With her very last breath in 1915, Amanda Pearson grabbed her daughter 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!”
How terribly sad. This mother decided that the very last thing she should do on this planet was not only repeat her regressive and ridiculous views (that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote) but also that the last thing she should give to her daughter was an assignment—an obligation she had to fulfill. Naturally, such bad parenting did have an effect on Josephine and she became one of the most vociferous and radical opponents of women’s rights that America has ever seen. We don’t tend to think about there being female opposition to the 19th Amendment, but indeed there was. Following her mother’s deranged wishes, Josephine very nearly blocked the amendment in Tennessee, which would have prevented it from becoming law in the rest of the United States.
What can Dads learn from this little historical incident? First off, let your kids develop their own views. As we’ve talked about before, our children are not pawns in the culture war. Nor are they soldiers in an army we’re building. Don’t force your religion on them. Don’t bully them in political discussions. Don’t assume you’re on the right side of history with your beliefs—because chances are…you aren’t! Finally, your kids should not have to do anything ‘in your memory.’ You’ll be dead. What do you care? It’s not their responsibility to carry on your business or protect your legacy or to 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. Deathbed demands are cruel and selfish.
Leave your kids alone. Let them be who they are.