A retired naval officer sends an email to his three grown kids about “being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children’s under-achievement and ineptitude.”
The obvious first step is that the Guardian and Telegraph are papers for people who still write emails to their kids. So of course, anything where that generation gets to criticize the younger generation for being lazy is going to be front page news. NB: retired Naval officer=beyond reproach.
However, he’s not actually lamenting their underemployment, he’s more upset that there are four divorces and five marriages amongst the three; that six grandkids are being raised by clueless parents.
The second thing to observe is that you can read the email, which means someone released it, and that someone is the daughter. Why would she want this out? Doesn’t she realize this makes her look like a fool?
Crowdsourcing the superego means that as long as a few people say, “it’s not easy nowadays, I’d like to see that bitter old codger try to succeed in today’s world!” she gets off scot free. I’ve counted 11 such comments, and I’m not even trying. Guilt and shame evaporate. She says this is a wake up call, but she believes she was awake before the call came:
She said her father’s email did not upset her because she had already begun to turn her life around when she received it in February. She had set up a business and had started translating a French self-help book into English.
But the interesting question is why the father would be disappointed in her. She is married to a surgeon, lives in France with her three kids– why would her father consider that a failure? I’m going to assume to on old Brit being safely married is as good as safely employed. So my first thought was she was getting divorced for a second time.
But there, in the article, was a sentence I had skipped:
Yes, I lived in a beautiful house, but, under French law, I had no rights over it and felt very unsettled and worried about the future.
That struck me as a particularly odd thing to bring up, so I went hunting and found an old blog post of hers:
However, [a job agency’s] parting advice was more of a question: why would a doctor’s wife with a young baby be looking for a job anyway?
Why, indeed? I’ll tell you: Over here, marriage contracts, for those who have children from a previous marriage, are, so my husband tells me, “always” on a “separation des biens” basis. This means that I have no claim, in theory or in practice, to the house or to any of his wealth. This would be OK with me as I never intend to get divorced – but it carries with it extra pressure to make my own money, or I’ll never have anything of my own. It makes me feel kind of naked, exposed and alone. And very, very poor, despite living in a good house and having no direct money worries…
What does my husband have to say about this? Well he’s been ramming a career in translation down my throat since I was heavily pregnant with the first of my children with him. While I should’ve been adjusting to motherhood he was lecturing me at 2am about how I’d be forever invisible in France without a french qualification of some sort. I finally realised where all this negative energy was coming from when I realised how stressed he is, like all french people, about retirement. He thinks I should pay into my retirement now as, even though I would be entitled to some pension from his even if he should die, I wouldn’t get this until I’m 65.
First, she’s wrong, under French law she may not be entitled to his previous wealth (I have no idea) but she is certainly entitled to wealth made during the course of the marriage.
It’s not hard to imagine what that father must feel when he hears hysterical things like this. She should know better, he must think. Even if she is happy in her marriage, all he hears is her complain; and she moved her kids to France, where she has an unmarketable British skill set and… what happens if she got divorced again?
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