Archive

ShareThis Page
Hax: Son’s wish to enlist in Marines angers parent | TribLIVE.com
More Lifestyles

Hax: Son’s wish to enlist in Marines angers parent

Carolyn Hax
| Sunday, November 9, 2014 9:00 p.m.

Dear Carolyn:

My 20-year-old son wants to enlist in the Marines. He is a smart kid who was accepted to several good colleges and chose not to go. If he wants to go into the Marines, I would like him to go in with a college degree, but he refuses. I have also asked him to consider another branch of the military, but he refuses. I am dead-set against this, but he says it is his life.

Saying “It’s my life!” and expecting us to support his decision seems unfair, in the same way that if I were to head to Africa and start working with Ebola patients, admirable as that might be, my family would be justified in feeling angry, worried and sad. Help me frame this issue in a way that I can get through it.

— Aching Already

Worried, of course; sad … OK. Angry?

If someone you loved risked his or her life to help others, someone who wasn’t shirking other life-and-death responsibilities to offer that help, you’d be angry?

I’m sorry, I can’t join you there. Anger is for mistreatment. Recklessness. Inconsideration. Defiance.

The people who volunteer for hazardous duty in service of causes greater than themselves, to my mind, are models of conscientiousness and respect.

Anger exposes a boundary issue: He does something for himself, and you see it as something he does to you.

Your son might have other objectives here — yes, possibly to escape overbearing parents.

But because you’re clearly terrified of losing him, please realize you can’t stop him — but in trying, you can surely drive him away.

Hi, Carolyn:

A good friend has a milestone birthday soon. Her husband has rallied people to help plan a party, which I believe he is paying for. The chosen planners are Birthday Girl’s Best Friend, Sister, me and Husband. The first two are big-time spenders, as is Birthday Girl. They go all out: catering, live band, photo booth, etc.

The spending is occasionally a point of contention between Birthday Girl and Husband. Husband and I are more of the backyard-bash type, although we’ve devised ways of making it look classy without breaking the bank.

Best Friend and Sister are about to throw in the towel and host their own party, because Husband doesn’t want to spend the kind of cash they’re talking about.

The girls called me to say they hate his ideas. I told them they need to talk to him. I won’t get in the middle. Is there anything else I can do?

— No Drama Please

Suggest to all the following: Husband decides the maximum he’s willing to spend, then hands it to Best Friend and Sister, who plan the party from there. They can choose to stay within the budget or add to it themselves.

Therefore, Birthday Girl gets her kind of party, Husband doesn’t get stuck with the tab for things he deems wasteful, Best Friend and Sister don’t have to chafe under anyone else’s idea of excess, and you avoid drama. Deal?

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.