A Dad's Email To Adult Children Explains How Very, Very Disappointed He Is In Them

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by AmericanGirl, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

  2. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    There was an op-ed in this past Sunday's NY Times about this very article. husband pointed it out to me, because my particular style is very much like the father who wrote the letter, while husband's is very diplomatic (aka avoidance-driven). The NY Times piece indicated that while it may all be true, and that the dad was right to be disappointed, that letter, however, was not a display of good parenting. Apparently, pointing out negatives and failures doesn't do one darn thing to bring out positive change in a person. If you read between the lines of the letter, the dad references that his (adult) kids always complain about their problems, but never heed any advice given by the mom or the dad. The psychologist critiquing the letter in the Times pointed out that to do so now, would also be out of character for the children.
    All I know is this man did not publish the letter - it was sent privately to his 3 kids. It was harsh, but necessarily so because there are grandchildren involved. in my opinion the dad was also trying to protect his wife from further anxiety caused by her grown children. I'm with the dad on this one, 100 percent. He was civil, not abusive, but direct. Only sad thing is, he was too late - it didn't make one bit of difference.
    And I disagree with the psychologist about pointing out negatives in the hopes of expecting a change of behavior. When you work and get a yearly review, if you've not hit all your goals, etc., doesn't your manager clearly state negatives and the expectation that things should be corrected? Aren't you expected to change or risk getting fired? I guess it's human nature to love praise and hate criticism, but I think the pendulum has swung too far.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I actually see the father's side. The older I got as an adult, the more I sheltered anything bad in my life from my father because I only wanted him to see me as good. I didnt want him to be disappointed in me.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    CJ... If you're up on the latest management techniques, you'll know that negative job evaluations are a major cause of additional problems at work. NONE of us responds well to negative criticisms. Critique my work, sure. Provide a balanced picture of strengths and weaknesses, along with some ideas that might help, sure. But... a blast of negative? just feeds more negative.

    Protect your wife from the kids' rants? sure. I'm on-side with that part.
    But... if you haven't given your children the values and skills they need to "succeed" in life before they are 25, the are NOT going to get them from some negative email or letter or family meeting. And no, paying big bucks to private schools does NOTHING to prepare them for real life. Sorry. Sounds like "rich dad" syndrome to me... he "spent all this money" and "isn't getting enough back". Your kids are not a financial investment. They are a human investment - you give YOURSELF to the raising of your kids. Can't say for certain that he didn't do any of that, but I'll guarantee you he didn't come within a million miles of my husband on that front.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    My thought is that while dad's complaints may have been valid, he shouldn't have waited until his 3 children had 5 marriages and 4 divorces between them to speak up. He seems to have burned his bridges, which if that was his goal I can certainly sympathize with in some situations. I do hope that he ran this by his wife before he sent it, and that she was ok with it. They may never see their grand babies, and that may have made this letter not worth the effort.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    What Witz said........Someone should have sent that Dude a book on EFFECTIVE communication.......LONG ago.
  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    The father seems to recognize his failing, though. Here is a comment he made when being interviewed for the Daily Telegraph:
    'I bought into the fashionable philosophy of not interfering; letting the children find themselves. When they were getting into trouble -- at school, or later with their relationships -- I would just bite my lip and tell myself, ‘Don't butt in, it's their lives.' I was trying to express my frustration at these wonderful grown-ups who had yet to make the best of what they had. They have read the criticism, but not seen the enduring love through the lines.... I haven't done well as a father, have I?'

    Likely too little too late, but the introspection doesn't hurt I think.
  8. IC - I had a therapist tell me that by the time kids are 12/13 years old you need to have imparted 90% of morals and values etc.. Once they are beyond that age they start making their own decisions and making their own minds up about what they believe/don't believe.

    I think as parents we have a tendency to put some or a lot of our own self worth in how our kids turn out. I understand that as I've lived it. But... I don't necessarily think that's the right thing to do. I think we need to love them, nurture them, teach them, discipline them and then they ultimately decide how they will turn out in the end. Yes, we 'write on the slate of who they are' (as per Dr. Phil) but they make the final decisions.

    It's hard not to look at yourself as a failure if your children do not turn out to be successful but I think there are a lot of kids that turn out to be successful in spite of their parents, as well.

    I think this Dad tried his best for his children and feels like a failure because he feels that they have failed. They have failed to live up to his expectations. He thought he set a good domestic example for them to follow and they chose not to follow it, as well as not following his successful career example. It is so hard to realize that our children have the right to make decisions for themselves and our dreams may not be their dreams but that is ok. Now, having said that, they made their choices and should not burden their parents with the whining and complaining about their situations.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    WTWS... Given that most of "our" kids are 4+ years behind in maturity? Any of those age-based rules go out the window. But even for NT kids? I don't believe that is true. Core values start at birth, yes, but the first most critical parenting age is 0-6 years, and the second most important parenting age is 12-18. Critical thinking can't be taught until they develop some maturity. Key skills for doing well in life, perspective, balance, all sorts of things... are NOT absorbed "by the age of 12/13". They can't be - the kid isn't ready for that kind of thinking.