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A LETTER TO A DAUGHTER

BY: ARTHUR GORDON

Dear Kit,

Your letter arrived this morning, and I wasn’t too surprised by it. Ever since you went back to boarding school
I’ve had the feeling that you might tell your mother and me that you and Bob want to be married this summer,
after graduation. And now you’ve said it.

You ask how I feel about it. Well, not as instantly and automatically negative as you probably expect. I’m pleased
that you want my approval, or at least my opinion. Let’s take a long cool look at the pluses and minuses of teen-
age marriages.

The biggest plus is that marriage is the best solution to that most ancient and urgent of problems: sex. Nobody
should underestimate this, because sex without fear or guilt is about 10,000 times better than sex that is hung up
on broken taboos and lacerated consciences. In our society marriage tends to be postponed, for economic or
educational reasons, far beyond the time when it makes good biological sense.

A second great advantage in young marriages is flexibility. Your personalities are lithe. You and Bob can adapt to
each other, to new environments, new problems. Your ideas aren’t fixed, your attitudes aren’t rigid. Also, you
have optimism that assumes things are going to work out, or that even if they don’t, errors can be corrected,
losses regained. This kind of exuberance often disappears as people grow up.

Another cheerful fact is that when you marry young, you are more likely to develop similar tastes – in friends, in
entertainment, in political candidates. These similarities are the ball bearings in the mechanism of any marriage:
the more of them, the better. As one grows older and more fixed in his ways, it is harder to find people whose
tastes are similar. Another plus is that being young, you have tremendous physical energy, great vitality and good
health.

Finally, you have a superabundance of romantic love. Cynics are always pointing out that isn’t enough, in the
long run, to make a marriage go. Maybe they are right. But certainly nothing on earth is so exciting and
mysterious and rewarding as this first almost unbearable sweet desire to escape from the prison of self and
become part of another person. Whether the glow lasts or not, having it is something to be proud of and grateful
for always.

When young lovers look up at the full moon in the night sky they don’t stop to think that it has a dark side. But it
has. The presiding judge of a domestic-relations court in California listed five factors most likely to bring such
marriages crashing down: 1. Money troubles; 2. immaturity; 3. cultural gap; 4. interfering in-laws; 5. pre-marital
pregnancy.

Money troubles, the judge said, are the most frequent single cause of teen-age marriage failure. Often, teen-age
husbands are jobless; those who work earn so little; this leaves no margin for error; no money for fun, for illness,
or for a baby. Usually it means living with in-laws. It all adds up to trouble. Even if Bob gets a subsidy from his
parents, it will mean that he is not really the head of the household – he will still be dependent. He might try
borrowing from his Dad but debt is not a good springboard for marriage.
The second great hazard according to this judge is immaturity. This means self-centeredness, inability to
compromise or see other points of view, or to rise above hurt feelings or postpone immediate pleasures in favor
of future benefits, or to do unpleasant chores when they need to be done instead of putting them off. Trying to
be mature is of course a lifetime job. “Love” someone said, “is the accurate estimate and fulfillment of
another’s needs.”

The judge mentioned the “cultural gap” in our socially stratified society as another hazard. This means
differences in food, in speech, in pastimes, in grooming, in dress, in the kind of people you are comfortable with.
When teens with such different cultural backgrounds marry, he said, it is usually because the biological attraction
is so strong that it blots all other considerations. He advises young people to try a 48-hour experiment: spend 24
hours in each other’s homes with no love-making at all. If boy and girl remain pleased with each other’s family
and way of life, and if without any physical contact they are not bored with each other, then, there is hope for
the future.

The fourth deadly factor is interfering in-laws. Where young marriages are concerned, the judge said, in-laws
too, often become outlaws. They criticize, they meddle, they make demands. However, I don’t think your
parents are much like that, or Bob’s parents either.

All this discussion brings me to a question that you will not like, but that needs to be asked: Why don’t you wait a
while? Neither of you has had much exposure, romantically speaking, to other people. Neither of you has been in
love before. Neither of you knows what the great big supermarket of the world has to offer because, to put it
bluntly, you haven’t shopped around. A year from now, one of you might have a change of heart. In that interval,
somebody else might come along who would make an even better life partner. Such waiting period would be a
pretty solid test of the durability of your affection. Maybe you don’t owe any such test to your parents, but you
owe it to each other.

