Another parent here started a discussion looking for advice regarding her new young daughter-in-law's accusation that it was all the mom's fault her son joined the Marines. Only married for a short time, first deployment hits, it's no surprise that in her panic and fear the young woman wants to blame somebody. A dad popped into the discussion and said that his wife blamed him for all of their kids joining dangerous careers, said, I think, in a jovial long-patient husband way, because he followed that statement by saying he knew his wife was just worried and this was her way of coping. Clearly a long-time love match ;>
The whole conversation triggered a thought..."Hmmm, who can i blame for the fact that my son joined the Marine Corps right out of high school?"
I place a lot of blame on my father, a WWII Navy vet (was anyone from that generation NOT in the military?!), a career police officer, with a second career leading a new program in our state Youth Authority. My son spent an awful lot of time with my father growing up. My dad was a natural charismatic leader of men, with a great sense of obligation to those who reported to him, and an unflinching no-crap-allowed integrity. From him, Andy picked up notions of leadership and service.
I blame my mom, a Depression-era women with a great sense of duty to God, country and family. From her, my son learned that some choices are a duty, hard or easy, doesn't matter, you do your duty.
I blame my husband (and, if he ever reads this, he'll say, "Don't you always?"). He loves this country and is a strong patriot, and forever regrets that he was in an odd little part of the Baby Boom, the draft cancelled in the year he would have been called, and he went back to eking out a living rather than joining up. From him, my son learned that God does bless America and he should be proud to serve.
I blame myself...and that's sort of a funny thing, because what I blame myself for is that my son is brutally independent and stubborn and will not walk down a path just because everyone else is. He will make up his own rules and follow his own path, and the heck with you if you don't like it. In a family of college graduates, with even the grandmas being the rare college graduates in their generation, and every cousin on a path to or from college, a family member joining up right out of high school is not rare, but literally unique.
I've realized that I have LOTS of people to blame for my son's USMC career -- and every one of them should be darn proud of their contribution to the making of a US Marine.
It occurs to me that I should go back to that discussion and suggest to the mom that, next time her daughter-in-law blames her for her son joining up, the mom ought to say, "Why...thank you." It's an awfully fine thing to have helped raise a Marine.