Please help me with a response

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by mintyicedtea, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. mintyicedtea

    mintyicedtea Member

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    I ran into an aquaintance the other day. She asked about one of my sons' college plans, and I mentioned that he was very interested in a service academy. She looked at me aghast and said, he might have to go to war! She gave me a look like I was a terrible mother for even supporting such a goal. I could not think of a quick response and had to leave quickly because I had to be somewhere.

    We are not from a military family, and in all honesty it has taken me a while to get used to the idea of him going into the military. But I have come to peace with it because I know this is a calling he has believed in for years.

    Can parents help me come up with a respectful response to those who question the sanity of sending off a child to the military? I have a feeling more of these comments may be coming our way. How do you respond?
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    There is a great thread I can't lay my hands on right now - along the lines of "your kid goes where?" - but I am sure someone will produce. Funny, sad and just plain ignorant things said by others to parents of future cadets or mids headed to SA, ROTC or other program.

    Sadly, attempted parent-shaming seems like it will never die out.

    You will get excellent advice from parents who have been there.

    You cannot educate those blinded by bias, and a sarcastic reply, while pleasurable at the time, does no one any good. Thus, "my son or daughter has chosen to serve and defend our country to protect your right to say utterly stupid and insensitive things" should not be spoken aloud.

    Take a hint from the politicians and answer the question you wish were asked, and ignore the one that you don't care to respond to: "You are so kind to comment, thank you! Yes, we are so proud of our son for choosing the harder path of serving his country as an officer. He has worked hard to get the grades and accomplishments to be considered for the highly competitive service academies/ROTC scholarship. You know SA X is always listed in the top Y colleges in the country by publication Z. We are over the moon that he will get his college degree paid for, have immediate employment afterward, have no school debt, and a military career that will prepare him with leadership, experience, skills and education for a career in the civilian world. We raised him/her to be a strong and honorable man/woman, and he/she knows the risks." Develop variations as they suit you. Accompany with a huge smile. Own it.

    The technique above is one I used many times in my career as people asked me inane questions, with a clear agenda to denigrate or patronize, about why, as a woman, I chose to serve in the military. I mastered the big smile and the oblique response. If they persisted, I would then say, "I can't think why my personal decisions would be of any interest to you."

    And, you aren't sending him off. As is often said here on SAF, you taught him to fly, now you will step back as he chooses to soar.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  3. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    I usually say, "OMG, I know! It's horrible. WTF was he thinking? Kids. Can't control 'em. Let's have another martini."
     
  4. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Your son/daughter goes where??

    CaptMJ is so, so right (as she often is!) about taking the high road, though. Every once in a while, one of those skeptics will turn out to be an uneducated ally, and you don't want to miss those people if you can avoid it. The school counselor at the end of the quoted thread is one now!
     
  5. April75

    April75 Member

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    Just wondering why you have to respond at all. Or I would simply say "Yes, you can also die crossing the street.".
     
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  6. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    Don't expect many ignorant comments. You just happen to have a selfish friend. If I had been asked that, I probably would have said that perhaps we should get rid of our armed forces... there are so many good kids that might have to go to war.

    Or, that she's right, maybe we should only allow convicts to be in the armed forces, since losing them wouldn't be a big deal.

    Or maybe that we need the best of the best defending us in times of war, and that sometimes we have to step up and do our part, instead of relying on others to step up for us.

    Of course you know, one cannot just decide to attend an academy, it's pretty dang tough to get in.
     
  7. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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  8. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    I'd point out that you - an anonymous poster on a message board - just insulted the friend of someone you were responding to. Presumably you don't know the OP, or the OP's friend. Probably not the best way to make a point about influencing people.

    I guess I'd pose the question, what is to be gained from adversarial or sarcastic responses? Sure, there's the instant satisfaction, but that never lasts (at least for me). And isn't one of the things we can probably (almost) all agree upon is how acrimonious, all-blow-and-no-show is any discussion about anything that matters in this country right now?

