Anyone here ever have to deal with parental opposition?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Kevin23, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Kevin23

    Kevin23 Member

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    I have ambitions to serve in the military like most other people who post on here, however my parents strongly oppose me doing so for a variety of reasons. They even get angry/upset when I bring up the issue, and they have been this way about it since my childhood.

    Some of this in my observations is due to misconceptions about the military. For example, "my mother thinks the military is only for poor people who turn to it as the only option to get ahead in life", in addition to expressing overall misconceptions about the military. While my father also strongly says no to the idea, although his opinions and feelings are more shaped by the era he grew up in(Vietnam) then I would say any misconceptions. Lastly, overriding most of what I've mentioned is that my parents perceive the armed forces as dangerous career(where members of this forum can testify to) there is truth to that. However statistically, not any more dangerous than a long list of jobs/careers in the civilian world.

    So has anybody else on here been in my situation, where parental opposition to a career in the military is strong?
     
  2. Peter

    Peter Member

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    My mom was somewhat opposed to it, wondering why I would risk my life doing something like that. I've convinced her otherwise though, so I guess she's not complaining too much anymore.

    My dad, however, was captain in the Vietnamese National Military Army and faced some pretty crazy things during his military career, one of them a 10 year sentence in a Viet Cong reeducation camp. However, he strongly supports my decision to join the military, stating that it is one of the most rewarding experiences one can ever have, as it literally builds dedicated civilians into leaders. All the hardships of the military exist to build the better person.

    Even if your parents are against the decision, it is, again, your life. Once you are 18, you are on your own, an adult, making your own decisions, for, once again, YOUR life...not theirs. Don't let them make you live your life according to the way they want you to live it because in the end, you might be happy with it, but there's also a chance of you being miserable too. Living your own life, on the other hand, allows you to try new things, see if you like them, and maybe discover a new interest.
     
  3. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Not so much parental opposition. My grandfather was opposed to the idea initially. But, he was a Ranger in Korea and spent far too many nights suffering greatly and fighting fiercely. It cost him an eye and a brother, whom he carried off the mountain. He wanted me to join the Coast Guard so I wouldn't get killed or see the things he saw.

    In the end, he was extremely proud of my choice and after I became a cadet, he finally talked to me about his time in Korea. In some ways, though, he was forced to talk about it since he was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame when I was a yearling and thus much of his story was going to be told regardless.

    There are, in truth, many folks of humble social status who join the military to "get a leg up." My best friend is just such a person. His parents were alcoholics and he grew up dirt poor, working since age 13. After fighting his way into West Point, he worked doggedly as a cadet and officer. Now he's out of the Army, starting his second year at Harvard Business School this fall. The fact that such financially poor people join the military is a credit to the military's character because it points to the fact that the military is one of the last true meritocracies that exist, and a generally egalitarian system where work and dedication are valued and socio-economic background is not.

    It's natural for parents to worry, but don't ever let anyone (even them) tell you that joining the military is an ignoble pursuit. It is one of the finest and most rewarding things to which a young man can dedicate his youth and vigor.
     
  4. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    May I ask where you live?
     
  5. Kevin23

    Kevin23 Member

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    Who me?

    I'm from Northern Virginia, specially Loudoun County.
     
  6. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Interesting. That is close to some areas with a large concentration of current and former military professionals. I find it a bit surprising that your mother has the perception she does of the military, considering she lives near and likely interacts with many who, even if no longer serving, served previously. I bet she is simply unaware that many of the most successful people she knows in the private sector chose to serve in the military before pursuing careers in other fields..and not because they didn't have other options!

    Perhaps you should ask her for the names of some of the professional people she knows personally, whom she respects and considers to be of the sort she might like you to emulate when you graduate from college. I am sure that if you researched their backgrounds, you would find many with military service. Moreover, I bet you will find a few SA grads among the most successful. That might open her eyes a bit. Even better, you might ask one of those people to speak with her and share their perceptions of the military and what it meant for their personal success.
     
