My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—I spent an interesting day in New Jersey last week, visiting an institution called Allaire. Situated in Monmouth County, it is a state institution which was made possible by funds donated by the Brisbane family. It is for children of average intelligence who have been emotionally disturbed, but who are brought there with the consent and cooperation of their parents.

Visiting such institutions and talking with intelligent psychiatrists broadens one's understanding of children and the causes which bring about these emotional disturbances which often take so long to remedy. Among other things, the doctor in charge of Allaire, Dr. Georges Lussier, read us at lunch a letter from a boy whose troubles had finally led him into prison. When he got out, the boy wanted to go as far away as possible and try to start a new life. He wrote a letter to his parents in the hope that what he told them might help other parents to do better with their children.

In his letter, the boy recognized that his parents had done a great deal for him—that they had given him toys, that they had given him education. But, he told them, the toys at the end of a week no longer held any interest; what he really wanted of his parents was for them to have time to listen to him. They were so busy earning money or making plans for him that they never had time to listen to him, to get to know him, or allow him to get to know them.

It was a very revealing letter and one that I think carries a useful lesson to a great many parents. A child may be denied many physical things, but he may still be rich in love and understanding. On the other hand, he may have many of the things people covet in this world, yet be poor and deprived emotionally. That is one of the reasons we find emotionally disturbed children in families where this world's goods are abundant, as well as among the very poor.

In a recent column, I apparently did not make it quite clear that it was a voluntary committee which was raising money for scholarships for Negro doctors at Johns Hopkins University. We need good colored doctors very badly in this country. This is one of our shortages, for colored doctors have fewer opportunities for education than they should have.

I wonder how many people ever think of the American Chess Foundation as an educational group. But that is exactly how we should look upon it. They are soliciting our help again this year, and I received a special appeal to help a young boy of 15 who is making his mark in this very interesting international game.

Chess is encouraged in schools, in the armed forces, and by those who are interested in our senior citizens. It is in fact an adjunct to all education, and contributions to the American Chess Foundation are looked upon by the government as contributions to an educational institution. So encourage your children to play chess and help others to do so through this organization.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL