One of the most perplexing questions a mother has to meet is how much liberty should be allowed to her daughter as she grows into young womanhood. The mother would do well to take this question in hand long before it becomes crucial. If during her child’s earlier life she has been present with her, associated in her pleasures, the girl will not later resent that presence as an interference. At the same time, every girl should be trained in that fine delicacy which shrinks at any approach of wrong, and which is her best protection.

No doubt, average mothers in America are far too lax; they allow the most unrestricted social relations between their daughters and young men, sometimes even when they have good reason to believe the latter are not so worthy as they might be. It is far better to have it understood that when a girl receives a man’s call her mother sits in an adjoining room with the door open between. This should not be at all considered as hinting at untrustworthiness on the part of the young people, but as that deference which all ought to pay to propriety. A girl so guarded is sure to rise in value in a true man’s eyes.

In what are known as the upper classes certain things are not “good form.”

A young girl who went out with a man, minus a chaperon, would be violating good form. It is quite possible to sniff at all such rules of polite society, but sift them down and they usually have a foundation in essential principles. So the average mother will best do her duty by her precious young charge if she guards her from too intimate association with men. She will not countenance long evening walks, or dual buggy rides. She will be gentle but firm, and some day her daughter will thank her.

When a young man declares his intentions, the situation changes somewhat; but every girl must be careful how she mistakes attentions for intentions. A wise woman, who was not at all soured, once said, “Never believe a man is in love with you until he asks you to marry him.”

Helen A. Hawley in The Mother’s Magazine, November 1907

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