It seems dramatic. It seems powerful. It seems like the right thing to do.
The last words of John Dutton’s father in Yellowstone were intended to give his son purpose—a rule to follow, always. “Don’t let them take it from you, son,” he tells a younger John as he’s dying. “Not a goddamned inch.”
But what did this well-meaning advice become? It became an immense burden, a terrible fate that condemned his son and the subsequent generations of his family to conflict and misery, despite their enormous wealth.
Early on in Daily Dad, we told the (true) story of Amanda Pearson and her daughter Josephine. Before she took her final breath in 1915, Pearson grabbed Josephine’s hand and said, “Daughter, when I’m gone—if the Susan B. Anthony Amendment issue reaches Tennessee, promise me you will take up the opposition, in my memory!” Josephine would become one of the most radical opponents of women’s rights that America has ever seen.
Deathbed demands are cruel and selfish.
As we’ve said before, our job is to help our kids become who they are meant to be, not who we want them to be. It’s not to force them to be soldiers in our personal army, fighting our old battles once we’re gone. It’s not their responsibility to carry on your business or protect your legacy or fight for what you fought for. You gave them life—it’s theirs now. Let them live as they see fit. Let them work where they want to work, fight for what they want to fight for, and build their own legacy free of unfair expectations.
Don’t burden them. Let them be who they are.