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Nick Crews 'I'd be mortified if they ever needed benefits': Father whose frustrated email to his adult children went viral says he cannot regret voicing his views
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By Helen Weathers and Anna Edwards
PUBLISHED: 21:08 EST, 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 21:09 EST, 23 November 2012
Criticised: Emily Crews says her mum and dad 'just don't do tea and sympathy' following the no nonsense letter
The father who sent an excoriating email to his three children, bitterly complaining that they wallowed in their own mistakes has said he was 'relieved' that he had sent the withering message.
Retired nuclear submarine captain Nick Crews, 67, made headlines after he sent an email blasting his offspring for their 'copulation-driven' mistakes.
And the unrepentant father has gone further to say that he would be disappointed if his children ever needed benefits after they were privately educated at the expense of Mr Crews and his wife Sarah, 67.
He told the Daily Telegraph that although he regrets the email becoming public, he felt a 'sense of relief' for being true to himself.
Mr Crews says that his daughter Emily, a business interpreter, son Fred, who works in a taxi office, and another daughter who works in a sailing shop, have not lived up to their potential.
He said he was frustrated that they should have fulfilled their capabilities.
'It upsets me that they occupy basic-wage positions instead of working at the upper periphery of their capability.
'I would be mortified if they were to need 0 either immediately or in later life - state benefits.
'I long to see them take responsibility for their actions.'
When he sent the email, it shocked his daughter Emily Crews-Montes, 40.
The surgeon’s wife and mother-of-three who relocated to Brittany in 2009 after marrying a French doctor had expected a few soothing words of parental comfort in response to her regular, anxious phone calls home about her life abroad.
She had regaled her mother with tales of woe about the loss of her high-flying career in Britain and her financial independence, the unfathomable ways of the French and the demands of family life.
to Emily and her two younger siblings — also seemingly struggling with
the unexpected challenges of modern life — the email, written in
February, began pleasantly enough with, ‘Dear All Three’. But the
excoriating salvo directly in its slipstream left Emily reeling.
Pride: Former nuclear submarine commander Nick Crews aged 29 with his oldest child Emily Crews aged 2 back in 1974
last evening’s crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for
which you seem to treat your mother as a cess-pit, I feel it is time for
me to come off my perch,’ her 67-year-old father wrote.
He continued: ‘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.’
Bemoaning his children’s broken marriages and the effect of these on his beloved grandchildren, plus — in his view — his offspring’s abject failure to capitalise on the private education they had enjoyed courtesy of Mum and Dad, Nick Crews did not mince his words.
If it wasn’t for the ‘beautiful’
grandchildren, he wrote, ‘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 weep 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.’
Fed up of ‘being forced to live through
the never-ending bad dream of our children’s under-achievement and
Mr Crews concludes he wants to hear no more from them until they have something positive to tell him. He signs off: ‘I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed. Dad’.
‘It was horrendous receiving that
email from my father,’ Emily, an Exeter University psychology graduate
who went to Stoodley Knowle boarding school in Torquay, told the Mail.
‘I was hoping for pearls of wisdom and a bit of moral support and it felt like a nasty kick in the teeth at a time when I felt extremely stressed.
‘In Britain, I’d been eminently
employable, with 15 years of experience as a contract buyer for big
companies, but all that counted for nothing in France.
I lived in a beautiful house, but, under French law, I had no rights
over it and felt very unsettled and worried about the future.
‘When my husband Pierre came home, I couldn’t even talk to him about it, I just wanted to cry.
‘My father has always been my role model and I think it grates on him that despite our private educations none of us has turned into the next Richard Branson. It’s painful to be told you’ve been a disappointment.’
have been rather strained ever since Mr Crews fired off what he now
calls his ‘Sh**-O-Gram’ in the hope of giving his offspring a timely
‘kick up the backside’.
His 35-year-old son Fred, a divorced father who recently re-married and had a second child, refuses to speak to his father until he gets an apology.
