How often have you thought—or heard someone say—“Our little girls are growing up too fast!”
We tend to think of it as a modern-day problem, but in 1897 mothers were coping with the very same concern. Isabella received so many letters on the topic, she dedicated one of her advice columns to “anxious mothers of daughters.”
Here’s what Isabella wrote:
I have a package of letters from anxious mothers. I hold them tenderly, for there are heart-throbs in every line. I study and pray over them and wish—Oh, so earnestly!—that I knew how to help. Instead, I have resolved to tell our girls what some mothers fear: That their daughters—their young, sweet daughters, whom they would guard with jealous care from every form of the world’s contamination—are having the bloom of their beautiful girlhood brushed away by too early friendships with young men, or, as they frankly put it, with “the boys.”
One mother writes that her fourteen-year-old daughter’s mind is in danger of being taken up with the thought of “beaux.” She lives in the country, and associates almost of necessity with those who talk much about “beaux” and about “keeping company” with this or that boy. Not only this, but she has for associates those who believe in “kissing games” and all such practices.
What can you do?
Ah, dear, I don’t know. Except this—the same thing that I have said before, only I want to say it more emphatically, if I can:
Will you not use every inch of influence you possess to help anxious mothers, and to protect young and oftentimes motherless girls from the sort of harm that comes from playing with ideas that should be held sacred?
Sometimes uncultured guests do harm in this way:
A merry-faced couple—girl and boy aged perhaps ten and twelve—were hurrying down the street side by side, swinging their book-bags and chatting and laughing.
“Hasn’t Alice come yet?” asked the mother in a home.
“Here she comes,” said a guest who was in the doorway. “Here she comes with her little beau. Dear me, Alice, why didn’t you kiss each other? When I was of your age, and had little beaux come home with me, I always kissed them good-by.”
The mother came forward swiftly, a spot of red glowing on each cheek. “Alice does not know even the meaning of the word beau,” she said, “and she keeps her kisses for her father and brothers.”
Oh, the infinite harm that coarse and careless tongues can do to these young buds before their time of blossoming! Remember how much influence older sisters have in these directions. Nor is their influence confined to the young people of their own homes, if they are wise-hearted Christian workers.