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Dear Haddie Braverman (and NBC),

January 21, 2012

You are a spoiled brat.

You have no idea what you are asking of your parents. Yes, Cornell is a great accomplishment on your part. But decades of debt on the part of your parents is extraordinarily selfish.

Your parents should be saving for their retirement, but instead, they are sacrificing personal security, safety, and sleep so that you can go to the only school you feel is appropriate.

‘Cause Berkeley just isn’t good enough for you.

I’m angry at your selfishness. I’m angry at the writers who have drafted this script. I’m angry that 5 million people are being bamboozled into thinking that what your parents are doing is right and good and noble.

It isn’t. It’s crap.

Where’s the part where your parents are still working at the age of 70 and beyond because they can’t afford to retire? Where’s the part about how miserable you find New York in the wintertime? Where’s the part about an 18 year old learning that life isn’t always fair?

Giving our kids everything they want only makes our kids think they deserve everything they want. It creates a sense of entitlement. Then life happens twenty years down the road, and ships sink, and every man is for himself and no one is for anyone else.

Here’s the story line that would have been written had Parenthood been on thirty, or even twenty years ago.

You’d have a job already. You’d be working for your own pocket money. You’d apply to several colleges, and you’d talk it over with your parents, and you would all make a choice that was best. Not just for you – but for your family.

You would respect your parents’ advice.  You wouldn’t take their financial support for granted, and you would work your way through college in four, five or six years. You would do “whatever it takes” – not your parents doing whatever it takes. You would do it and you would succeed by the power of your own purpose. Your success would be your own doing, not standing on the shoulders of your parents.

You would grow up a bit more and look back and realize just how extraordinarily difficult it was for your family to have a child with special needs like Max. And you would know that Nora was not their special way of punishing you, but just life happening the way it so often does: unexpectedly.

You would work hard for your own success and you would appreciate it because you earned it.

Just like I sing to my kids, and Jagger said it best: “You can’t always get what you want. But when you try, sometimes, you get what you need.”

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 2:21 pm

    Loved this post – had to share to my Facebook wall but this, this is an important message to put out there in this day and age. We have older parents (like my husband and I)(ie. not in our 30′s) and our kids need to work hard and accomplish all they can for college. We have college plans and ira’s – which puts them ahead of the game … but paying %50K a yr for them to go to the college of their dreams – ain’t likely to happen without some serious blood, sweat but hopefully few tears on their part.

  2. January 21, 2012 2:22 pm

    Nicely said.

    My kids hate it when they hear me start singing that song again.

  3. January 21, 2012 3:09 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I went to Berkeley, having paid for it with no parental support, just hard work and a lot of student loans, which are now completely paid off. You’re absolutely right. Every point that you made makes for a graduate who is more capable of contributing to the world after graduation than one who didn’t have to lift a finger on her own behalf.

  4. January 22, 2012 10:03 am

    That would be a much better plot line. When Adam put his foot down, I was like Yay! When Christina started crying and changed his mind I was like, Hiss!

    And you’re so right. That financial wizard guy always says that the biggest thing a parent can do to set their kids up for future financial success is to ensure their own. As I well know, it’s hard to send you’re kids to college, or heck, even grow a family, if you’re having to take care of your own parents because they have no retirement built up.

  5. January 23, 2012 7:03 am

    She applied Early Acceptance, which last I checked was binding. Where was the conversation with her folks when she applied in “November”? I blame the writers for rushing the storyline/timeline.

  6. January 23, 2012 7:54 am

    Well and succinctly said! Too many parents feel absolutely compelled to just pay to wherever their child wants to go. Bad idea on both counts. As a financial peace university facilitator, I have seen my share of parents who feel they are obligated to give their children a “better life”, even if it means they drown financially while doing so.
    Crazy, crazy.
    It is especially good that your wrote this, as many parents don’t believe they can go against the tide of culture and academia. I remember that when folks asked us about our girls going to college, and we responded that they were responsible, people looked at us as though we had just grown two heads.
    Parents need to know just what you wrote: the young folks need to work towards and for their own future. To have no stake in the game means that there will be very little value attached to their education.

  7. Dana permalink
    January 23, 2012 8:40 am

    My daughter is a sophmore in college. She has what her father and I were able to save during the course of her growing up…it wasn’t much – only $12,000.

    She is attending a community college with 15+ credits each semester and working full time. She has friends whose parents are paying for everything – college, the car, etc and she doesn’t believe they appreciate what they are getting. She gets what she needs from us – emotional support, guidance, encouragement when things get rough.

    Nothing is being handed to her; she is not only earning an education, but a tremendous amount of confidence in her abilities. I would put my money on her succeeding in the businessworld at the end of the day. The Cornell girl? I’m not thinking she will change the world much, and not because of where she is being educated, but the fact that she has to be whiny and cry to get what she wants….what a baby!

  8. Bob Stone permalink
    January 23, 2012 1:53 pm

    Adelle, you really should send this to the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

  9. January 23, 2012 4:50 pm

    I had another thought! When I was in school you could always tell the kids whose parents paid for them versus the ones who were making their own way. The former felt free to cut class when it wasn’t convenient, the later made every one. Why? They knew the exact cost of each class because they were paying for it.

  10. January 23, 2012 6:05 pm

    I was completely annoyed with Haddie, but it’s not like it’s out of the realm of probable. She’s a kid, who has never, until recently, had to economize. It would be nice if she were a little more mature, but apparently, it’s been her dream, and she has spent her entire life coming far below the smallest need or whim of her brother. I get and sympathize that she’s upset. And she’s a kid who has been reasonably materially spoiled; how can she have any concept of what this means for her parents financially?

  11. yvrdad permalink
    January 24, 2012 10:17 am

    Great post. I just don’t get why Haddie’s parents couldn’t just help out as much as they were comfortable with, and if she really wanted to go she would have to find the means to do it herself. I agree it was pretty frustrating watching it. I can only hope my daughters won’t grow up expecting everything to be handed to them.

  12. Lynnie permalink
    March 2, 2012 10:38 pm

    I think Haddie will change her mind and go to Berkeley…

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