Monday, August 16, 1943
Everybody has opinions on how to raise children. Today’s parents are swamped by books and blogs but in Lois’ day advice pretty much came only from family and friends and the doctor. In fact, Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book won’t come out until 1946. So please cut Lois a little slack when you read the response she wrote today to her father’s child-rearing advice: “Dear Ma and Pa, You must forgive me, Ma, if I remain one generation behind you in understanding. When I was a child, I couldn’t understand what it was like to have children and worry about them. Now that I’m on the threshold of that experience, the worry of a prospective grandmother is very hard for me to conceive. But that’s the way life goes and you were no different when you were where I am in relation to your mother.” So far so good. But then she had to go and take on the neighbor’s boy: “The other day Abe and I were talking about this business of disciplining children, particularly little babies. We were trying to remember how it was done to us, because we both agree that we turned out pretty well. The occasion for this discussion was the one-year old boy next door. He has his doting parents completely buffaloed. They are nice enough people. But they sure have a noisy kid. His technique is simple. He screams until he gets what he wants. He refuses to be left alone, wants to be picked up all the time, and when his lungs get going, the top of my head flies off from the percussion. They [his parents] never say ‘no’ to him or let him see them frown so he has no way of knowing that he was wrong. It’s hard on the neighbors and it’s going to be hard all around when he has to learn. They practically sterilize all the furniture he touches and they hover around him so he will not so much as bump his little head. Well, anyhow, we decided that we are going to be different. But his mother says to me: ‘Wait until you have your own!’ And that warning curdles my soul. Is it necessary to become hopelessly stupid about children just because they are your own? This ‘Wait until you have your own’ scares me. ” We’ll see.