Son’s SEAL Plans Worry His Parents

By Amy Dickinson | January 5th, 2024

He should ‘use his brain instead of his physical abilities,’ they say

A Navy SEAL frogman in the water. For Ask Amy, Son’s SEAL Plans Worry His Parents

Parents raise their children to be independent, with worthy goals for the future, but this son’s lofty decision isn’t what these parents had in mind. Their son’s SEAL plans worry his parents, so they reach out to “Ask Amy” for advice.

Dear Amy:

My wife and I have a son who is 22 years old. He will be graduating from an excellent college with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He’s a smart and physically fit young man who has great potential.

He plans to join the Navy after he graduates, and his goal is to train to become a Navy SEAL. He wants to “make a difference” in the world and is very gung-ho with defending/serving the United States.

Although his intentions are admirable, we are aware that becoming a Navy SEAL is extremely difficult and that the process pushes applicants beyond their physical limits.

He is, of course, aware of the rigors of SEAL training and is preparing himself for it.

We are extremely concerned about our son being sent into combat. If he is intent on joining the military, we think that he can better serve his country by going into an area where he can use his brain instead of his physical abilities.

We have talked to him about this, but he won’t really listen to us (because, of course, we are his parents).

How can we make him realize that there are alternatives to serving his country aside from trying to become a Navy SEAL?

– Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned:

As an almost-graduate at his excellent college, your son is surrounded by information about his options. Trust in his intelligence, even if you believe that he is naïve. This is his dream, not yours, and he has the right to pursue it.

You should approach this challenge the way he will – by meeting the future in stages.

According to the Navy’s website, training to become a SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) is extremely rigorous (they describe it as “brutal”) and lasts for over a year after basic training. After completing that phase, SEAL candidates have another 18 months of “pre-deployment” training. (And … to speak to your concern about your son “using his brain,” intelligence and mental toughness – as well as grit – are key components to success.)

The many stages of training will give your son multiple opportunities to rethink his choice and be presented with alternative ways to serve.

Your job as parents is to be honest with him about your reservations, but to also let him know that ultimately, you have his back.

Furthermore, even though you obviously have concerns, expressing pride in his ambition and admirable goals will likely make this process easier for him.

Not standing in your son’s way may also disrupt the particular dynamic where your opposition essentially strengthens his resolve to defy you.

Love and support him fiercely through this important stage of his life.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from when a son’s SEAL plans worry his parents to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2023 by Amy Dickinson

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