    Many people still don't know about the service academies or how ROTC works. Many people think "you just join, right?" Many people don't know how selective our uniformed services are, nor how bright, accomplished, motivated, and committed someone has to be to navigate the paths to becoming an officer. And yes, a lot of times it comes out as "Your DS/DD/student/cousin/friend goes WHERE??" If you treat the question as an opportunity to educate, you've lost nothing - even if the asker turns out to be a world-class jerk. And, YOU'VE been the classy one. If that's something you value.
     
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  9. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    Waaaaaaaa! So sensitive.
     
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  10. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    I would agree with them. "Yes is is scary that my DS will be risking his life to defend our country. But, he is convinced that he wants to serve our country and I will support him as best I can."
     
  11. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    Sick burn dude. :rolleyes: Why educate someone when you can belittle them instead?

    For the OP: my parents got a lot of those questions. This was during a time when there wasn't a lot of positive news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. My parents were, understandably, very nervous about my chosen career. Their response to questions was along the line of "We're proud of her, it's her choice, and we support her in it."
     
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  12. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    They said:
    "you - an anonymous poster on a message board - just insulted the friend of someone you were responding to."

    "YOU'VE been the classy one. If that's something you value."

    Yes, I can come across as abrasive.

    What I have though, is a strong respect and love for all of our dedicated military men and women. Anti-military types and uber liberals that look down upon the kids that make protecting us all their life's calling draw my ire.

    Sorry for offending, I call it as I see it. Sadly, my eyesight is admittedly less than it once was. I'm old school. I don't have much patience these days, not with flag disrespect, and certainly not with disrespect to our kids.

    I'll try to watch my knee-jerk responses.

    Thanks Hurricane 12, it's been a long time since I've scored a sick burn ;-D
     
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  13. madhttr

    madhttr Member

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    +1 to this:

    [QUOTE="And, you aren't sending him off. As is often said here on SAF, you taught him to fly, now you will step back as he chooses to soar."[/QUOTE]

    Like you said mintyicedtea, "I know this is a calling he has believed in for years." No-one who knows our DD is surprised that she wants to serve. If she wasn't joining the military she would probably be a first responder or engaged in relief efforts in a third world country, or something similar.

    Curious about this from other parents. Is anyone surprised that their DS or DD is pursuing a commission or have you known all along that they would do something like this?
     
  14. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    I'm afraid you've mischaracterized me, maplerock. I'm neither an uber-liberal nor an anti-military type, nor do I "look down upon the kids who make protecting us their life's calling." My comment was simply and only about your particular response to the OP. It's all right, though - I teach introductory biology to college freshmen, so I get mischaracterized and blamed for a lot of things I don't actually do. :cool: Helps to have a thick skin! (Thanks, USNA, for starting that habit, too!)

    @madhttr, I've mentioned before that my parents were stunned when I told them I got an appointment to USNA. My mom was so dead-set against me going that she wouldn't sign the waiver (I was 17). The climate in the country was different in the late 80s - end of the Reagan years, Cold War about to come to an end the year after my plebe year. I didn't have a calling for years - I applied quietly and without their help, kind of on a whim, because my ACT and SAT were good and I got a brochure from USNA and the admissions counselor at my high school said "You should apply, they've admitted women for 12 years." Nothing had ever been hard for me (up to that point, at least - plebe summer cured that!) and I wanted to do hard things with other people up to hard things. I'll bet with every class there are the kids about whom people say "Oh, of course!" and the kids about whom people scratch their heads and say, "Uh, wow. Him? Her? Really??" And everyone in between. Parental support makes such a load of difference at this point in their kids' lives. Yes, they are adults - but that parental influence and approval still matters.

    OP, I hope you get some good ideas off the thread I linked. I'm sorry you're getting the stink-eye from people you know already, but being prepared for it helps. Good luck to you.
     
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  15. lumpcrab

    lumpcrab Member

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    I honestly and truly hope that I would not have been the idiot friend who responded to someone in that manner, but I will also say that I was ignorant as heck about this entire process going in.

