My daughter of seventeen has learned to dance from her schoolmates and is making both herself and me very unhappy because I cannot feel it is right to permit her to attend dances. She has always been a good, obedient girl in everything else, but now says that if she "can't do as other nice girls she knows are allowed to do, she will leave home when she is eighteen and earn her own living and do as she pleases." I have prayed over this, and reasoned with her, but she will not give up, and says she will dance. I would be so glad if the editor or other mothers who have had the same experience would advise me what to do.--A Troubled Mother
Dear Troubled Mother:
The editor may not be the proper person to make any suggestions in this matter, as I must admit to sympathizing with all young people who wish to enjoy youthful pleasures while they may. Personally, if a young girl has been properly taught and is safe-guarded as she should be by her parents when she goes out, I can see no more harm in dancing than in skating, walking or riding with a young man.
To this day I very much enjoy watching a dance, and, so far as my observation has gone, at no other gathering is there so much real courtesy, and pleasing manners shown as at a dance. But I have never looked on at a public dance, neither would I allow my daughters to attend one.
Were parents in country neighborhoods as careful of their daughters as really well-bred people should be, there could be no possible harm in their dancing. But it is customary in most rural communities for young girls to go out evenings unaccompanied by any member of their families. Girls should be not allowed to go out with young men who are not personally known to their parents. And a girl so young as seventeen years should be accompanied to and from places of evening amusement by some member of her family. Attended thus there could be no harm in a girl's going to a dancing party, to which invitations were issued only to the young people in the neighborhood known to be of irreproachable character. And if a girl has received proper home training and teaching from her parents she will not want, in fact cannot be induced to attend a party of any other character. Such a dancing party is much more respectable and productive of less harm than many church sociables, which are "free-for-all," where anyone who pays the price is admitted and allowed to mingle with the young people in games that are often "kissing games," and highly improper.
Young people must have amusement and if parents exercise a little thought in providing them with pleasing recreations, properly conducted, with companions of known good character, all will be well. But, alas! too many parents seem to have forgotten the desires and pleasures of youth, and either seek to keep their children entirely at home, or leave them free to go where and with whosoever they will, to save themselves the trouble of getting ready to go out, or because it is customary in their neighborhood.