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The Proposal May 11, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, People.

After Sandra Bullock’s award-winning performance in The Blind Side, I searched Netflix to find other films she’s done recently and stumbled across The Proposal.

If you have 108 minutes to spare, want to see a light-hearted romantic comedy, and enjoy watching Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, or Betty White (as 90 year old “gammie”) play fairly predictable roles on screen . . . go for it.

That said, one scene stood out from the rest for me . . . enough that I paused the movie to chat about it with Bill.

The scene has to do with parental expectations for their children:

Father and Son are together for the first time in 3 years.

Dad lives in Sitka, Alaska, where he and his wife have built up “an empire” of stores, newspapers, and other businesses around town.  They live in an enormous home on the side of a large body of water (lake, bay, or sound, I’m not sure which).

Son followed his own dreams to New York City where he works as an editorial assistant in the publishing industry.  He’s still working his way up the ladder, but is happy with his choice of careers.

Dad is not.

Dad chastises his son for wasting time reading through manuscripts every day.  He criticizes him for choosing to live in New York City, instead of Sitka, Alaska.  And then he says (paraphrased):

Your mother and I worked hard to build up the family business.  You are our only son.  It’s time for you to grow up.  You need to stop wasting your life wading through badly written manuscripts and move back to Sitka.  

You have responsibilities here.

{Pause the movie}

So, here’s the thing.  Mom and Dad had a choice.  They had a choice of where to live and what to do with their life.  They chose Sitka, Alaska.  They chose to create “an empire.”  They chose to have a son ~ well, they chose to have a child who happened to be a son.

So, why can’t Dad see that Son is entitled to make the same type of choices with his own life?

Shouldn’t Son be free to choose New York City, instead of Sitka, Alaska?

Shouldn’t Son be free to choose publishing and manuscripts over running the family business?

Shouldn’t Son be entitled to make his own choices and decide for himself where his responsibilities lie?

Related Posts:  Free To Be Me * The Right Frame of Reference * Live Your Life * Finding Our Place In The World * What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? (Perfecting Motherhood)


1. Chad - May 11, 2010

Son is entitled to choose, and Dad is entitled to have an opinion and make it known – right?

2. nrhatch - May 11, 2010

Of course.

But Dad didn’t really share an opinion (hey, son, we’d love it if you moved back here with us and took over the family business so we can chill for awhile before we die) . . .

Instead, he played the guilt card, and the “grow up” card, and the “you’ve got responsibilities” card, and the “we know what’s best for you, son” card.

Not everyone can stand tall in the face of that type of manipulation.

Chad - May 11, 2010

Ah, now I see. I didn’t watch the movie.

3. viewfromtheside - April 12, 2011

it was such a fun movie, but yes, that hope the child will follow one so often hardens into force not an offer so well matched to the child that they happily accept it

nrhatch - April 12, 2011

Last night, I watched “Nowhere Boy” about John Lennon. The father of one of the boys in “The Quarrymen” (John’s first band) told his son that he HAD to be either a policeman or enter the military. Wow!

Parents with that type of dictatorial attitude probably don’t instill their children with confidence. 😦

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