Even Great Parents Get Children Who Disappoint

By Markowitz, Jack | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 24, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Even Great Parents Get Children Who Disappoint

Markowitz, Jack, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Successful parents, disappointing children -- is there a more common heartache for people in business or any active walk of life?

Think of it. Father and mother both hard workers, putting in long hours, yet enjoying the challenge and having something to show for it, a nice home, social standing, a retirement plan. But those kids ... or maybe just one of the kids.

Somehow the work ethic didn't take. A boy with everything going for him, brains, good looks, yet he flunks out of school. Or gets into drugs. Or maybe it's a daughter, with all sorts of opportunities open to women these days, yet she comes home tattooed and body pierced if she comes home at all. Where did Mom and Dad go wrong?

Such worries surely cloud the days of some of the best performers in the U.S. economy, from store and factory floor to executive suite. There's even a business downside -- productivity suffers! It's tempting to blame it all on the movies, television, "bad influences" and the sleaze of popular culture.

But a little historical perspective is in order, too. A surprise in a recent biography of John and Abigail Adams is that they had a lot of grief as parents.

John (1735-1826) was the second president of the United States, a key mover of the Revolution and the Constitution; Abigail his loving wife, knowledgeable on the issues, supportive, the anchor of the home during her man's long absences on public business. They wrote each other (and saved) 1,200 letters that became historical treasures.

And yet, those kids ...

Historian Joseph J. Ellis makes parental frustration a sub-plot in "First Family" (Alfred A.

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Even Great Parents Get Children Who Disappoint


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