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Bitter dad sends scathing email that's tough love at its best... or worst

Nov. 29, 2012 at 4:21 PM ET

For most parents, the goal is to raise kids right and send them on their way. Then, you can sit back and enjoy the adults they become. But what if those adults leave you “bitterly, bitterly disappointed?” A father in England started a family feud and an international debate after he sent his three grown children a scathing email, criticizing the way they’ve turned out.

Nick Crews, a retired nuclear submarine captain, first fired off the email, which he now refers to as the S***-O-Gram, in February. But his eldest daughter just recently submitted the verbal attack to the Daily Mail for publication and it’s since gone viral.

“It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us,” Crews wrote. “We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.”

Throughout the email, Crews lamented failed marriages and unfulfilled careers, while also expressing concern over the fates of his grandchildren.

“We are constantly regaled with chapter and verse of the happy, successful lives of the families of our friends and relatives and being asked of news of our own children and grandchildren. I wonder if you realise how we feel – we have nothing to say which reflects any credit on you or us.”

Crews also complains that he and his wife were never consulted before their kids made bad decisions but were expected to listen and sympathize when those choices didn’t turn out well.

“The predictable result has been a decade of deep unhappiness over the fates of our grandchildren. If it wasn’t for them, Mum and I would not be too concerned, as each of you consciously, and with eyes wide open, crashes from one cock-up to the next. It makes us weak that so many of these events are copulation-driven, and then helplessly to see these lovely little people being woefully let down by you, their parents.”

Daddy Dearest ended the letter by saying he didn’t want to hear from his kids until they had a success, achievement or realistic plan for the support and happiness of their children, adding “I don’t want to see your mother burdened any more with your miserable woes – it’s not as if any of the advice she strives to give you has ever been listened to with good grace – far less acted upon.”

Well, he got his way – two of his three kids aren’t speaking to him thanks to that email, so he doesn’t have to hear about their lack of success. His eldest daughter, while hurt by the email, has forgiven her dad and believes that a lot of what he said was true.

His children aren’t murderers, drug addicts or prostitutes; they just haven’t lived up to their father’s expectations. “None of us has been a drain on the State, none of us has got into drugs or done anything bad,” his oldest daughter, Emily Crews-Montes, told the Daily Mail. “None of us is lazy or has asked them for money. We’ve been no trouble to him financially or socially. My father’s problem is disappointment.”

Many have found Crews’ style to be unnecessarily rough, particularly at this late-stage – after all, his kids are in their 30’s and 40’s. And, as his son, Fred, pointed out, to some degree, they are their father’s children (and, at least partially, the result of his parenting). “He compared us to his friends’ children and said what an embarrassment we were and how he can’t boast about us,” Fred Crews told the Daily Mail in a follow-up article. “Well, I’m sorry, but you made me.” Fred also said that his dad had done “enough of that in my formative years to ensure that I do not have the confidence to succeed in life now.” Besides, who’s to say Mr. Crews friends’ boasts are the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Don’t most people cherry-pick the news they share, at least to some degree?

However, where some have found the message harsh, others have found it to be spot-on. As commenter, Ruckus, said “I agree with Dad. He gave these children advantages most kinds could only dream of. After they were on their own it is their life to live. They should not be "dumping" their problems on their aging parents.”

Another commenter, Null, agreed, saying “As a parent of grown up children I have to say I agree, all I seem to get on a daily basis is moaning yet they don't seem to do anything to help themselfs just dump it all in my lap!!!”

A number of disgruntled parents with grown children commented on the articles, often agreeing with Crews. For those of us who are still in the thick of the child-rearing years, these sentiments can be disheartening. Many of us will read this sad family tale and wonder what we can do now to avoid being bitterly, bitterly disappointed in 20 to 30 years. Yes, we’re all trying our best to be good parents, but will that be enough at the end of the day? Please, please say yes.

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who hopes to never have to tell her kids she’s disappointed in them for anything more serious than coloring on the walls.

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