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It's Only Money --- And Your Hopes, Dreams, and Future

My older daughter Andrea got herself married yesterday. Kind of a strange situation there, being that she is my wife's daughter from her first marriage, which is only important in that as the step-dad I had no official role in the event; her birth father walked her down the aisle, my wife is the bride's mother, and my birth daughter Jagan was the flower girl. Me, I got to hold the coats and various accessories and stay out of the way. On the positive side, I think I stayed out of the way pretty well. Got a few good pictures too. The wedding was at the A.D. Bruce Chapel on the campus of the University of Houston, and the weather was perfect.

Seeing your kids get married is always bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a great day to see them commit to a life together with the one they have chosen. On the other hand, you really worry about all the things your kid still needs to learn, especially the mistakes you made and hoped you could keep your child from making. Without going into details, there are many places where I would have hoped that my daughter would have listened to good advice, usually from her mother, which is of course the reason she ignores it - I believe that a lot of kids resist admitting that their parents are right about anything, or that they could need their parents once they are themselves adults. Been there myself, y'know?

That 'don't listen to anyone else' mindset is not limited to kids, though. In business, I often see new managers decide to rip up and replace everything and everyone. Many times that means destroying the good with the bad, and what comes in may not be as good as what was lost. In discussing the problems with the automakers, some astute readers pointed out that some of the executives have not been there long, and have actually been working effectively at problems which are simply too big and which have been around too long already to be answered quickly with a few smart moves. What I have found to be the most effective practice, is for the new boss to take some time to be sure of what's going on and who's doing what before taking action or committing to a decision - you cannot depend on just what you think is the case, or what some people tell you is going on. You often need a broader and deeper perspective than what you have coming in, which is why you should consider the contribution your predecessor may be able to offer. Despite the partisanship, many outgoing presidents are able and willing to assist the new chief executive with what they know about the most important issues and policies. While a changing administration may well mean a sea change in policy direction, it is nonetheless important to understand how and why the prior president reached the decisions he did. I am curious to see if President Obama proves to be as wise as I hope my 24-year-old daughter will be.


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Comments (3)

Lileks once said something ... (Below threshold)

Lileks once said something brilliant: What you don't know at 20 can fill a book. If you write that book when you're 40, you haven't learned a thing.

I'm glad that you were able... (Below threshold)

I'm glad that you were able to be part of that event. As a step-father myself, I understand. It is a wonderful occasion, and it is sad - in a way.

It's a shame she doesn't listen to advice, but that happens. My step-son has from time to time listened. I try not to give advice. Instead I try to point out where good sources of information are, to ask questions about contingency plans, or to point out options. Sometimes all you can do is to point out what is likely to happen or what can happen so that when it does, they realize that you really do know something.

When he was in his late teens he started to discover that the old man actually did know things. I remember once when he and his friend were just about to make a mistake, I asked a question, which led to a little thought, which led to a revelation, and he said, "I would never have noticed that. How did you know?" I said for the thousandth time: "I've made more than my share of mistakes. Intelligent people learn from their mistakes. Really intelligent people learn from other people's mistakes."

The thing that a lot of people don't understand is contingency planning. If the plan fails, what's your backup plan? If this happens, what will you do?

The other sad part is that kids will live in a very different country than we did.

Got married when I was 21 a... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

Got married when I was 21 and my wife was 19. In May, no less, which is said to be an unlucky month for marriages. (Well, in a sense it is -- especially if you got married near enough to Mother's Day weekend to have all the restaurants that you want to take your spouse to in order to celebrate an anniversary full.)

People said it wouldn't last. They may be right. It's only lasted 33 years so far.

If you wait to get married until you know all the answers, you miss your life. It's learn as you go.






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