Whether you take this advice or reject it, you may be sure of one thing: nothing is going to change the way I feel
about you. People say that the generation gap is unbridgeable but I don’t believe it. Do you really think that
parents forget how lonely and vulnerable being a teenager can be, how desperately you need someone to lean on
sometimes?

I remember the stormy night you were born, almost 18 years ago. I was waiting by myself in the hospital room
assigned to your mother. The hospital was very quiet. Then I heard a baby’s cry – the delivery room was far down
the corridor, through two or three sets of doors. I should not have been able to hear anything at all. But I did
hear that one sharp, poignant, far-off sound. Something in me knew it was you. Later I found out from the doctor
that it was you.

I have always liked to think that no matter what happened or how many doors came between us, we would
always be able to hear from each other.

Love always,

DAD
Filipino Version
Mahal kong Kit,

Dumating kaninang umaga ang iyong liham. Hindi na ako nabigla ng akin itong makita. Batid ko na noon pang
nasa boarding school ka ay darating rin sa puntong ito, na kung saan sasabihin mo sa amin ng mama mo na ikaw at si
Bob ay magpapakasal, at ito nga nais nyo na ngang magpakasal sa darating na bakasyon pagkatapos nyung grumaduate.
Tinanong mo ako kung anong nararamdaman ko. Sa totoo lang hindi naman sa hindi ako sumasang-ayon katulad ng
iniisip mo. Sa katunayan nga ay nagpapasalamat parin ako kasi kahit papano hinihingi mo parin ang pahintulot ko.

Anak, pag-usapan natin ang mga bagay na mangayayari kapag ika'y magpapakasal ng maaga at kung ano ba ang
mga masama at mabuting dulot nito (pakinggan mo anak) Isa sa mga pinamagandang dulot ng maagang pag-aasawa ay
ang malayang pakikipagtalik sa taong minamahal, kasi ang pakikipagtalig ng walang takot ay mas maigi kesa sa
pakikipagtalik na puno ng duda at pangamba. Sabi nga nila mas masarap mahalin ang isang tao kapag nakatali na sya sa
iyo. Subalit sa ating lipunan ngayon ang maagang pag-aasawa ay hindi talga pinahihintulutan dahil sa pang-edukasyong
rason. Hindi katulad noong unang panahon na ito ay isinasagawa upang magparami. Ito pa anak kapag kayo ni Bob ay
maagang naging mag-asawa ay mag-iiba ng tuluyan ang inyong mga mundo. Na kung saan kayo ay magkakaroon ng
bagong kapaligiran at mga problemang darating na susubukin kayo. At ang inyong kaisipan ay malilito dahil ang inyung
pag-iisip ay hindi pa lubusang makakaunawa dahil sa inyong murang edad. Lalo't ang inyung pananaw sa mga bagay-
bagay ay puro kagandahan lamang. At ang buhay ay puro kasiyahan lamang. At sa huli malalaman nyu nalang na hindi
pala ito totoo na ipapamukha sa inyu ng realidad na hindi iyon hindi makatotohan.

Anak, kapag ika'y maagang nag-asawa meron kang pagnanais sa pagkakaroon ng kaparehong kaisipan,
kagustuhan, hilig at iba pang mga bagay-bagay na kung saan ito'y nagbibigay ng kasiyahan na nakabubuti naman sa
buhay mag-asawa. Kung baga anak mas maraming pagkakapareho mas nakakabuti sa inyung relasyon, subalit kapag ang
isa ay nagkaroon ng mas malawak na pag-iisip ay mahirap na itong hanapan ng pagkakapareho.Ika nga habang bata pa,
may magandang pangangatawan at bago pa ang mag asawa ay malakas, matibay pa ito. Kung saan ang pag-iibigan ay tila
wala ng hangganan. Subalit sa paglipas ng panahon ito ay nagbabago. Hindi na puro saya at ang sigalot ay pumapasok
na. At madalas ang mga sigalot na ito ay sinisira buhay mag-asawa.

Narito ang mga dahilan kung bakit nawawasak isang pamilya.