  7. billyb

    billyb Member

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    I am a USMA grad and one of my friends, a USNA grad, had parental opposition. His situation was a little different. He grew up in Beverly Hills and his parents were extremely wealthy. They couldn't understand why he would want to go to USNA when he had every luxury in the world. He went, graduated, became a Navy pilot and thought it was the best decision he ever made.

    It is definitely a misnomer that all people entering the military are "poor" or don't have elsewhere to go. My friend is only one of thousands of such examples.
     
  8. AKH

    AKH Member

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    I'm from Fairfax County! :cool:

    I would recommend seeing a recruiter of any service in your area, even if you aren't considering enlisting. The ones I've talked to really care about parental influences, and had several handy brochures/literature that they said to give to anyone who doubted my commitment to the military. They also said that if my parents had any reservations they could come sit down and talk.

    Personally, my dad is a WP grad, but my mom was hesitant to think of me, a girl, as a soldier. She came around though, so hopefully your parents will as well!
     
  9. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Considering his mother's strong negative feelings, chances are that a recruiter (someone she knows has the job of "selling" the military) will not be seen by her as unbiased or even honest. That is why I suggested letting her name those people she knows and believes to be good role models and then finding out which of them has prior military service.

    If one must use someone from recruiting, contact the recruiting battalion responsible for the region and get an officer (the battalion commander, XO, a company commander, or someone from the battalion staff) to speak with her. An enlisted recruiter is not equipped to discuss the education, training, and career opportunities (both in the service and after) of an officer.
     
  10. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I'd be very careful about anything a recruiter told me. My experiences with them (I've talked to both Army and Navy recruiters at many college fairs and high schools) is that they are very un-informed when it comes to the academies. They know little about the appointment process, the nomination process, and the medical/physical requirements.

    When the conversation begins "Oh, your son is considering the Naval Academy? What's he going to do for college?" you know you're not going to get any worthwhile info.
     
  11. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    An Army recruiter, with whom I had spoken at some point, called my house during my Plebe year. When my mother told him that I was at West Point, he asked if I was "still considering the Army." :rolleyes:
     
  12. AKH

    AKH Member

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    My fault, the recruiters I and my friends have come across seemed to really know what they were doing, even concerning the academies. :redface:
     
  13. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Kevin, allow me a few sentences to pass on my advice to you about your situation. You aren't the first to have to deal with parents reluctant to support your desires to join the military, and you won't be the last. It happens all the time.

    And why does it happen? Well, I'm under the impression that there are three distinct factors in play in these cases: fear, ignorance, and bias. It could be just one of the three, or a combination of all three to some extent. Let me address each one, and from the little information you've provided, try to give some good courses of action you could take, if you choose to do so.

    First: fear. Sorry to break it to you, but to your parents you are and always will be their child, and they will always see you that way. No parent wants to see their child doing something they think is dangerous, or worse yet that they think can get them hurt. Here's a little secret for you. At my own retirement ceremony (after a 20+ career in the AF), my mother pulled me aside afterward, gave me a big hug, and started crying. I asked her, were the tears because she was proud of me? She just shook her head and said no, it was because she was thanking God her "baby" was done doing that "crazy crap I did for so long" and she could finally relax. See? It never ends.

    Now, what should you do to confront those fears your parent has for you as their CHILD? One, don't act like a child! No tantrums and shouting because they won't listen to you or respect your wishes. Approach them like an adult and say, calmly and in a mature manner, "Listen, I know your scared for me because I want to join the military, but perhaps we can talk like adults over this and I can explain my reasons..." They'll probably argue at first, telling you that you AREN'T an adult, and your reasons aren't ADULT reasons. Just calmly reply: "Look, you did a great job raising me, working your way to the day when I acted like an adult. This is THAT day, and this is me speaking as an adult to you".

