Single mom hires man to be young daughter's fake dad "indefinitely"
One mom hired an actor to act as her young daughter's fake dad after her divorce. However, she has no plans to stop—even saying that she wants him to act as a grandfather when her daughter gives birth.
Divorce is a trialing and tough time for all parties involved. However, more often than not, it’s the children who suffer the most. One divorced Japanese mom, however, desperate to see her daughter smile again, used an extreme solution: hire fake dad for her daughter.
Little Megumi grew up without her dad
Little Megumi’s parents parted ways after her birth. She stayed with her mom, but her dad vanished from her life.
As Megumi grew, she realized that other kids had someone in their lives she didn’t—a father. So she started asking her mom, Asako, questions. The little girl even blamed herself for her father’s disappearance.
Not wanting to let down her daughter, Asako told Megumi the dad she longed for is finally returning. It was only a matter of time before Megumi met her father, Yamada. In fact, she met him quite regularly.
Except … “Yamada” isn’t Megumi’s biological dad.
When Megumi was around 10 years old, and still without answers for questions about her dad’s disappearance, she stopped speaking to her mom, quieted down and became very reserved.
Apparently, other than her self-blame, Megumi’s peers were also bullying her in school and excluding her since she was brought up by a single mom.
In Japan, it’s common for kids of single parents to be stigmatized.
Things got so bad she gradually didn’t want to attend school anymore.
Asako was heartbroken at her only child’s withdrawal. She approached teachers in school, but it didn’t help. Then a new idea struck…
“Why not hire fake dad?”
Asako wondered if she could search for a “man who was nice and kind, an ideal father” who could lift up Megumi’s spirits.
In Japan, there are rental agencies where you can rent people to act certain roles, such as guests in a wedding. Asako soon contacted one and requested to hire fake dad.
After interviewing five candidates, Asako ended up choosing Mr. Takashi.
“I found him the easiest to talk to,” Asako says. “He’s very kind and sweet, so I just followed my instincts,” explains Asako.
Takashi manages a rental agency made up of men and women from a variety of backgrounds and age groups. His staff act out nearly any situation. They use fake names, personalities and roles. Much of the work comes with deceit—but they take great care not to offend anyone.
Takahashi is an experienced actor, having played boyfriends to even bridegrooms. His inspiration comes from Holly wood movies, where he studies how characters speak and interact.
That gave him ideas on how to act out the role of a dad or husband, as it helps him “understand different family dynamics and relationships.”
Yamada: the return of Megumi’s “dad”
Asako frequently talked to Takashi, where they discussed how he was supposed to act as Megumi’s dad.
To summarize, Asako simply wanted Takashi to apologize that he was unable to be part of Megumi’s life. In addition, she also requested him to listen to anything Megumi wanted to say about him.
Then, pretending to be Megumi’s biological dad, Asako informed the little girl that he married someone else and started a new family. However, he contacted her as he missed them.
At first, Megumi was astonished. But it was only a matter of time until she agreed to meet him.
Now, Takashi continues to play the role of Megumi’s dad: his longest, and most morally questionable act yet.
Takashi hasn’t forgotten the first time he met Megumi. He says that he “felt her resentment” when “she asked me why I hadn’t come to see her” all these years.
“Yamada” visited Megumi and Asako a few times each month. He’d go to the cinema or birthdays with them.
It wasn’t long till Megumi’s negative outlook improved. Asako mentioned she was “much happier and more outgoing.” Megumi also “loved to talk,” “was lively” and had looked forward to going back to school.
Megumi’s positive change after hire fake dad
Although Takashi’s rental fees are rather pricy, Asako still continues to hire fake dad. She feels the money was worth spending.
Even Takashi noticed Megumi’s change from the silent, hesitant girl she was at their initial meeting. He says that she slowly “became happier and more confident.”
Takashi usually sees her with Asako. However, one time Megumi wanted to enjoy the outdoors with her dad. So Takashi accompanied her outdoors—which was the first time she held his hand.
Throughout those 10 years, Megumi’s dad, “Yamada,” has become very close to Megumi, who is now a young adult.
He isn’t a stranger to the family anymore. He also says “I love you” to Megumi like any other dad.
When a lie becomes too real
What reasons does Mr. Takashi give for his actions?
Everyone is human – even Takashi feels guilty saying that he loves Megumi as her dad. But he continues doing what he has to by constantly reminding himself that it’s all in the name of business.
Asako also knows that people won’t accept her decision because it is quite extreme. However, she was desperate to see her daughter happy again
What makes matters worse is that Asako also feels connected to Yamada, the fake character Takashi acts out for money.
She admits that she feels “at peace when the three of us are together”. Furthermore, the pair also “talk, laugh and are very kind to each other.”
Takashi has been part of Asako and Megumi’s life for so long that she actually wants to “marry him and become a real family.”
She says she has told Mr. Takashi about her feelings. However, he responded bluntly, saying “that he’s with us because it’s his job. It’s very complicated,” says Asako. “I’m very aware that he’s only with us because we’re paying him.
Sometimes Asako imagines that she and Takashi can someday become a legitimate family. But she’s also content even with “Yamada” now, because it “keeps her emotionally and mentally stable.”
This whole situation is fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas. What if the girl’s real father were to come back one day? How will she react when she realizes it’s all a big lie? How can Takashi’s business even be considered ethically correct?
While we ponder these questions, one thing is certain — a mother will do anything to keep her child happy.
Tips to help your daughter through divorce
Parents, divorce is a trialing and tough time for everyone—especially the child. There are ways to help your daughter through the emotional pain, apart from hiring a fake dad.
Consider the following tips:
1. Share their hobbies
Children will get into hobbies to cope. They will withdraw. Whatever they’re into, it helps if you enjoy it with them and become invested/interested in what they’re interested in. A friend said she enjoyed cooking with her mom, and that helped her deal with the separation.
Talking to kids about what interests them helps, she also said. Not just ranting about life or work or about how it would be better if the other parent was there.
You don’t have to say anything. Don’t pretend to know how it feels. You don’t. Their feelings and your feelings are different. So listen, and listen closely. Just listen. Be there for them.
3. Lead by example
Though this might not apply to all, a visibly happier and more active parent post-divorce does comfort some children concerned about their parents’ well-being.
4. Take the weight off their shoulders
The eldest child will often feel undue pressure to become a surrogate parent to their other siblings because one parent is gone. So ease their burden. Let them be children and remind them to have sibling time apart from teaching time.
5. Tell your kids it’s not their fault
Children might sometimes feel they’re the reason for the separation. So tell them, gently, that it’s not their fault.
Republished with permission from The Asian Parent Singapore