—at his mother and me, at his sister, and at the world. Believe me, we have done nothing to provoke this anger, and I don’t understand what has caused it.
DR. DOBSON: At least part of the answer to that question can be explained by the “in-between” stages of teenagers. They live in an era when they enjoy neither the privileges of adulthood nor the advantages of childhood.
Consider the plight of the average 15-year-old. All of the highly advertised adult privileges and vices are forbidden to him because he is “too young.” He can’t drive or marry or enlist or drink or smoke or work or leave home. And his sexual desires are denied gratification at a time when they scream for release.
The only thing he is permitted to do, it seems, is stay in school and read his dreary textbooks. This is an overstatement, of course, but it is expressed from the viewpoint of the young man or woman who feels disenfranchised and insulted by society. Much of the anger of today’s youth is generated by their perception of this injustice.
There is another side to this issue of adolescent volatility. I’m now convinced that the hormonal changes occurring in a developing body may be more important to feelings than we thought earlier. Just as a woman’s emotions are set on edge by premenstrual tension, menopause and extreme fatigue, it is entirely possible that the adolescent experience is largely hormonal as well.
How else can we explain the universality of emotional instability during these years? Having watched thousands of children sail from childhood to early adolescence, it still amazes me to witness textbook characteristics suddenly appearing on schedule as though responding to a pre-programmed computer.
QUESTION: What answer do you have for those who say being a mother and a housewife is boring and monotonous?
DR. DOBSON: They are right—but we should recognize that every other occupation is boring, too. How exciting is the work of a telephone operator who plugs and unplugs switchboard connections all day long? Or a medical pathologist who examines microscope slides and bacterial cultures from morning to night? Or a dentist who spends his or her lifetime drilling and filling? Or an attorney who reads dusty books in secluded libraries? Or an author who writes page after page?
Few of us enjoy heart-thumping excitement each moment of our professional lives. On a trip to Washington, D.C., my hotel was located next to the room of a famous cellist who was in the city to give a classical concert that evening. I could hear him through the walls as he practiced hour after hour.
He did not play beautiful symphonic renditions; he repeated scales and runs and exercises over and over and over. The practice began early in the morning (believe me!) and continued until the time of his concert. As he strolled on the stage that evening, I’m sure many individuals in the audience thought to themselves, “What a glamorous life,” Some glamour.
I happen to know that he spent the entire day in his lonely room in the company of his cello. Musical instruments, as you know, are terrible conversationalists.
No, I doubt if the job of a housewife and mother is much more boring than most other jobs, particularly if the woman refuses to be isolated from adult contact. But as far as the importance of the assignment is concerned, no job can compete with the responsibility of shaping and moulding a new human being.
May I remind mothers of one more important consideration: you will not always be saddled with the responsibility you now hold. Your children will be with you for a few brief years and the obligations you now shoulder will be nothing more than dim memories.
Enjoy every moment of these days—even the difficult time—and indulge yourself in the satisfaction of having done an essential job right!