    Now, address their fears. I probably can guess what 99% of them are about anyway. Three words: Iraq and Afghanistan. How can they NOT be fearful? They see the news, they hear the horror stories. And you are asking them to accept that their baby wants to do something that might make them a part of that? So, how do you conquer their fears? Simple: with FACTS. Yes, we have been fighting a long time over there, and Yes, there have been thousands of deaths and even more injuries over there. But look at the simple statistics. We've had HUNDREDS of thousands of troops over there for these years, and statistically, it's safer over there than on America's highways; CNN just doesn't lead most of their daily coverage with "125 MORE Americans dies today on the Highway! When will this madness cease!?" (Believe me, if they did, then you can bet there would be a huge outcry from the public for the President to "do something about it") Also, you're just about to start college (I'm guessing), the chances those two areas will be like today are not that high. Most Americans thought Iraq would remain a quagmire for decades, some politicians even (and shamefully) declared that war lost! Now, well it ain't paradise, but it ain't like 2004 either...

    You're parents may retort: "yeah, well. You never know what may happen. It may be over in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it maybe somewhere else!" And you know what? They're correct. Acknowledge that to them. But remind them that no one can predict the future, you may die in some tragic accident tomorrow. More importantly, you don't want to live a life looking back always asking yourself "What If"; would they want that for you as well? Do they really want to deny you your hopes and dreams? Are they always going to treat you like their child, even when they are hoping you become a man? Are they willing to allow the risks adulthood affords you as you become a man (acknowledge these risks come with rewards, and downfalls. It's called "Life")

    Let me address the second factor now: ignorance. It's not meant as an insult or meant to be confused with "stupidity". It just is what it is: not knowing the facts. Ignorance about the military is probably the biggest contributor to the other two factors of fear and bias. They just don't know what they just don't know about the military, and what they think they know is most likely wrong. You’ve admitted this much about this yourself.

    So, how do you confront ignorance? Again, the answer is FACTS. First off, I agree with everyone else: DON’T GET A MILITARY RECRUITER TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT THE SITUATION! The recruiter has one job, to “sell” the military to you and your parents; and I’m betting your parents will smell the sales pitch from a mile away and actually make it even harder for you. Again, act like the adult and educate them yourself.

    The first thing to educate them on? WHY you want to join. Explain to them your feelings and what is making you lean towards this, in an adult manner. There are a million reasons to want to join: a feeling of wanting to contribute to something bigger than yourself, a sense of wanting to thank America for the opportunities it has given you and your family, a desire to fulfill a wish to do something “special” like fly a fighter, drive a sub, command a tank, or be a SEAL (or whatever you want to be!), or even just (heaven forbid!) find an opportunity to improve yourself! There are a million reasons; explain yours to your folks, and tell them you hope they can understand and support your dream.

    Then, tell them to step away from the movie screen or TV set, put down that spy novel or latest issue of some “newsworthy” magazine, get off the internet forums that scream how are troops are just there to be cannon fodder for the privileged rich, and tell them some REAL FACTS about the military. Here’s where you’ll need to do your homework before you decide to have this “adult conversation”. Get the facts yourself. Look up the opportunities, understand the trials and sacrifices involved, and be prepared to confront both the good and the bad when you all talk.

    The last factor; Bias. Please don’t be offended, but it seems to me your mom has some with her “the military is only for the poor people” attitude. Sounds like your dad has a little as well, with his thoughts that the military today is the same as the one he knew in the 1960s/70s. How do you confront these biases? Same as before: FACTS. Let your mother know you’re looking to become an officer. Perhaps go to an Academy to become one. Is she aware of how many business leaders started out their careers as an Academy cadet? The Fortune 500 Companies LOVE to hire people with officer experience. In fact, they RECRUIT them! Military experience can be a stepping stone to another career, if you choose. And as to “only the poor join the military”? Well, it is true that many enlisted personnel use the military to escape poverty, or as a chance to better their life situation. But this is not thr only reason, or even the majority rule. Again, they have just a many reasons as the officers for joining. The officer ranks? Remember, you need a college degree BEFORE you become an officer, something you need to be able to pay for (or have the military pay for), which usually means you need to be in a good financial situation prior. My experience? I came for a very secure middle class family. Most of the officers I know came from a similar situation. The story that the military is just the “dumping grounds for our poor” is just that; a story…