It has long been a source of
disappointment to Mr Crews that, despite an expensive education at
Sherborne public school in Dorset, his son has yet to settle into a
Today, his son works in a taxi office, but has had a variety of jobs including working as a pizza delivery driver.
The same goes for Mr Crews’
38-year-old younger daughter, a single mother-of-two since her marriage
broke up just over a year ago.
He is pleased she’s now working in a shop, but with her university degree in marine studies, couldn’t she be aiming a little higher?
Happier times: Emily Crews with her father Nick Crews on the day of Emily's first wedding on November 20, 1999
Of the three, only Emily is still talking to her father, but their efforts to bring about an entente cordiale in the wake of the devastation appear shaky to say the least. Especially when one’s major life decisions have been dismissed as ‘copulation-driven’.
admits she was already pregnant when she married her first husband — a
South African architect — and perhaps didn’t realise how tough life
might be in France when she fell head over heels in love with Pierre.
But she feels that her father’s blunt appraisal is unduly harsh.
was Mr Crew’s scathing email the product of two out-of-touch,
stiff-upper-lip parents with unrealistically high expectations of their
The kind of parents who long to boast
at dinner parties of their children’s achievements? Or is it the kind
of email many ageing parents — still nurturing their needy, financially
struggling, emotionally dependent offspring well into their late 30s and
40s — would secretly love to write?
Emily, now working as a translator in France, still finds her father’s
email hard to stomach, but admits: ‘A lot of what Dad said is true and
with time I’ve become more sympathetic towards his point of view.
he said is what a lot of people of his age, gender and class would
probably like to say to their children but would never dare to.
‘My parents have been married for 42 years and are of a generation who gritted their teeth and just got on with it when times were tough. I can see how exasperated they must be,’ says Emily who has two children — Margot, two-and-a-half, and Antoine, 18 months — with Pierre, and Jemima, 12, from her previous four-year marriage. ‘We were probably all phoning home with our various troubles or unwelcome news and they must have felt overwhelmed and wished we would just grow up.
‘Our parents were very sad when our marriages broke down and used to say they’d look at pictures of the grandchildren and just well up with tears, worrying what it would do to their lives. They obviously hate how our lives have turned out, but my daughter Jemima has blossomed since our move to France and is fully bi-lingual.’
She adds: ‘None of us has been a drain on the State, none of us has got into drugs or done anything bad.
‘None of us is lazy or has asked them for money. We’ve been no trouble to him financially or socially. My father’s problem is disappointment.
‘What he said in his email was quite correct, but I don’t think it was the right kind of support or the kick up the backside he intended it to be. I think he has created a monster out of the worst of us and ignored the best.
'You all crash from one cock-up to another'
‘They’re just not 21st-century parents. They find it deeply embarrassing, the whole idea of talking to your children, having to help them or provide emotional support.’
printout of the offending email sits on the kitchen table of the elegant
six-bedroom home Mr Crews shares with his wife Sarah in Plymouth,
Devon. Mr Crews, a jovial, no-nonsense type, describes himself as a
‘stroppy b****r’ who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and tells it as it is —
no matter how upsetting that may be.
He says he has re-read the missive several times since he sent it in February and has come to the unapologetic conclusion that: ‘I really couldn’t have written it any better. I wouldn’t change a thing.’
continues: ‘I love all my children. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have written
it, but if a father can’t tell his kids the truth, then who can? They
have to learn to live in the beds they made for themselves. I’m a
product of my age, upbringing and a profession which is uncompromising.
‘As a naval officer, you have to make up your mind quickly and live with the consequences of the decisions you’ve made for better or worse.’
It is clear he wishes he’d never felt compelled to write it and insists it was only concern for his grandchildren that made him do so. ‘When I wrote the email there had been seemingly endless telephone calls from Emily saying how dreadful everything was in France,’ says Mr Crews.