    I had no knowledge at all of the service academies, how difficult they are to get into, how arduous the application process is, etc. I have MAD RESPECT now for those who attempt (and complete!) the application and nomination processes alone.

    One's family has a great influence on how one views the military. As I have said on this forum before, my Mom's father was killed in WW2 when she was a preschooler. She was terrified of any of us going into the military and would cry about it often, even when none of us showed any interest in doing so anyway. She was and is traumatized and has never moved past the loss (or, I guess better wording is accepted the loss?) Her views certainly influenced me.. my thinking was "I would never let my kid..."

    Well, here we are. When my son declared his intention, to say I was aghast and horrified would not be wrong. To say I cried and carried on for a few days would not be wrong either (and no, I am not proud of it.) Then I told him that he could go ahead but that I would not do this for him or hold his hand through the process- if he wanted it, he had to own it. Then I sat back and waited for him to drop the ball.

    And he didn't.

    Over the past year and a half, slowly but surely, my heart has softened as I see that it is his true desire. I want it for him because he wants it and believes in it.
    Would I have chosen it for him? No, never. But I have made the transition to supporting his dreams and his life as his own, and not mine.

    Now we wait!
     
  16. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    With a DD at USNA and DS at a SMC on ROTC scholarship, we heard a few of those comments. We didn't really say much in response most of the time. At first, like you, we just didn't know what to say. After thinking about it, we figured it wouldn't do much good to come up with a response, other than maybe to make us feel better.

    If anything, we would just say they researched it, explored options and this is what they decided they wanted. They know it will be difficult and they understand that the military commitment that is part of the deal. And we'd add that we are very proud of them.

    Fortunately, we heard many more positive comments than we did negative ones.

    Good luck to your DS in whatever he chooses.
     
  17. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Assuming he follows the whole process through, "Our son made an informed decision, he is prepared to make a deep commitment, and we support him. We hope other folks do as well."
     
  18. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    As parents, candidates, appointees, Mids/Cadets you will hear many odd comments and questions. 90% of them are total lack of education and knowledge about a SA. Parents, you are free to answer however you wish. To appointees and when you move on to being a Cadet and Mid, I always suggest taking the high road. As you know very few in our overall population serve today and are totally ignorant to the military and SAs in general. I have heard it all from 'what ship are you on now?' when I was a Mid to 'it's such a waste you are going there, you are so smart and have so many options.' I always took the extra time to answer the questions and educate. You might be the only military member they know! You are the biggest ambassador to your institution and biggest recruiter for it.

    I remember sitting in the airport many years ago going home to visit Mom and Dad. I had returned from Iraq a month or two before. I had a USNA basketball sweatshirt on. A mother struck up a conversation with me explaining that her kids went to a boarding school and all these elite schools they were applying to and she was so happy her kids weren't in the same position as me who 'had to join the military.' She pretty much insulted me directly and every person who served. She had zero idea how I ended up where I did. I then explained I had many options out of high school to include the Ivies and chose USNA because of its education and chance to serve. The Marines I had just gone to war with joined for a variety of reasons and were great humans who came from every walk of life. I could of easily snapped at her and was so pissed at her ignorance I wanted to yell, but what was the point of that? I would of just come off as some angry military member. The military civilian divide is real. And both sides contribute it. Educate, understand and learn from both sides. As an appointee and Mid/Cadet you will be the greatest ambassadors the SA have. You might be the only military member someone meets and totally change their perception or establish one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
  19. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    So true and it applies to all who serve or have served. A wise Marine Colonel charged me with a new mission at my "end of service" party. He told me that the Marines (and all military) need civilian ambassadors to educate the general public. With so few members of the public having a military experience they are ignorant and uneducated about our roles, needs and experiences. He told me that this was the best way I could "take care of my Marines" in the future. I took it to heart and try to accomplish the mission every day.
     
  20. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    You already answered it yourself - you respect and support your kid's decision.

    If you want to go one step further, you should ask who should join the military and possibly fight our nation's war? It's a legitimate question and the purpose behind it is trying to make the questioner think about the question he or she just asked.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016

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