    As to today’s military as compared to the 60s/70s? Well, first off, it’s a VOLUNTEER force. We want to or choose to be here; no judge ordered us to be here. The morale and discipline problems are VASTLY improved since your dad’s time. We pride ourselves on being Professionals! Of course, there are always a few bad examples; it happens in every organization. But remind your dad that in all the latest polls, the profession MOST admired by Americans? The US Military.

    Well, I think I’ve typed enough for you to chew on for now. Write again if you have more questions. There are plenty of folks here wiling to help ad pass on their advice and experiences. I hope mine helped!

    Good luck in your situation, and let us know how it turns out.

    Remember, you’re their child who wants to do something dangerous. Time to act like the man they hope you will become, and you hope they will be proud of.

    Bullet
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  14. ProudMom

    ProudMom Member

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    Wow Bullet, what a wonderful post. My son aspires to join the USAFA, and both my husband and I support his decision 100%, however I know many people that are not as supportive of their child's decisions. I hope this post will help others understand the wonderful opportunities our military not only provides our children but our country as well.

    THANK YOU!!!!
     
  15. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Damn Bullet...:thumb:

    That's a SHACK! :beer1:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  16. Kevin23

    Kevin23 Member

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    Well my Mom actually retired from working with the government after she had me and my younger sister, however I'm sure she did work for some. My late Grandfather on my Mother's side served as an infantryman in Army Combat Arms during the Second World War in the European Theater, in such battles like D-Day and the Bulge, and I think was a prisoner of the Germans for a short time according to my Uncle, also all of his brothers served in ether WWII or Korea. Which also points to the fact that no one immediately on my mother's side has served in any conflict since the ones I mentioned.

    My Dad though, works in the defense community and knows many people who are or who have served. So I find his views on the matter like I may have said, a little odd.

    Also like I said I spent my childhood in a military neighborhood so I have people to point out to her and my Father which I plan on doing.
     
  17. Proud Mom

    Proud Mom Member

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    oppositional parents

    Awesome response from Bullet!

    Kevin, 1st parents want what they think is best for their children, but even though they know their children; they can't truly know what will make them happy anymore than you will know until you have some experiences.

    My dad was enlisted in the military for 20 years, and yes, he joined because he came from poverty. Being enlisted in the Navy was his college. He loved it, and is very proud of his service and what he learned. Due to what he learned in the military, he started his own company 30 years ago, grossing a million dollars within his first 3 years.

    My husband's parents were opposed to him attending USNA in 1979. His dad was a grad from University of Michigan, ex-football player- National Champ Team and Rose Bowl ring wearer... AND an orthopedic surgeon. Though my husband was accepted at U of M; he chose to go to USNA. His parents didn't get it, and were VERY upset! They especially didn't like that he didn't need them financially because in essence they lost what was left of their parental control though they still tried for those four years to find ways to get some of that back, sadly. Becoming a pilot was my husband's dream, and he is very happy with his decision, and he enjoyed the nine years that he was active duty hunting Russian subs on his 6 month deployments to Italy, Bermuda, and he also flew missions over in Rio De Janaiero .

    Present- We have two daughters, and our "girly girl" daughter told us 6 mo. ago that she thought she wanted to go to USNA. We were very surprised because our daughters had never been to the Academy, going to USNA was never talked about, AND and our daughters didn't even own one t-shirt or sweatshirt from USNA. She did all her own research, applied for NASS, got in and went to a session in June. I wasn't that thrilled about any of it, and the more I tried to discourage it, the more I pushed her away. (I just couldn't imagine my daughter in the military!) It became evident to me that she may go there just to spite me! Every friend I have has said, "Aren't you worried about her going to war? Can't you make her go to..." I thought, will she go to war? Maybe. Should it be my decision? No. Though I don't really like it, it's not my life.

