What a royal mess.
There is perhaps no brighter glare from a spotlight on Earth than that surrounding Britain’s Royal Family. Our forefathers were smart enough to break away from a country that took a bunch of people and allowed them to have all the land, money, and power they wanted, without having to work for it.
We stayed free of that kind of thing until, well, the Kardashians.
So the question becomes, what lesson does Meghan Markle’s unfortunate situation with her father have for the rest of us?
In case your mom suspended your social media accounts for misbehavior, you need to know that Timothy Markle is the father of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. He famously missed her wedding due to health problems and was accused of setting up a photo shoot with paparazzi, much to the consternation of the Royals.
So Meghan wrote a letter to her dad, pleading that he stop misbehaving publicly. That letter, of course, was followed by further public misbehavior on her father’s part in the form of making her private letter public. So the first lesson that we can draw from this unhappy situation is that if you don’t want your private letters to your father spread all over the news and social media, all over the planet, don’t marry a British prince.
After all, had Meghan remained single, we would never have heard of her or her dad. So that’s lesson one -- never marry a Royal, because then your life will turn into a royal pain.
On a more serious note, the question really becomes what to do about a parent who is difficult to understand, get along with, or even coexist with. So I’d like to offer a few suggestions based on my own hard-won experience in life, the details of which would only matter to the world if I had married Prince Harry’s imaginary younger sister.
First, recognize that your parents have nothing you need.
Most of us are con artists in the sense that we con ourselves into believing that our desires in life are actually needs. What do we really need? Enough money and food for the day. Warm clothes. Our rent or mortgage paid for the month, so we have somewhere to sleep. A bed. Maybe a spiritual life.
Those are the necessities. Everything else is a desire, a wish, or just something that sounds good. We think that as adults, we need the love, respect, or good behavior of our parents. In reality, we might like to have those things, but we don’t need them. We can get by fine without them. The problem comes when we commit ourselves to the belief that we cannot be happy unless we have that love, and have it on our terms.
So that’s really the first suggestion -- recognize that your parents have nothing you need and that you can be perfectly happy no matter what they’re doing.
Second, recognize that your parents are doing the best they can with the tools they have. Nobody’s parent ever woke up and said, “I wonder how I can ruin little Johnny’s life today.” Hurt people…hurt people. So if you have a parent who grew up in an unhappy home, a home with addiction, a broken home, or no home, you can’t really expect that person to know how to be a great parent.
Everybody’s parents, including the parents of my children (my wife and me), are doing the best they can at every given moment based on the tools, experience, and knowledge they have. If parents knew better, myself included, we would do better.
Nobody’s perfect. So it’s time to stop expecting our parents to be “good” parents. They did, and are doing, the best they could, and that has to be good enough.
Next, stop trying to change, improve, or otherwise “help” a troubled parent. If Meghan Markle had never written that letter, it never would have gone public. Of course, we may find ourselves embarrassed by our parents. It happens, and not just to Royals. But the problem comes when we think that we can somehow modify or improve our parents’ behavior, mostly to make ourselves more comfortable. That’s just not how the world works. Parents are going to be who they are, and do what they do, and 9 out of 10 times, they are not going to listen to their kids’ requests that they do better or be better. It all comes down to acceptance, which doesn’t mean liking a situation. It just means living in the reality of it.
In a perfect world, Mr. Markle would have shown up at the royal wedding, participated as appropriate, smiled for photographs (without the paparazzi thing), and then caught a flight home. End of story. The fact that he didn’t do that is unfortunate for Meghan and the rest of her family, both new and acquired, but it’s not the end of the world. Things like that are only as important as we make them out to be. But the idea of hoping to modify or improve a parent’s behavior, especially if our real goal is just to make ourselves more comfortable, is a mission doomed to fail.
The final suggestion: Stop giving problems oxygen. Problems are like fire -- if they don’t get oxygen, they burn themselves out. To the extent that Meghan, or any of us, pay attention to the behavior of a loved one, whether it’s a parent or anyone else, that’s how long the story will continue. There are reports that Queen Elizabeth herself is upset about the situation. Well, if there hadn’t been a letter, and an attempt to modify the behavior of the father, and all the surrounding oxygen the story has been given, then Queen Elizabeth would have been free to do whatever it is that she does all day, which, of course, is a mystery to everyone.
I’m glad I live in the U.S. where the only royalty we have are the Kardashians, and we don’t have to support them with our tax dollars, unlike our poor benighted cousins across the Atlantic, who are on the hook for the extravagant lifestyles of their Royal Family.
I would personally move them out of Britain and get them some villas in the South of France, turn Buckingham Palace into an AirBnB, and the massive gardens behind it into a public park. No one’s going to take my suggestions in that area. But I do hope that anyone struggling with the behavior of a parent will take my serious suggestions seriously.
There’s no changing people, and we can’t even help people with whom we’re emotionally involved. Let them be, stop expecting things from people who cannot provide those things, and recognize that we can live happy, productive lives regardless of what others, even close relatives, are doing or saying.
Otherwise, we will remain royally…let’s just say unhappy.