When I was 18 I almost signed the dotted line. I was also arrogant and easily brainwashed -- thinking the military was some glamorous and noble career (e.g., kill terrorists! protect our "freedoms"!). Looking back, I wish I had a guiding light like stepdad to inspire me in a different direction. In an alternate reality, I died in Iraq protecting an oil pipeline. Fortunately I was lucky and deemed ineligible to serve due to a previous broken foot.
Thus, I respectfully disagree with the end of your analysis. I think there is a difference between micromanagement and persuasion. Should stepdad forcefully try to prohibit stepson from joining the military? No. Like you said, he is a man now responsible for his own decisions. But I see no problem with stepdad persuading his stepson to try a different route. Surely if stepson was going to jump off a bridge we would encourage stepdad to persuade him otherwise (rather than sit back and let him "be a man").
Good luck with your persuasion efforts stepdad.
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