( isapuso mo anak) Una ay ang Pera, madalas ito ay pinag-aawayan ng mga batang mag-asawa sapagkat madalas
walang trabaho ang asawang lalaki. Kung saan nagiging rason ito ng pagkawala ng kasiyahan. Dahil sa namomroblema
sila sa pera para sa panggastos sa bahay, para sa anak at kahit para sa kasiyahan ng minamahal. Madalas ang mga ganito
ay naninirahan lang sa mga biyena kung saan tumatanggap lang sustento ang lalaki sa kanyang mga magulang. Kumbaga
sila'y nakadepende lang na hindi naman tama sa isang pamilya. Nakakaapekto rin ang pagiging isip bata dahil madalas
pinagmumulan ito ng gulo dahil sa pagiging makasarili hindi na natututo makinig at tumanggap ng pagkakamali, at ang
pang-unawa ay hindi naisasabuhay kaya dumarating sa punto ng paghihiwalay. Nakakapekto rin ang pagkakaiba ng
kultura sa batang mag-asawa, sapagkat nagkakaroon ng hindi pagkakapareha sa pananamit, hilig, at pamamaraan sa
pakikipagkapwa. At ito'y nagiging hadlang at harang para sa mas mabuting relasyon ng batang mag-asawa. Ang
pinagrabe sa lahat ay ang pangingingi-alam ng biyenan sa buhay ng batang mag-asawa na kung saan lagi itong
nangyayari. Na yung biyenan hinuhusgahan ang asawa ng kanilang anak batay sa itsura at pagkatao nito minsan panga
pati sa estado sa buhay. Siguro hindi naman ganito ang mga magulang mo, O ang magulang ng mapapangasawa mo.

Sa mga natalakay may nabuo sa aking isipan na kung maari ay maghintay ka muna. Kasi sa paglipas ng panahon,
siguro naman may posibilidad na magbabago pa ang nararamdam mo. Dahil minsan kahit gaano pa natin kamahal ang
tao sa ngayon sa paglipas bg panahon ay nawawala ito. Kung saan ang isa sa inyo ay nagbago ng nararamdaman. At kung
saan may mas darating pang higit sa kanya. Anak, ang paghihintay ay mas maiigi. Kaya kung tatanggapin mo man o hindi
mo tatanggapin itong payo ko sa iyo ay hindi magbabago ang pagmamahal ko sa iyo. Mahal na mahal kita anak. At lagi
mong tandaan na lagi akong naririto para sa iyo anak. Sinasabi ng mga tao na kaming mga magulang ay hindi naiitindihan
ang pinagdadaanan ng henererasyong kasalukuyan, pero sa totoo lang naiintindihan namin kayo kasi diyan rin kami
galing. Na kung saan naghahanap ng taong papahalagahan tayo at mamahalin. Naaala ko pa yung gabing maulan na
ipinanganak ka anak. Labing-walong taon na ang nakakalipas. Naghihintay ako nun sa kwarto na nakalaan para sa mama
mo. Sobrang tahimik ng hospital ng biglang may narinig akong iyak ng isang sanggol mga ilang pintuan rin ang pagitan ng
delivery room mula sa kwartong iyon. At bigla uling tumahimik at mga ilang saglit pa narinig ko naman ulit. At nalaman
ko nga mula sa doktor na ikaw nga yun. Parati kong naiisip na kahit ano man ang mangyari at gaano pa man kadaming
pinto o oppurtunidad ang darating sa buhay mo anak ay lagi parin nating maririnig ang bawat isa. Mahal na mahal kita
anak.

Nagmamahal ,
Papa
Arthur Gordon (1912-2002)
• Born in distinguished Savanna Family
in the USA
• Graduated in Yale University
• His first job is reading unsolicited
manuscript for Good Housekeeping
• An author and a magazine journalist
who wrote for Housekeeping, Ladies Home
Journal, Cosmopolitan and Guidepost
• He contributed 14 books

List of works
o A touch of wonder
o Through many windows
o Hugs for the heart
o Return to wonder
o A letter to a daughter
Characters
 Kit- Daughter
 Bob- the boyfriend
 Dad- the father/the sender of the letter
Setting
At home
Theme
- Teenage marriage and love of parents