Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

But as Long as They are Happy!





            To those who have asked, my wife and I are having a wonderful time in Israel; as usual, we are accomplishing things we hadn't planned to accomplish, and missing out on some things we had hoped to accomplish.  We spent a few days with our son, whom we hadn't seen in a little over a year, and we will likely be spending Shabbat with him.

            Oftentimes, when someone's (usually adult) child makes lifestyle decisions which do not fulfill the parents' expectations, the parent or parents resign themselves with an utterance to the effect of "But as long as they are happy, I really cannot complain."  And so, the parent(s) end up doing anything and everything to try to make the child happy, spoiling the child in the process.  Amy Fisher, Patty Hearst, Bill Ayers, the Kramer boys, and others of their ilk are often the result.

            It is good parenting to set expectations for one's child, and to communicate those expectations to the child.  It is also not unusual for one's child to deviate from those expectations to one degree or another.  Nor is it unusual for the child, in deviating from the parental expectations, to really, really get himself or herself stuck in a tough spot as a result of the child's ill-advised decisions.

            I myself made (more than) a few suboptimal decisions during my teenage and early adult years; fortunately, I was able to see the errors of my ways, and, after revising my life plans, was able to become a successful contributing member of society (and maintain a marriage nearing three decades and still going).

            If truth be told, my own son made his share of bad judgment calls.  Nothing that would put him (too much) on the wrong side of the law or anything like that, but ill-advised enough to set him on a path to nowhere.  Like his father, he also had an epiphany or two, went back to the drawing board with his life plans, and, as is now evident during our visit to him, is now on target for success in life (though not necessarily the executive suite of a Fortune 500 company).  A little dose of tough love, requiring him to live with the consequences of his decisions, can go a long way.

            Is his life simple and comfortable?  No way!  Is he happy?  Happier than he ever has been in his life, I daresay.  Are my wife and I happy that he is happy?  We are most ecstatic!

            But what makes us most happy is not that our son is happy, but that our son has shouldered some significant life responsibilities, and is successfully dealing with the challenges of adulthood on his own.

            How much longer he remains abroad has yet to be determined.  But his parents are more confident than ever before that he will make the correct decisions with his life.  And that really, really, makes us happy.

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