My brother, Dooby, is torn. His daughter Goldilocks and her husband bought a house four years ago. Son-in-law wants to enter graduate school, and they can’t sell their house for close to what they paid for it. Dooby thinks they should get rid of the house before it and neighborhood values slide further.
“Should I write and tell her what I think?”
“Sure. She’ll welcome your advice about as much as you welcomed Dad’s.”
Our dad—the guy who worked 16 hours a day seven days a week; the guy who took thrift to embarrassing lengths; the guy who made a miserable second marriage after our mother’s death. We loved our dad, but taking his advice made less sense to Dooby and me than basing our decisions on soggy tea leaves or the position of the stars.
Not that making our own decisions worked terribly well for either of us. We’ve both pretty well blundered our way through life—making insane financial decisions and churning up marital discord along the way. No way do our kids want to repeat our mistakes—and no way do they think we’ve gained wisdom from a lifetime of spontaneous—often fun—but irrational choices.
Our grown kids don’t want coaching from us. They want cheerleading. And our kids are lucky. They’ve learned from our missteps and are free to make their own—outside the shadows cast by highly successful parents.