Nick Crews, pictured here with daughter Emily, said that he couldn't have written the letter any better and wouldn't change anything about it
‘Our younger daughter’s marriage had just broken up and our son was getting married again with a new baby on the way.
‘Sarah would take these calls — I avoided them thinking it was “women’s stuff” — and any word of solace or advice she gave was batted back. The children were all dumping on their mother and it was having a horrible effect on her.‘I remember walking through the kitchen one evening and Sarah was sitting with her head in her hands, obviously in despair, and it’s not nice seeing your wife in that condition.
been consulted about our children’s decisions, yet seemed to be on the
receiving end when it all went pear-shaped. In the preceding ten years,
we didn’t think it was any of our business how they ran their lives or
always taken the view that parents are the biggest hurdle to any
marriage, so we’ve tended to take a back seat. But with these endless
phone calls of one seeming disaster after another, everything polarised
in my mind. I thought for one reason or another, we hadn’t been very
successful parents. How can you be when you’ve witnessed the break-up of
been watching my children crashing around like bulls in a china shop and
I had visions of their beautiful little children facing a life of chaos
at home. I felt I had to come off my perch and say what I’d lacked the
guts to say before.
‘I showed the email to Sarah and said “I know they won’t like it”, but she supported me totally. I knew it wouldn’t be appreciated, that it would be like throwing a hand grenade into a pond, but I wanted the ripples to go out. Throughout my career, I’ve seen people write tactful pieces and tact doesn’t work. People don’t take notice.’
Sarah, the daughter of an Army
officer, adds: ‘You can’t keep a lid on a volcano. It needed saying. I
agreed with it totally. I wouldn’t have said it myself, but it needed
The son of a naval officer, Mr Crews admits his attitudes were shaped by his own demanding parents, who insisted he write to them from boarding school every week, a tradition which continued into his 40s.
‘My parents were very controlling, which I found very suffocating, so I vowed never to be like that. My children may disagree, but I regarded myself as quite liberal. None of the children consulted us on their choice of spouse, which was fine by us — our parents hadn’t approved of our marriage either,’ says Mr Crews.
‘But perhaps I should have been more involved than I was, because sometimes it has felt like being a spectator, watching a roller-coaster lurching out of control.
‘So, no, it didn’t feel good to send that email. I hated having to send it and I have examined my conscience.
‘My son is holding out for an
apology, but I still mean every word. Emily has digested it, but the
other two are still angry with the messenger.
‘My view is that when you have children, you have a moral obligation to do the very best you can for them.
‘There were many times when I felt frustrated in my naval career and wanted to leave, do something else, but once I had started down the private education route for my children I was trapped. I made sacrifices for them — that’s what parents do.
'I made sacrifices for them - that's what parents do'
‘I am not snobbish about delivering pizzas for a living or working in a shop, but if you’ve had a good education don’t you have an obligation to your own children to put it to use?
‘What I am sorry for is that I have been such a failure as a dad that it has come to this.
‘That makes me weep, especially when you hear other people, our friends, talking about their children who are paragons, when I can’t give any good news.
‘I love and approve of my children whatever they do, but they have to realise that once you have children everything changes. It upsets me daily to think of my grandchildren.
‘I look on myself as someone who’s had some useful experience and I’d like to put that at the disposal of the children, but it just falls on deaf ears. It’s enough to make you cry.’
Mr Crews’ younger daughter — who asked not to be named — told the Mail yesterday: ‘I feel I didn’t deserve to receive the email from my father.
‘We are not triplets and all have different lives. I don’t want to burn bridges by saying more but I think I’m owed an apology.’
His son declined to comment.
Emily Crews-Montes says living in France has helped her see things from her parents’ point of view.
‘The French are far more critical of each other than in Britain,’ she says, but adds: ‘It’s all well and good for my parents to moan, but they should try being us for size and see how they like it. I don’t think my father would have achieved all he did had he been born in our generation.
‘My parents just don’t do tea and sympathy and never have.’