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Context: a person is trying to convince another that having other people worry about you is a good thing.

『心配』って『勝手にさせておけばいい』ものらしいよ。してくれる人がいる時はただ素直に甘えちゃえばいいんだって。

My attempt:

"Worrying" is like "letting other people behave freely". When you have people that worry about you, you can obediently behave like a spoiled child.

Of course my translation doesn't make much sense. I found on dictionaries that 甘える has two meaning: behave like a spoilt child and take advantage of. I don't think it is the second one, but the first one doesn't make sense either, how can you behave like a spoilt child in an obedient way? About 素直に, all its meaning are similar to obediently. Can it be interpreted in a different way that I'm not getting here? I think that the general meaning of the sentence is "When you have people that worry about you, you can relax and do what you want (without worrying yourself)", but I'd like to understand the specific meaning of the words used. Please also correct the translation of the first sentence if I got it wrong. Thank you for your help!

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You are taking that definition too literally. 甘える can mean "to behave like a dependent person", "not to work hard, expecting someone will eventually help you", "to financially depend on someone", "to stay within your comfort zone", and so on. And ~に甘える is also a common way to say "to accept someone's kind (offer)".

では、お言葉に甘えます。
Then I would like to accept your kind offer.

人の心配に甘える is a bit ambiguous expression. It can mean explicitly accepting someone's kind offer, or just feeling relieved by appreciating it. I'll leave two not-so-literal translations.

ただ素直に甘えちゃえばいいんだって。
You can just accept them without reserve.
All you have to do is thank them without thinking too much.

  • I see. What about the first sentence then? Now that you explained the second part, I don't think I translated the first correctly. Could you explain that too? – Marco Mar 12 '17 at 22:41
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    @Marco "勝手にさせておけばいい" means "I'll let it go", so the sentence basically means "You should not care about what others are worrying about." I'm not sure something like "let-it-go kinda thing" is a valid translation. – naruto Mar 13 '17 at 4:15

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