If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1946


Among my young, newly married friends there seems to be general agreement that women must do about 90 per cent of the adjusting in marriage. Do you think this is true? Do you think it is fair?

I do not know about the percentage. I do know that both parties to a successful marriage have to do a good deal of adjusting, and as women are usually more adaptable, I should not be surprised if they did the adjusting a little more gracefully and successfully than men. Anything is fair which brings you and your family success and happiness.


The school board in my town refuses to raise teachers' salaries. As a result, the best teachers have left. What can I do to see that my children receive the best possible education?

I think you should try to get as many parents as you can find in your town to realize that teachers are more important than anything except parents in the lives of children. If the majority comes to understand that, there will no longer be this stupid idea that money spent for good teachers is money wasted.


Is there anything we can do to convince other countries that not all Americans are money grabbers, strikers and growing isolationists?

Yes. There is a great deal we can do. We can devote ourselves to being good citizens in our communities and to creating public opinion which will make our own community a truly democratic one. If this is so, there will be less isolationism, fewer strikes and the money grabbers will not be very popular. Each one of us can do no more than his share in his own community, but that he must do, or the community will not be part of the whole structure which we hope will be a better world.


I am a veteran, European theater, married and have two children. When I went in the Army my company promised to keep my job. Now I'm back and two former assistants are my bosses. Do you think this is fair?

No, but I think if you use what you learned in the Army, you will soon find that you are jumping ahead of your former assistants. Work hard at it and I am sure you will soon get ahead.


Our pretty teen-age daughter wants as many clothes as her friends have. My husband feels that she asks for more than she needs. We can afford to buy them, but her father says one evening dress is enough for any girl. I want to know if he is right in denying her clothes that we can afford. Should I insist that he give them to her?

If your daughter is still of teen age, I should think the need for clothes could depend largely on what you allow her to do. If you allow her to go out a great deal in the evening, she will get tired of wearing one dress, even if you are clever about it and arrange it so that it can be made to look differently. But if you are rather careful and let her go out very little, which with teen-age girls would seem wise, then I think her father is right and one evening dress with different accessories is enough. It isn't a question of what one can afford these days. It is a question of what is the right and proper way to spend money. The rule to be followed, it seems to me, is whether one really needs things.


How much do you really pay for your hats? I read once that you have them made by Lilly Dache and I know she is terribly expensive.

When I did buy hats from Dache, she made a special price for me, because I cannot remember paying more than $15. When I was young, I occasionally bought very expensive hats, now I think the prices I pay vary between $12 and $25.


Why are you always so much on the side of the arrogant, sometimes communistic labor leaders rather than on the side of the millions of men thrown out of work for long periods by the acts of those leaders and their interunion quarrels?

I did not know that I was on the side of arrogant, communistic labor leaders. There are some labor leaders in whom I believe, and I do not consider them either arrogant or communistic. There are other labor leaders whom I dislike thoroughly, but for a variety of reasons. I am always on the side of men who are out of work, and particularly of their families, who have to stand a good deal of suffering under those conditions.


Do you plan to take part in the election campaigns this fall? Your opinion would influence a great many people.

I have made no plans because I thought I might have to serve in some capacity on the United Nations. If I can be of any help in the support of anything in which I believe in politics, I shall, of course, do whatever I can, wherever I can.


Why are we continuing to make atomic bombs? This hardly seems evidence of U.S. sincerity in the desire for permanent peace—especially when we simultaneously cut down on appropriations for European relief and increase the amount to be spent on development of atomic bombs.

I think we are not making atomic bombs at the present time. Until, however, an agreement has been made with the nations of the world, there is no security for any of us; and the sooner we come to this agreement, the better it will be for us and for the world.


Don't you think the fact that so many servicemen are seeking higher education shows that we need a better plan for educating our children, regardless of their financial standing?

Yes, I do, and I hope this will lead us to facing the fact that we do not give opportunity for higher education to as many young people as desire it and should have it. Naturally, young people who are not qualified to continue their education should not do so at the taxpayers' expense, but young people who are qualified and can profit from higher education are most certainly going to bring in returns to the country for whatever is spent in giving them these opportunities.


Are you ever guilty of that universal feminine habit of pulling your girdle down in public?

I haven't any idea.


The cost of living is going up all the time because the unions are getting higher wages. Yet already the unions are talking about asking higher wages because prices are going up. Don't you think the Government should stop them instead of giving in to them?

You have pointed out in your question that this is a vicious circle. You have to keep prices from going up before you can keep wages from going up. If you stabilize both, you will have a better situation.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1946

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

Ladies' Home Journal, volume 63, September 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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