If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

March 1945


What do you do about home gatherings with your ex-in-laws? Do they all love you? Ours evidently do not, and we are in a quandary, for we would like to see our grandchildren.

I have always made every effort to stay on friendly terms with our grandchildren's parents and their relatives. Sometimes, even when a break comes between two people, if you have loved not only your own child but the other person involved, it is possible to understand what has happened. In that case you can continue a fairly close relationship. Sometimes this may not be possible, but with courtesy and consideration and a real desire to be on friendly terms I think an arrangement can be made whereby the children in the family can grow up with affection for the relatives on both sides of the family.


Why don't boys who have been overseas for two years and more get furloughs home?

Because furloughs depend on military necessity and the shipping which may be available both ways. For instance, it is easier to bring boys home from the European area than it is from the Pacific area. The distances are so much greater in the Pacific, and so far materials that we have had to ship have required all the shipping space that was available. Therefore, the established policy of rotation of both Army and Navy hasn't always worked.


What do you think should be done in this country to encourage larger families?

In European countries bonuses have been paid, but I should think in this country that cheaper medical and hospital care, higher wages, better farm income—in fact, more economic security—would mean a lessening of maternal and infancy morality and would probably be the American answer to the question.


Can an Italian prisoner of war in this country become a United States citizen?

The Geneva Convention relating to prisoners of war—Article 75—states that when the belligerents conclude a convention of armistice they must, in principle, have appear therein a stipulation regarding the repatriation of prisoners of war. At the termination of the hostilities and following repatriation, the individual would first have to make arrangements to come to the United States under the immigration laws and then could seek naturalization.


If you had it all to do over again, and the man being the same, would you prefer to fall in love with a man whose career kept you out of the limelight?

I really haven't an idea, and I do not suppose anybody ever calculated beforehand what her preference would be! Most of us learn to accept whatever we have and make use of it as we live our lives. The limelight is something I would never have sought, but I cannot say that I worry about it particularly now that I have had it. I just don't think about it.


Do you think it is true that men are more sentimental than women?

Of course this is one of those generalizations that cannot be proved either way. From my own experience, I should say that men, on the whole, are more sentimental than women. I do not mean that they have more sentiment, however.


Why do you so strongly advocate a year of training to discipline the youth of our nation?

I do not advocate a year of training to discipline the youth of our nation. Discipline is a by-product. I think we are likely to have a year of military training, and I would prefer not to have it completely military because I feel that all that can be learned along military lines can probably be taught either in three months or in a certain number of hours each day over the period of a year. Much might be given our boys and girls during this year which would be valuable to them for the rest of their lives and which would have for its main objective increasing the understanding and responsibility for citizenship in a democracy.


Do you always wear six rings at a time on your fingers?

No, I never wear rings in the country when I am doing any work where they would be in the way. Whatever jewelry I wear usually has some historic interest or personal interest, and I like to wear things which have been given to me by friends and which have some personal association.


Are you in favor of legalized lotteries?

I do not know a great deal about the subject, but on the whole I think I am against legalizing gambling as you do in a lottery.


Is it true that our infantry troops now fighting the Germans will be transferred to the Pacific after victory in Europe?

No one except the military authorities could answer this, and I imagine they could not answer it at the present time. So much will depend upon the conditions in the Pacific, the shipping available, and the conditions of our troops in Europe as well as European conditions as a whole.


Canadian stores are selling U.S. Lend-Lease butter at thirty-eight cents a pound, all you want and no points. Our stores are displaying "Sorry, no butter" signs. What's the answer?

The answer is that is not true. No Lend-Lease butter is going to Canada. Lend-Lease butter is going nowhere except to Russia, and the War Food Administration is paying forty-six cents a pound for that.


Do you think that young children get the right kind of loving care when they are left at a nursery while their mother works? The mother I am thinking of is the wife of a solider.

If a mother is gifted in taking care of her child it is certainly preferable to be at home with it. There are many mothers, however, who are not well adapted to the constant care of children and who would rather work, for part of the time at least.

In the case you mentioned, I should say that it is not probably entirely a question of choice. The wife of a solider might very well need the extra money which she can make by working. She might feel that working will keep her mind more occupied and will give her a feeling that she is of more value to her husband and therefore will help her through the difficult time of separation and anxiety.

A child in a well-run day nursery gets good care, and I do not think would suffer as long as the mother was with it the rest of the twenty-four hours.


What do you consider the most unattractive characteristic of a woman's manner in social activities—loquaciousness, reticence, aloofness, insincere enthusiasm, cattiness, and so on?

I consider the most unattractive characteristic anyone can have, man or women, is the kind of selfishness or lack of consideration which leads to all the other things you have mentioned. One of the very important social attributes of a woman is that she be interested in other people more than in herself.


What do you think about a couple aged forty-five adopting a baby? After nine years of marriage we have no children and are financially able to raise and educate a child well.

If you want to adopt a baby, I think it would be a great joy to you, and there is absolutely no reason why you should not prove very satisfactory parents. The only thing to guard against is the fact that as we grow older we grow more timid. One of the advantages of being young parents lies in the fact that they have courage to let their children do the kind of things that children usually do or try to do which are, on the whole, rather adventurous and terrifying to older people. Secondly, some provision should be made for continuing the child's education if anything should happen either to you or your husband before the child is grown.


Is there any one postwar purchase which you are looking forward to making?

Yes. I am anxiously waiting until the day when I can buy a new station wagon for the country, since the one I now have is becoming almost impossible to use.


Why is the rooster the symbol of the Democratic Party on the voting ballot?

I had to do some research on this, and here is what I found. The following appeared in the November 23, 1932, issue of the Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer; it is taken from Mark Sullivan's column which appeared in the New York Herald Tribune:

Mr. Daniels, the editor, says that the rooster is the true emblem; that the donkey was fastened on the party in a derisive spirit, chiefly by the famous cartoonist, Tom Nast, during the 80's and 90's in the then equally famous Harpers Weekly.

The Democratic National Committee called a news service and they said that the rooster "heralded victory and the dawn of a new day."


Do you believe a good marriage is dependent on a thorough search for a "one and only," or do you feel the majority of possibilities would be just as successful with the proper amount of co-operation and adjustment?

The Old World believed that marriage was an institution for the benefit of the family, and therefore they trained their men and girls to meet that need. Older and wiser heads chose the two people who should marry and much freedom was left to the man, at least, as to whether he was faithful in the marriage relationship. In most cases he preserved appearances and the girls were trained to expect just what they got. Our conception has always been different, and therefore I think it is rather wise to try to find the "one and only," through a good many people seem to make mistakes and have to enter upon the search more than once.

< Previous Column 1945 Next Column >

About this document

If You Ask Me, March 1945

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 62, March 1945

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC