Anyone watching a packed-Melbourne audience swabbing eyes and blowing noses after listening to Melba's incomparable "Home, Sweet Home," would be convinced that here was a people with "a veritable passion for its am fireside (says the Melbourne Age). As a matter of unsentimental fact, it''would' be difficult to find a nation less bound by home ties than is the Australian, or one which holds the bonds of family life in such casual regard. Young; Australia, both male and female, looks upon home as a sort of boarding-house, with the advantage that free and pointed criticism of food and accommodation is endured by mother with a meekness which has no counterpart in the" predatory landlady. Our young men and maidens find their real homes in the streets, on the beaches, in the theatres, and above all at "the pictures." To these joys they look forward during their working hours, and from them they reluctantly tear themselves, returning to the parental roof at whatever hour they please, to ally their forces by a minimum of sleep for the next day's rounds. Family life in the present day is as rare. as. Grecian profile, and brothers and sisters live as more or less peaceable fellow boarders, formings their several interests /and going, their different ways, with the amazing precocity of the race and choking off unwelcome . curiosity with the eminently, just rejoinder, "You'mind your own business, and I'll mind mine."
/Woman, the immortal scapegoat, once more answers for her brothers' sins as well as her own. The wageearning girl, we are told, is the naughty little minx who causes all the trouble. She ; will a'wooing go, whether her mother will let her or no, and tempts to his* undoing dear Jack and Tom, who would,':otherwise have stayed at home with his mamma.. Personally/ we are strongly of the opinion that whereas formerly Jill got over the back fence to meet Jack, she now simply marches out' by the front- door. Jack never stayed at home with his mamma, nor did she ever dream of to do so. Only one hypothesis remains-— that he went out by himself, while Jill hemmed sheets, or went meekly to bed, which, as Euclid says, is absurd. Be.that,as it may, the girl (not to mention the child) of trie present day has very little respect for parental authority. The mother who knows that her daughter, aged 16 or 17, is not home in the evening;, and has no further knowledge of her whereabouts* exclaims helplessly, "What can 1 do ? The girl earns her own money and expects to have the spending of it, and she pays no attention to anything I say.- If I ask her where she is going she tells me that if she cannot do as other girls do she will go and board somewhere else." The most irate of parents lias no threats which can alarm the independent young thing who catches. the 8.35 to her office every morning with her latch key in her bag, and lands serenely up at the pay office on Friday. The girl's point of view is that she pays her way, just as her brother does^ and no one questions his comings antP goings, though he is out every night in the week. Why may not- she be'as free? A place upon a dull and chilly pinnacle has no charm for her. She has money in her purse, and an inquiring mind; she must get down into the arena, see all, hear all, know all. The trouble is that to the young knowledge nearly always means the kind of thing they would be better without. The ardent flapper who considers that she "knows a thing or two" is not by any means referring to her intimate acquaintance with French irregular verbs. What she -fs really proud, of is the lore that her grandmother would have blushed fo~ possess. Those who are too lazy or too cowardly to look facts in the face take refuge in optimistic platitudes. "Wo are in. a transition stage," they tell us;. "Our grandmothers were really too strict, and if our mothers are a little lax, it is only a natural reaction. Things will right themselves." Coldly inquiring minds view with scepticism the hopeful suggestion that two wrongs are to produce perfection. Transition does not, as the optimist likes to believe, necessarily imply progress, and the practical man or woman prefers to pin a fighting faith to the result of putting a capable shoulder to. the wheel, and giving the van of human Endeavour a shove in the right direction. ■,-■.. .Our girls have no desire to climb to - that vacant and unpopular pedestalWhence-, their, grandmothers' tears dripped, forlornly, and our boys would see theni further before they would take up adoring attitudes about its base. The , question remains, -' What can we do to save the situation for future generations? To present immature youngsters with the freedom of the streets, and trust to their native modesty, honesty, and common sense, is to find ourselves, confronted with trouble of a much more serious kind later on, as experience has abundantly proved. Fortunately, not even the most enterprising of our young men or maidens is born sucking a latchkey. There are a number of tolerably dependent years during which the influence of a sane 1 and healthy home life should go far towards forming habits of self-respect and self-control. Later, if you must join the worldly battle in the arena, it is for those who are older and wiser to see that it is at least ably generalled. If our girls and boys in search of knowledge and amusement are determined to betake themselves night after night to picture shows and theatres, we should at least make sure that they are offered what will do them no harm.
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FAMILY LIFE, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919
FAMILY LIFE Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919
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