My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Tuesday—My journeys are over, and I can hardly realize that I have covered so much territory and seen so many of my children and grandchildren.

A newspaper woman, on one of my stops, tried to catechize me on the proper relationship between parents and their children. It grew out of remark I made that I was horribly neat, and she wanted to know if one could be too neat. Because I had nothing better to say, I answered, "Yes, if one nags one's family too much on the subject, and makes life miserable for everyone." Thereupon she asked if I had succeeded in making my children as neat as I was myself. She had brought her son down to meet me, so I gathered she found it very difficult to make him live up to her own standards.

The answer, of course, is that having children is, perhaps, the beginning of an education for them, but it is certainly the beginning of an education for their parents. All their young lives their parents are learning self-control, patience, a sense of values, how to respect other people's personalities and yet not neglect teaching some things which, if they are not learned young, must be learned in later life with far greater hardship.

When these early years are over, this type of education comes to an end. The parents think they have done all they can do in the way of home discipline and education, and a new phase of mutual education begins. Parents then find that having developed individuals, they must permit those individuals to live their own lives, to have their own experiences, to make their own decisions, sometimes to make their own mistakes.

I don't know how other parents are, but I know that for myself, I can stand back and look at my children and what they do and think, once they are grown up, with a certain amount of objectivity. On the other hand, I know quite well that there is a bond between us, and that right or wrong, that bond could never be broken. I am proud of them when I think they have acquited themselves well, regardless of what the rest of the world may think. Even when I disagree and feel impelled to tell them so, I know that I understand them better than anyone else, perhaps. They are always my children, with the right to call upon me in case of need.

The greatest contribution the older generation can give, I think, to the younger generation, is the feeling that there is someone to fall back upon, more especially when the hard times of life come upon them. That is so even when we know that we have brought those hard times upon ourselves.

Funny that a newspaper woman, in a casual interview at an airport, should force me to think of one of the most binding relationships in life. I have been immersed in personal things for several days, and it is rather a strange transition back to a life which is completely taken up with public affairs.

Here we think of nothing but the election. Whatever happens, I hope the outcome will be beneficial to the people of the country.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL