It’s probably safe to say everyone has experienced the feeling of parental disappointment — whether that be as the child having disappointed your parents at one time, or as the parent expressing it. Channeling the essence of this disappointment, perhaps you’ll be able to understand — or not — what drove one parent to pen the scathing email to his kids included below.
That email, sent from retired British nuclear submarine captain Nick Crews to his three children earlier this year, has taken the UK by storm, and now it’s finally made its way across the pond and is going viral in the U.S. It’s easy to see why. The no-nonsense letter focuses on what a disappointment Crews’ children have been to him and their mother, and how they have failed both in life and their marriages.
Here are some of the most shocking passages of the nearly 700-word email that begings “Dear all three” (Note: Emphasis added):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I can now tell you that I for one [...] have had enough of being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children’s underachievement and domestic ineptitudes.
The 67-year-old went onto write that he doesn’t want any of his children to further burden their mother with their “miserable woes.” And he doesn’t want to hear from them until they have a “REALISTIC” plan that would support and provide happiness for his grandchildren.
“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.”
Crews finally ends saying, “I’m bitterly, bitterly disappointed.”
Now, we know what you’re thinking. No, Crews did not publicly release the email himself. The New York Times columnist David Brooks notes that it was released by one of Crews’ daughters who is drumming up publicity for her book.
This email, as Brooks put it, has made Crews a “popular folk hero.” But Brooks doesn’t see how such a letter or threat will lead to change, aside from being “emotionally satisfying” to the parent. He wrote:
People don’t behave badly because they lack information about their shortcomings. They behave badly because they’ve fallen into patterns of destructive behavior from which they’re unable to escape.
Brooks wrote that to enact change, it would be better for Crews’ to help create a plan for abolishing the bad behavior instead of just calling it out.
“Change the underlying context. Change the behavior triggers. Displace bad behavior with different good behavior. Be oblique. Redirect,” he said.
But, we all would probably agree that for Crews, as a parent of adult children, “lay[ing] down a pre-emptive set of concrete rules and rewards,” as Brooks suggests, sounds a bit juvenile.
Crews though, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph said that although he doesn’t regret sending the email and admitted that it was a relief to push send, he has some regrets from when his children were younger and about the letter going as public as it did (his daughter did ask permission though). Here’s some of what he had to say regarding the letter:
“I think that the bit about ‘copulation-driven indulgence’ was below the belt — forgive the pun — even if it did make people sit up and take notice.
“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.”
He pauses: “I haven’t done well as a father, have I?”
Even with these sentiments though, he doesn’t completely back down from his strong stance expressed in the letter. The Daily Telegraph reported that Crews blames modern society for the state of younger generations’ current mindset.
“[It's] a cancerous cocktail where on the one hand everyone is supposed to be free to do whatever they wish, but on the other we all expect protection from the consequences of our actions,” Crews said, according to the Telegraph.
Crews’ son, who told the Daily Mail last week that he hasn’t spoken to his father since (in fact only Emily, the one who released the letter, is speaking with the parents), wouldn’t necessarily agree with his father.
“My father made me who I am today and I think he did a good job,” Fred Crews said. “I do not leech off him, my mother or society – except for a brief stint on Job Seekers’ Allowance – nor am I a criminal of any sort. I try to keep to the values I have been brought up with.”
Still, Fred Crews told The Daily Mail he’s not speaking with his dad until he apologizes.
“He said he didn’t want any of us to contact him again until we had some good news,” Fred Crews said. “Well, if he wants us to talk to him now, then he shouldn’t have written that. That’s what needs to be apologised for.”
Here’s Crews’ full email to his children:
Dear All Three
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.
Would you agree with Nick Crews’ overall sentiments? Let us know what you think in the comments and take our poll.
Be sure to read more about Crews’ thoughts after his email went public in the Daily Telegraph’s full article here.
TheBlaze’s Jonathon M. Seidl contributed to this post.