    I thought, after she goes to NASS, she will realize that she doesn't really want that kind of college. It will be so physically challenging...she will join her sister at the University of Michigan, and then I can relax...

    When I picked my daughter up from the Naval Academy, I had a different daughter, really! She was visibly so VERY happy, confident and in her element. NASS solidified her desire to attend USNA.

    I MADE THE DECISION to be a supportive mom because I want to have a healthy relationship with her, and that can only come from treating her like an adult. Okay, I wouldn't be able to do that if her choice was to become an exotic dancer in Las Vegas, but she is doing something positive and admirable! :wink:

    Your parents may not be ready to listen to any facts... It may also be difficult to sit down and talk to them like an adult because they still see you as their young son who they still have to guide, and they may want you to just listen to them. They truly THINK they know what is best for you.

    My advice would be to continue pursuing what you want to do regardless of their dreams for you. Have a backup plan in place if you are applying to an academy. If you are lucky they will see that you are acting like an adult by taking control of your life. You HAVE to do what you want and dream or you will probably resent them for it. If they will listen, then awesome!

    If they don't want to listen, put together a letter including all the great things that Bullet suggested. They can read it again and again; and they can't interrupt you, so you can say all you want to say- ask for their support and tell how much you love them... (guilt them) :rolleyes:

    If my daughter is a Plebe next summer, I'll be sad, but also very proud of her. I REALLY hope she gets into USNA, because she is applying to ROTC. My hope, now, is to have her trained in the best possible environment to become a Naval officer which I believe is in a service academy, namely USNA.

    My husband is an airline pilot now, and I'm a teacher, and even though we can afford to send her to a BIG 10 College in our state; she thinks it's dumb not to get someone else to pay for college, and she thinks it's great to know you have a paying job right out of college! Hard to believe she's 16!!! What's not to respect about that, I ask myself. :redface: My husband thinks not paying $100,000 for this daughter's education would be terrific, and he told her we'd buy her a car if we don't have to pay for her college! -She loved that!:thumb:

    Good luck Kevin!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  18. Proud Mom

    Proud Mom Member

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    Will you be a senior in high school next year?

    If you will be a junior and not a senior; you should look into the program my daughter attended. I think she started the application process in Feb. of her junior year. It's on the USNA website. - Naval Academy Summer Seminar
    It may be a way for both you and your parents to learn more...

    Forgot to say, my daughter also thinks that being in the military is the best place to learn more about herself and what she wants to do with her future.

    Enjoy the video- American Soldier by Toby Keith
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctVI5baftFo&feature=related
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  19. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Bullet hit a home run, but I'd like to suggest that you ask why your parents object. Maybe that will clarify what you and they need to talk about.
     
  20. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Kevin,

    I was neither poor, nor intellectually limited. I was at the top of my high school class and I had been awarded an academic scholarship, which would have given me a free ride just about anywhere I was accepted (costing my parents nothing). Though I had virtually unlimited options, I only applied to West Point. It was the only school I wanted to attend.

    My parents were, of course, worried about my well being too. My father, who had served briefly as an Infantry officer in the Reserves, was particularly concerned whether I completely understood what I was getting myself into and wanted to be sure that I was making a fully informed decision, which was not based upon some romanticized notion of the military or childish dreams of glory. Once they recognized that I knew what I was doing and that I was doing it for the right reasons, they were fully supportive.

    Your mother may not yet--and may never--completely understand or appreciate the reasons we are drawn to serve or wish to attend a service academy. However, she can learn that the caliber of those who attend is unmatched elsewhere, that the quality of the education is the absolute highest, and that graduates are well-rounded individuals with incredible opportunities, who go on to do great things, both in the public and private sector.

    I suggest that you start with simply educating her about the facts regarding the academy and its graduates. Then, do what you can to put her natural concerns for you and about your personal motivations aside. I bet she will become far more supportive than you might imagine.

    Good luck.
     

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