In today’s Dear Chris column, the question is asked: Although I am very proud of the accomplishments of my daughter, what should I do about my son who is disappointing me?
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I am a successful businessman in my mid-forties and I have two children, Radha and Sunil.
Both of them are undergraduates at very prestigious universities (Ivy League). And I fully support them not only in terms of their outrageously expensive tuition costs, but also their full living expenses.
Now, Radha is doing extremely well in her Comparative Literature program, and I am very proud that she proves to be such a high-performing student. That makes me truly happy. So my investment really pays off nicely, in her case.
My problem, however, is with my son Sunil. He is not performing very well in his Computer Engineering program. He seems unmotivated and unwilling to work hard for good grades. And I suspect he is partying more than studying.
In fact, I sincerely worry about him and his future. Will he even be able to complete his degree, with that lazy attitude? So in his case, there is considerably chance that my investment may not pay off, at all.
Thus I am wondering what to do about this. How will I be able to make him understand that it is his future that I am concerned about?
And how can I communicate the idea to him that he must stop being so lazy, and start preparing for the tough competition that is waiting for him in the future job market?
I would be grateful for any ideas or comments about these matters.
“Anirudh” (Boston, MA)
Thank you for your clearly presented questions and concerns.
There are a couple of points that I wish to make about your current situation, and about the basic principles of the Law of Attraction, and I will present these below.
Note, however, that these points are only my personal philosophical reflections on your situation, and that I only offer them here as a tool for you to see your situation from a different perspective.
The decision of what to do with my philosophical ideas is always up to you, and I do not, of course, guarantee any results even if you do follow my ideas.
It feels good for you to think about your daughter Radha, who is successful in her studies. For she has “delivered” the goods (the grades, the performances) that you have been looking for.
But it does not feel so good for you to think about your son Sunil, who is not so successful in his studies. For he has not yet “delivered” the goods (the grades, the performances) that you have expected him to deliver.
So what to do?
One problem is the whole setup. Why would any parent voluntarily pay approximately $50,000 a year per child to go to a prestigious university, and then also, of course, pay for all the living expenses as well?
The reason, we may presume, is because such a university is “the best” you can get. The parent normally wants “the best” for his children. It’s an investment in the future, so to speak. And that is perfectly understandable.
But parents in general do not usually do that merely for the child. If they were, then the parents normally would not make a great fuzz about their children not succeeding.
And it is that point, the one about your son being a “disappointment” and a “bad investment”, that points to this issue. For, as I understand your situation, the two university educations that you are sponsoring are also, in a sense, for yourself and your spouse.
In fact the whole point of such an “extravaganza” in terms of expensive Ivy League schools is that it is a matter for the whole family, not just the children. And the idea, of course, is that it is about their kids getting ahead in society, and thus paving the way for the whole family’s societal success and future family pride.
Pride: First Version
Don’t get me wrong, however. I do not say that pride is wrong, or bad. What I do say, however, is that the idea of being proud can work against you, as in the case with Sunil.
So let’s talk about pride. There are two ways to handle the situation. One way is to feel proud when everything is working as you want it to.
But when things are not working out for you, then you should not think about them. Just let the “problems” go, and think of something else.
That “something else” may be, for example, a previous situation in which you felt proud, which then puts you in a good mood.
And this is beneficial to you in terms of the law of attraction, since it prepares your emotional state for new successes and new good feelings.
This would be, as I see it, the easiest “fix” to your situation.
Pride and Ownership
Although I just said that the first method would be the easiest “fix” to the situation, it does not really correct the core problem. For the core problem is connected to the idea of pride itself, or, rather, how it is commonly used.
One connected problem here, as I see it, is that of family affairs. Instead of each person taking care of only his own life, a family father (or family mother) normally gets involved in a lot of “issues” and “concerns” about their other family members.
And then they focus on those “issues” and “concerns” in order to solve them, or to be able to convert them to a situation that they themselves like, or at least like better.
The whole issue then is that fathers and mothers think of their kids as “theirs”. The kids are their “property” so to speak. They “own” their kids.
And because they “own” their kids, they have a reason to be proud of them. I mean, who feels pride about someone else’s kids? Basically no-one. So pride is connected to the idea of ownership.
And that is also the traditional “orthodox” family arrangement: the husband is “in charge” of the family, deciding more or less what’s what. He is the ruler, and the “owner” of everyone in the family.
Pride: Second Version
In any case, an important premise here that needs to be accepted sooner rather than later is that we cannot control other people’s behavior, to any great extent.
Many parents try very hard to make their kids conform to societal norms and their own preferences, but they do not always succeed in “taming” them to a behavior that is “acceptable”.
And when that happens, when the parent does not “approve of” or “like” the performances of his children, then he sets himself up, according the law of attraction, to more similar episodes of “bad performances” or “bad behavior”.
The minute we are extending our “identity” into groups of people, we immediately lose control and set ourselves up for (constant) disappointment.
This means that, in real life, it is better to limit our pride to ourselves, and avoid “being involved” in terms of other people’s failures and successes (whether they are a part of our “family” or “group”, or not).
This means that, first of all, we must all focus only on our own life. For that’s the only life we can control, in minute detail. So the only things we should feel proud of are the things that we ourselves are doing or thinking or feeling, etc.
This, of course, is of little use to a person who cannot control his own mind. But the assumption here is, of course, that there is a serious desire to learn the law of attraction game, so that we can control our mind.
I said in the previous section that “in real life, the only things that we should feel proud of are the things that we ourselves are doing or thinking or feeling, etc.”
But now you may wonder, perhaps, how that can be. For I said earlier that it was OK for you to be proud of your kids, when they behave as you want them to. So what do you mean, Chris? Should I, or should I not, feel proud of my kids, when they succeed?
My answer is this. If you can control your mind and only (or mostly) feel proud of your kids, and only spend occasional time worrying about them, then do so.
But it is my belief that this is, more or less impossible to do for most people. For most people are too interested in other people’s business.
Most people love the idea of families and friends. They love the interaction, they love the idea of “staying together” and “being in a group”, etc. And they love knowing what others are up to. And that’s all well and good, as long as everyone is happy. But that is rare.
So what I am saying is that, for a serious practitioner of the law of attraction, the priority must be happiness and joy, not the “staying together in a family” or anything like that.
In other words, to be really able to be happy, we must become more “free” in society. We must gradually let go of the idea that “a family” is the “purpose of life” or anything like that.
The purpose of life is to be happy. We have to become the creators not just of physical manifestations like cars, houses, and romantic partners, but ultimately of our own happiness and satisfaction. That is our true goal.
If our goal is happiness, we cannot be too concerned about other people, whether they are family members, or our friends, etc.
In other words, we have to learn to mind our own business. And this more or less boils down to minding our own vibration. We must realize that we can create our own happiness by our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.
And the sooner we can learn to positively control these effectively, the sooner we can see our life transforming in the direction that we truly want, towards joy, happiness, health, and true well-being.
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