Ask Abbie: Don’t compromise your values for others’ sake

Published 11:55 am Saturday, February 1, 2014

by Abbie Long

Question: I work with my dad who owns a business that has been in our family for many years. I am the only person who dad thinks will keep it running under the family name after he is gone. I have known for a while the business is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I haven’t told my dad because I don’t want to let him down. Should I just stick with the business, hope it grows on me, and be willing to accept the result regardless or should I tell him how I feel? What do you think?

Answer: In accordance with his knack for impeccable timing, Wally woke you at the pinnacle of your daydream. The increasingly frequent intruder placed a folder in your inbox and said, “Mr. Haskins, I’m sorry to bother you but if you could please take a moment to review this, I’d appreciate it. Our team would like to confirm your vision before we proceed.” Upon his request, you forfeit your daydream and open the folder. Inside you find a single piece of paper with the following written across the top:

“Please prioritize Ward’s responsibilities: father, husband and career.”

For the last month, you have been leading a dedicated team of writers on a new project, the development of a sit-com titled “Ward.” The show’s main character is a father named Ward Clever. Like his namesake Ward Cleaver in the famous ‘50’s family sit-com “Leave it to Beaver,” he unwaveringly upholds traditional family values within his home. Unlike his namesake, however, your Ward is not an office worker; he is a famous and “clever” comedian. His unique blend of humor, fatherhood and celebrity status provides many opportunities for you and your team to creatively and comedically address the serious and intense struggles between personal, work, and family values in today’s society.

You complete Wally’s recent in-box request and head down to his office. While on the way, the following thoughts halt your progress. “What if Ward’s writers were your age and had grown up during a time when traditional family values were seen more as the norm than as the exception? Would they have asked you to prioritize Ward’s responsibilities or would there have been no need for confirmation because his priorities would have been, without question, ordered correctly as husband, father and career?”

Subsequent to these thoughts you receive an overwhelming sense of confirmation that your new sit-com vision will not only become a success, but also a light into an area of pre-existing darkness within the modern view of family values. You accept this exciting confirmation with a renewed spirit and a willingness to accept the great responsibility that accompanies it. You must ensure your new show never compromises family values for profit, from fear or from pressure to conform.

With regard to your situation, does your father prioritize his responsibilities the same as Ward? If so, he has already discovered the inherent “Ward Factor” he acquired when he became a father. He places his child’s needs over his own and makes a concerted effort to teach his sons how to become men and his daughters what to expect from the men they choose to date and/or marry. He is a role model of respect, trustworthiness, accountability, self-discipline, adherence to rules and compassion. Do not fear an open and honest discussion with him about your feelings. It will be well received regardless of the approach you take or the words you choose. Proceed accordingly.

Does your father prioritize his responsibilities differently than Ward? If so, it is likely that he is the victim of unresolved emotional and/or generational pain caused by past hardships. The voice of pain he continues to hear is very loud and is drowning out his still small voice of parental intuition. Do not attempt to have an open and honest discussion with him about your feelings. It will be met with resistance regardless of the approach you take or the words you choose. Do, however, refuse to let your father’s unresolved pain and his misaligned list of priorities serve as your guide into the future. Instead, use Ward’s flashlight to illuminate your way.


ABBIE LONG is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to