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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 6 (June, 1931)

Gruenberg, Sidonie Matsner
When children grow up,   pp. 36-37 PDF (1.1 MB)

Page 36

all peoples-the period between
TH1ROUGH all the ages-among
childhood and adulthood has
been looked upon as an exceed-
ingly critical and significant stage.
It is the period of transition from
irresponsibility; the period of ad-
justment to work, to sex, to the
community of grown men and women
The adolescent finds in himself daily
surprises and revelations; and still
more is he the source of constant
surprises and revelations to his open-
eyed elders.                         vide the op
TIhe most sudden of showers, how-  all boys and
ever, never comes from a blue sky.
The clouds have blown      up  too
(]uickly to leave us time to run to
-hwlter or to prepare for the down-
p, ur-but clouds are there. In the same way we
Lw.e to recognize that the little surprises which
the boy or girl springs upon us at adolescence have
been for some time in the making. They are part
aI parcel of growth itself-growth that has been
a lng on at varying rates from the very beginning.
He see a new self-consciousness; but there has
been self-consciousness before. We become aware
of multitudes of new interests and curiosities, new
ouestionings about the world and about life; these
are but accumulations of trends that have been
moving from the earliest years. What is new is
the change of rate, the coming to the surface, the
concentration within a rather short period, of proc-
e--s that have been going on throughout chill-
We parents need not feel called upon to defend
rjustify everything that exists, every custom,
erv institution, every practice, every statute;
et are not of equal value. But neither are we
r, uired to abandon everything that is challenged;
me things are relatively lasting.
We must be prepared to give help in interpreting
the very things that puzzle and bewilder youth. In
offering to give this help, however, we must realize
that we are engaged with them upon a common
quest; we are not always sure of the answers in
It is this that makes the parents' task an especially
challenging one today. parents have at all times
had difficulty in interpreting to youth the standards
and practices that they wished to carry over; but
Hn modern life there have been so many changes
sanctions as well as in usage that we are no longer
sure of our own standards.
We can well sympathize with the mother who
a ks whether she should allow her sixteen-vear-old
nts' job to pro-
portunities for
girls to meet
ually together
than on precedent or conventional rules.
Many of us see rouge on cheeks and lips every
day, until we no longer notice it. When, however,
our own Betty makes her first experiment in im-
proving upon nature, we are shocked. We see red
for the first time. We suddenly recall that in the
days of our youth nice girls didn't (1o that. We
begin to moralize on the subject; but we are caught
up short with the reminder that some of the very
nicest women in town do it. We temporize: she
is still so young. We compromise: it is not go.
taste. Eventually we capitulate: it is only a mat i
of fashion--sometimes more tannish, sometinr
more purplish-but not a moral question at all!
Many a mother has had to learn this from b
daughter or her neighbors. Unfortunately, man%
mother has failed to learn it, with the result that
she has weakened her own position when a me
important issue came up later; or, which is equal:
unfortunate, that the daughter never quite di-
covers that some issues in life are more fundamentl
than others.
T HE need for constant help in the interpretal
of life is particularly apparent in the adolesce
adjustment to sex. For a generation, and m
rapidly since the war, parents have been accept:
the idea that children should have sex educati
With many, however, this has meant merely an
early introduction to the biological facts about
reproduction, a replacement of the stork legend
with something "scientific." This is obviously in-
sufficient.  The facts need constantly to be in-
terpreted to young people: What does sex mean
in relation to the emotional life? What are its social
implications, what is its relation to what is dailv
happening in the world around us? (Turn to page 103)
IL f,
Here is a valuable article for parents
on the problems of adolescence. This
department gives each month the new-
est findings in child      psychology.        Its
editor, Marion M. Miller, answers all
letters. (Remember,astampedenvelop!)
Peutrgrap h     1,              of
daughter "to come home from a
dance with a young man whom she
knows only slightly." But we can
give her no easy answer, since there
is no standard mode of conduct
that applies to "girls of sixteen" al-
ways and everywhere. It all de-
pends.  And that is where the
responsibility of the parent comes
in: not to say arbitrarily yes or no,
but to take into consideration the
hour, the circumstances, the girl's
maturity and judgment. Much de-
pends upon the "who," the "where"
and "how." What may be perfectly
suitable under one set of circum-
stances is unthinkable in other.
Each such question must be decided
as it arises, on its own merits rather
=   b

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