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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: What makes a family?

Rika Kayama (Mainichi)

I went and saw the movie "Logan" (opened in theaters in Japan at the beginning of June.) The movie is rumored to be the final chapter in a series about the American comic book hero Logan. He is a part of a group of mutants with superhuman powers, but for a long time, no new mutants have been born and those left are aging.

In the middle of this, the surviving mutants meet a girl, and they notice that she is the new mutant that they all have been waiting for. The girl, who escaped from a facility trying to develop new mutants to be used in combat, is being chased by people from the facility trying to take her back.

The rest of the movie where the group of mutants as they try to escape from these forces is for you to see, but what struck me the most was the awkward relationship between Logan and the young girl. Midway through the story, it's revealed that there is a possibility that Logan is somehow genetically the girl's father. However, the solitary Logan doesn't immediately show any outward signs of caring for the girl as his daughter. Being raised at the facility and having never known parental affection, the girl also cannot easily warm to other people.

However, while trying to outrun their foes, something of a sense of camaraderie between Logan and the girl naturally begins to blossom. Even then, though, the feelings never quite progress far enough for them to call each other "father" or "daughter," which is also interesting.

When you really think about it, aren't parent-child relationships in the real world the same way? In my examination room, I have mothers who lament, "Even though it's the child that I gave birth to myself, I somehow can't bring myself to love them unconditionally." When I ask men what kind of relationship they have with their children, I often get "I have no idea what they are thinking" or "they're colder than a stranger" as answers.

Of course, there may be many fathers and mothers with good relationships with their sons or daughters, but I feel I can more easily understand "Logan style" families, where just because two people are related doesn't mean that they immediately have amazing chemistry with one another.

Perhaps families are not "families" right from the start, but are built on a variety of shared experiences that little by little allow one another a glimpse into the mind of the other, which eventually allows them to "become a family." Thinking about it that way, then I feel that the relationship between Logan and the little girl in the movie isn't so unusual after all.

"Right now things feel a little unnatural" or "I feel we are a bit distant." Even when we find ourselves feeling this way, by caring for the other person and talking openly about our own feelings, we can work toward fostering a better relationship between parent and child, or even husband and wife. That kind of "Logan style" family is wonderful too, isn't it? (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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