Disappointment in one's adult child is a great literary trope, but one father's written email of his own "bitter disappointment" in his offspring has managed to go viral just in time for the holiday family warm fuzzies.
As the Telegraph reports, retired British nuclear submarine commander Nick Crews shot off a lengthy email to his three children in which he blasted them for their "copulation-driven mistakes" and collective lack of achievement despite their expensive public-school education. (British public school is a close equivalent to our private school.)
In fact, he writes, he and his wife have nothing to brag about at all when their friends list the marvelous achievements of their own children.
And most egregiously, the 67-year-old explains, that his precious grandchildren are currently shivering on a desolate ice floe of poor parenting.
"So we witness the introduction to this life of six beautiful children — soon to be seven — none of whose parents have had the maturity and sound judgment to make a reasonable fist at making essential threshold decisions," he writes.
Reflections on his own parenting never seem to enter the conversation.
Naturally, the letter shocked eldest daughter, Emily, who works as a translator for a publishing company in France. It was a conversation with her parents the night before that she believes triggered the nasty letter, even though the email was address to all the children.
But while she admits that what her father said in the email was "quite correct," she tells the Mail that his views on parenting may not mesh with 21st century values.
"They find it deeply embarrassing, the whole idea of talking to your children, having to help them or provide emotional support," she says, while adding, "None of us has been a drain on the State, none of us has got into drugs or done anything bad. None of us is lazy or has asked them for money. We've been no trouble to him financially or socially. My father's problem is disappointment."
Youngest child, Fred Crews, took a less diplomatic approach, blaming his father's tough military-based discipline for the "disappointment" he writes about today and likening him to his own disciplinarian father.
"He compared us to his friends' children and said what an embarrassment we were and how he can't boast about us," the 35-year-old hits back in the Mail. "Well, I'm sorry, but you made me. That also needs to be apologised for."
Meanwhile, Nick Crews appears to be unrepentant, telling the paper he's received letters of support from his own friends and his wife.
"My message to other parents who feel as I do is that you have a social responsibility to say your piece. I can remember my father saying things to me that I didn't like to hear."
With that social responsibility fulfilled, Crews may have to warm himself with the embers of his self-righteousness over the lonely Christmas holidays.
The full letter below (via Telegraph):
Dear All Three
I can now tell you that I for one, and I sense Mum feels the same, have had enough of being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children's underachievement and domestic ineptitudes. I want to hear no more from any of you until, if you feel inclined, you have a success or an achievement or a REALISTIC plan for the support and happiness of your children to tell me about. I don't want to see your mother burdened any more with your miserable woes — it's not as if any of the advice she strives to give you has ever been listened to with good grace — far less acted upon. So I ask you to spare her further unhappiness. If you think I have been unfair in what I have said, by all means try to persuade me to change my mind. But you won't do it by simply whingeing and saying you don't like it. You'll have to come up with meaty reasons to demolish my points and build a case for yourself. If that isn't possible, or you simply can't be bothered, then I rest my case.
So we witness the introduction to this life of six beautiful children — soon to be seven — none of whose parents have had the maturity and sound judgment to make a reasonable fist at making essential threshold decisions. None of these decisions were made with any pretence to ask for our advice.
Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped — but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting. Which of you, with or without a spouse, can support your families, finance your home and provide a pension for your old age? Each of you is well able to earn a comfortable living and provide for your children, yet each of you has contrived to avoid even moderate achievement. Far from your children being able to rely on your provision, they are faced with needing to survive their introduction to life with you as parents.
We are constantly regaled with chapter and verse of the happy, successful lives of the families of our friends and relatives and being asked of news of our own children and grandchildren. I wonder if you realise how we feel — we have nothing to say which reflects any credit on you or us. We don't ask for your sympathy or understanding — Mum and I have been used to taking our own misfortunes on the chin, and making our own effort to bash our little paths through life without being a burden to others. Having done our best — probably misguidedly — to provide for our children, we naturally hoped to see them in turn take up their own banners and provide happy and stable homes for their own children.
With last evening's crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for which you seem to treat your mother like a cess-pit, I feel it is time to come off my perch.
In each case we have been expected to acquiesce with mostly hasty, but always in our view, badly judged decisions. None of you has done yourself, or given to us, the basic courtesy to ask us what we think while there was still time finally to think things through. The predictable result has been a decade of deep unhappiness over the fates of our grandchildren. If it wasn't for them, Mum and I would not be too concerned, as each of you consciously, and with eyes wide open, crashes from one cock-up to the next. It makes us weak that so many of these events are copulation-driven, and then helplessly to see these lovely little people being so woefully let down by you, their parents.
It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.
I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.