquarters in your neighborhood and learn how to practice it. When you leave everything in the hands of God and become grateful from the bottom of your heart to your father, your late mother, and your new mother, a world of harmony will surely unfold before you. And the relationship with your father will manifest in a perfect condition and the path for you to take will become clearer.
From Riso Sekai (Ideal World), JJuly 2007, pp. 60-61
©Reverend Chiharu Hasegawa