Reader Peter H. sends this amazing e-mail that has gone viral in England. It’s from Capt. Nick Crews, a retired Royal Navy officer, to his adult children:

Dear All Three:

With last evening’s crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for which you seem to treat your mother like a cess-pit, I feel it is time to come off my perch.

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. 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.

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. We don’t ask for your sympathy or understanding — Mum and I have been used to taking our own misfortunes on the chin, and making our own effort to bash our little paths through life without being a burden to others. Having done our best — probably misguidedly — to provide for our children, we naturally hoped to see them in turn take up their own banners and provide happy and stable homes for their own children.

Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped — but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting. Which of you, with or without a spouse, can support your families, finance your home and provide a pension for your old age? Each of you is well able to earn a comfortable living and provide for your children, yet each of you has contrived to avoid even moderate achievement. Far from your children being able to rely on your provision, they are faced with needing to survive their introduction to life with you as parents.

So we witness the introduction to this life of six beautiful children — soon to be seven — none of whose parents have had the maturity and sound judgment to make a reasonable fist at making essential threshold decisions. None of these decisions were made with any pretence to ask for our advice.

In each case we have been expected to acquiesce with mostly hasty, but always in our view, badly judged decisions. None of you has done yourself, or given to us, the basic courtesy to ask us what we think while there was still time finally to think things through. 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 so woefully let down by you, their parents.

I can now tell you that I for one, and I sense Mum feels the same, have had enough of being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children’s underachievement and domestic ineptitudes. I want to hear no more from any of you until, if you feel inclined, you have a success or an achievement or a REALISTIC plan for the support and happiness of your children to tell me about. 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. So I ask you to spare her further unhappiness. If you think I have been unfair in what I have said, by all means try to persuade me to change my mind. But you won’t do it by simply whingeing and saying you don’t like it. You’ll have to come up with meaty reasons to demolish my points and build a case for yourself. If that isn’t possible, or you simply can’t be bothered, then I rest my case.

I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.


Capt. Crews’ daughter defends him, saying that she needed the kick in the backside that her father gave her.

What do you think? I suspect that were I to know all the facts, I would greatly sympathize with Capt. Crews. I think he speaks for many parents today. The obvious question is, how did three children raised in the Crews household all turn out to be such failures?

UPDATE: More from Capt. Crews:

“I would be mortified if they were to need — either immediately or in later life — state benefits. They should contribute to, not draw from, the pot. I long to see them take responsibility for their actions.”

He blames contemporary culture, which proffers us “a cancerous cocktail where on the one hand everyone is supposed to be free to do whatever they wish, but on the other we all expect protection from the consequences of our actions”.

Taking responsibility was a given when Nick Crews was growing up in Cornwall. His father was the Polish navy liaison officer and “ended the war with a George Medal for rescuing a couple in the Blitz”.

“He was away a lot and my mother had to raise my two sisters and me on rationing, in a cottage in Cornwall. I remember how she would push us out the door after breakfast, and when she wanted us back for lunch, she would hang a bath towel at the window.

“We would be on our own at the beach, with no lifeguard, no grown-up to say, ‘Watch out for this undertow’. The great breakers would come towards you, then you would duck and the breaker would go over you and you would bob up again.”

He sounds nostalgic for those Swallows and Amazons days.

“Nowadays, you see those wetsuit-clad surfers riding the waves: nothing spontaneous there. We would go off fishing on our own, and climb the cliffs. And do you think there were any signs there saying ‘Take care’? It was idyllic. And we were free.”

Free — and responsible. He has raised children who are fit for servitude. And he admits later in the piece that he has failed as a father.