16 June 2008

In the Aftermath of Father's Day

My friend Glen sent me the transcript of his son's commencement speech. (His son is Jeff Lee, pointed to in the blogs listed on the side and found here, just graduated from UC Davis.) I found his speech unsurprisingly amusing and well done, but will just excerpt this:

It took me my first year of college to figure out that I wasn't going to pursue the line of study I originally thought I would. When I first announced that I would major in English, not life sciences, my disappointed and well-intentioned father sent me an e-mail which consisted solely of a link to a CNN article titled, "Most lucrative college degrees." It prominently featured a table of starting salaries according to major, and - as expected - "Liberal Arts majors" were listed dead last.

Understanding that my father, an Asian dentist, would want his son, not surprisingly also Asian, to receive a degree that would lead to a medical profession, I had no choice but to ignore my family's helpful input on my life decisions.


This is the catch-22 of parenting, what it means to be a father or mother. If parents do their job right, they'll give their child autonomy. And, of course, it would not be autonomy if the child could not - did not - choose to do things with his or her life that the parent would rather they did not.

Happy Father's Day Glen.

4 comments:

Gypsy at Heart said...

I'm thinking that as long as my kid doesn't tell me he wants to pick up the trash, I'm game for whatever he chooses as long as he loves it. The husband is of an altogether different mind about what's going to happen. Choices abound according to him. His son will be either a lawyer or a doctor (oh God please a doctor) Neurosurgeon or cardiologist preferably. As you can see, all options are on the table.

cce said...

I'm chuckling at Milena's comment as my O wanted to be in Waste Management for the first six years of his little life. And now, knowing him as I know him, I'll be pretty damn proud and pleased if he doesn't end up a drug addict or a convict. Of course I want college and grad degrees and a lucrative and satisfying career but I'll settle for healthy and well adjusted.

Jeff said...

That speech sounds familiar. I'm sure I've heard it somewhere.

Jennifer H said...

My son wants to be a train engineer OR a zoo keeper and an author of Bionicles books. My daughter wants to be a doctor and a cheerleader. (I'm hoping cheerleader falls off the list at some point.)

As an English major and writer, I've always loved this quote:

"If you really want to hurt your parents and you don't have the nerve to be homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts." --Kurt Vonnegut