The son is in his early 40s. He has achieved financial independence after a decade of patient saving and investing despite a lacklustre career and even losing his job a couple of times. The father feels proud that the son is able to take care of himself financially despite bad luck in life. The son has never given the father cause to worry, at least when it comes to money.

Recently, the son announces that he want to retire and become a loafer. Rather than stay in a job or start some business in order to contribute to society, the son prefers to loaf around and invest/trade full-time to earn a living.

As a parent, how would you advise the son?

  • 2
    There are some details that might matter; is the son married? Does he have dependents? Why does the father object to the plan? (People do all kinds of things for money, but as long as it works, few people call it "loafing".)
    – anongoodnurse
    Dec 11, 2015 at 5:45
  • Voting to close as primarily opinion based.
    – Erik
    Dec 11, 2015 at 7:44
  • The son is married and has his own family. He can afford to support his family and even his parents. Dec 11, 2015 at 8:42
  • 3
    I'm having a trouble reconciling "lackluster career" and "will become a loafer" with "can afford to retire in their 40's and still support both family and parents". I can't think of any people in their 40's that could afford to do that even in cases where they had great careers. The only possible explanation I can think of that makes sense is that the son is really good investing/trading but doing that is hardly loafing. Usually it's a bloody hard job. Unless of course you call say founding Facebook lackluster.
    – DRF
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:43
  • 2
    Honestly, if the son is 40, I don't think it is the job of parents to give unsolicited advice. Especially not if the motivation for the advice is not 'I am concerned you cannot provide for your family' but rather 'you are doing something that is different from my world view'.
    – Ida
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


As the father in this situation, the first thing I would do is thoroughly examine my life to find why I think that remaining idle after retirement is a bad idea. Having developed philosophically sound reasons for continuing to work hard even when it is not necessary, I would then expound these to my son and try to bring him around to my viewpoint.

It's all very well to have a strong work ethic, but it doesn't automatically appeal to everyone. It is a belief system and as such it must be vigorously proselytized. I can't just wave my hands around and say it's a good thing; I have to tell my son why it's a good thing. And I can't do that unless I know why and can articulate the reasons.

On the other hand, if I can't develop philosophically sound reasons for continuing to work hard even when it is not necessary, then my son is living right, and I should just shut up.

One more thing must be noted here: investing and trading full-time to earn a living does not automatically equate to loafing around. Done properly, it is damn hard work, and significantly increases the common wealth.

  • 3
    +1 For great answer. Especially for the last paragraph. I strongly doubt that if the son is able to provide for his family and his parents he is really retiring to "loafing".
    – DRF
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:38
  • +1. You're right. Loafing is the wrong word. The son is not doing nothing. He is still doing something to earn a living. The father should not impose his own view that Wall-Street kind of job is not socially productive on his son. Dec 12, 2015 at 0:06
  • Apparently Woody Allen once said this to why he was still working in his late seventies: You know in a mental institution they sometimes give a person some clay or some basket weaving? It’s the therapy of moviemaking that has been good in my life. If you don’t work, it’s unhealthy—for me, particularly unhealthy. I could sit here suffering from morbid introspection, ruing my mortality, being anxious. But it’s very therapeutic to get up and think, Can I get this actor; does my third act work? (…) So I get pleasure from doing this. It’s my version of basket weaving. Oct 30, 2016 at 16:50

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