If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1946


Would you advise a girl to marry a man who has just returned from overseas as soon as possible, or should she wait five or six months until he is settled in civilian life?

That is a personal question which everyone, I think, has to decide for herself. If you marry a man who has just returned from overseas, you will know you are going to have not only the usual period of adjustment which comes in every marriage, but the added adjustment which every man must make on his return to civilian life. If a woman truly loves a man, however, and fully understands what she is doing, she may feel that they can work out their new life better together than apart, but that is something they have to decide and no one can decide it for them.


Is it true that most Frenchmen preferred the German occupation to the presence of the Allied troops, particularly American? If this is so, what can we do to overcome the prejudice? What, also, have we done to deserve it?

No. I do not think that most Frenchmen prefer German occupation to the presence of Allied troops, particularly Americans. Naturally they had to make up their minds to considerable destruction of their towns and villages which, under the Germans, had not been destroyed. When they found themselves constantly worse off than they had been before liberation which they longed for, life took on a sad aspect; but by and large, I feel sure that the French as a whole are grateful that they are free again. I think we can make the effort to understand them better. That is always a good antidote to any prejudice. The only think we have done to deserve dislike anywhere in the world is to be rather satisfied with ourselves and therefore not very anxious to find out about other people.


Why doesn't everyone in the United States have to pay an income tax of at least five dollars? Don't you think this would make everyone feel a sense of responsibility as a citizen?

I do not know why you set five dollars as the sum to be paid. I think everyone should pay an income tax, but there are some incomes so low that five dollars would be almost impossible to accumulate during the year, so I think everyone should pay a percentage of what he actually has earned during the year.


Do you think the UNO can really control the use of atomic bombs?

Certainly, if it is made strong by the nations who join.


Do you believe the Ruhr should be internationalized?

I do not think at present that my opinion is of any value, as I have made no very intensive study of the question, but my feeling is that this part of Europe has been a bone of contention for a great many years and its internationalization would be a benefit to the whole of the European area and remove future causes of contention.


Have you a favorite period in furniture and interior decorating?

Yes. Early American.


Would you say the current campaign—magazine and merchandising mainly—to publicize the life and times of a teen-ager is giving the adolescent an overdose of spotlight?

Yes. I think much less attention should be paid by the advertising field to this age.


Do you think the invention of the atomic bomb has advanced or retarded civilization?

I think it advanced civilization in that it saved for us a great many young lives of a great many different nationalities which might otherwise have been lost in this period and therefore would have retarded the development of civilization. Whether in the future it is an aid to civilization depends on the scientists and our younger generation. Both groups know its potentialities for destruction.


Do you feel, generally speaking, that it is better for a girl to marry before she is twenty-five, and that compromise and adjustment become progressively harder as she matures as a singleton?

Yes. I think for a woman it is much easier to adjust if she marries between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, and probably easier to begin to have children and adjust to a family life that includes old and young.


It has been estimated that 15,000,000 women will be earning their living by 1950. In your opinion, should industry and the community encourage and underwrite nursery schools for the children of working mothers?

Very decidedly. I think it is absolutely vital for the good of future generations that nursery schools be made available to care for the children of working mothers during the entire day. The next generation will seriously suffer from both the physical and mental standpoints if this is not done.


Do you think that if a Republican President is elected in 1948, the world will lose faith in U.S. leadership?

That depends upon the President.


My mother and I disagree sharply in our judgment of people. How important, under the circumstances, should it be to have my mother approve of the man I marry?

This is a very difficult question, as it involves the feeling that you have for your mother. If it is very close, and if you are devoted to her, I think you will find that you will be able to interpret the man you marry to her and change her point of view. It is always well to weigh the opinion of older people, because they have had more experience than you possibly can have. However, you are the one who is going to marry the man and live with him, and so ultimately it will have to be your decision. I would not hurry, however, and I would make every possible effort to bring about unity in the family, since the break between the home of the past and the one you hope to make is always a sad and upsetting experience.


Those who argue for "planned parenthood" point out that the size of the family should be limited for the sake of health and economics. Don't you think it is important, too, to limit the family so that there is enough of a mother's attention and affection to go around generously?

I do, but that is one of the things that intelligent advocates of planned parenthood have stressed, and it is part of all better health conditions, since many women have not the strength to give to the older children when they have too short periods of recuperation. This is not always true, however, since we have all known women who could have a child every year and still give generously of heart and mind to all of them; but a woman's health must be the guide.


What do you think is the secret of Sweden's neutrality throughout two world wars? Is it mere geographical location or perhaps a real determination to think and act "peacefully"?

I think Sweden has been extremely fortunate. Germany in time would probably have invaded her, but they needed what she could produce and send to them more than they needed her as an enemy or a conquered nation. I doubt if it is mere geographical location, or even a desire and a determination to think and act peacefully. I think it is just the economics of a situation and the military developments which made it possible for her to remain neutral.


Do you favor a uniform divorce law for the United States?



If the Government could use money for research in wartime, why doesn't it set up peacetime research projects on cancer and other diseases?

I think that is one of the things which the U.S. Public Health Service has been asking to inaugurate for many years. Probably now the people as a whole, through their representatives, will be willing to accept the responsibility for this kind of work. In the past they haven't been willing to vote the money for such purposes, but have counted on private resources and foundations.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1946

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 63, April 1946

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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