"I don't worry about my little daughter facing life on he own! She's very much with everything. She's well equipped. I'll not worry about her, only the guy she goes out with. I won't be worried about his morality as much as I will be about how he drives a car!" Guy Williams is today's father speaking of tomorrow.
"When my little girl goes out the door on a date, I want her back alive and whole! Take the idiot game of "chicken"! Two cars head straight for each other. Or a bunch of kids are out for a thrill ride, and driver yells 'hang on!' and puts the gas pedal full down against the floor board! The trick is to steer clear at the split second to avoid, if lucky, a head-on! Either way, the winners and the losers are usually dead! 13,200 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 died in car accidents last year! Yet we must not tell our children, for fear of frightening them! This generation, they say, is frightened enough already!"
"There are over thirty million subteens (8 to 12) straining at the leash to become the new generation; to take over where the restless uninhibited current teens with their own special brand of morals, conventions, sounds, dress and hair styles rule today. The Junior Americans are in the shaping, influenced by the sights and sounds of today. Parental guidance in a constantly changing today is too often self-mockery. How to advise is one problem. Will they listen, is another. Healthy physically and unhealthy mentally, the physical drive alone compels them to reach out for interest! They call it kicks! What comes without reason is usually trouble!"
"Parents educate their children to make a living, and not to be educated. Strangely, we bear our children with expert prenatal care, use sterilized hospitals, give them medical checkups and educate them expensively, and then hand them the keys to a car with our hearts in our mouths to see if they come home alive!"
"Strict rules and good parental examples don't always work. Successful, righteous parents often overpower children. If a child grows up with a monstrous inferiority complex, it can leave him or her unmotivated. One who will not compete for fear of failure. Or they're afraid of responsibilities which might bring them reprimand. And they do nothing!"
Guy, with his swashbuckling heroics in TV's science fiction adventure series, "Lost in Space," is a typical young father, according to a preponderance of mail he receives from the subteens, as well as the teenagers themselves. Since Guy is father to Angela Cartwright, fourteen, and Billy Mumy, twelve, in the space world, he is far in advance of "today", and thereby sought for council by youth who are growing up "tomorrow".
"I'm actually a double father image," Guy said, leaving the space travel world to concentrate on the one he lives in today. "Besides my two television children, I have two of my own brand. Namely Steve, thirteen, and Toni, who I say is an eight-year-old teenager. Kids this age are wide open to impression and suggestion, if you don't just talk to them, but level with them. Anything more, or anything less, and their own independence for self-identity withdraws from adult confidence."
"Here's a letter I received from a fifteen-year-old girl today. She writes, 'I wouldn't dare tell my parents. You're hip with an open mind. I'm not scared of you and I have to tell somebody.' Being approachable is part of being hip with today's ethics, to understand her problem. Actually she wants reassurance, as do most children, who more often do what they will do anyways, regardless!"
" 'I am fifteen and I just had an abortion. I wish there was some way you could tell all of the teenage girls my age in the whole world, that when a girl goes in for romance with a boy, she is 100 per cent responsible for herself. And it isn't camp but down right on the level to keep her kisses for the boy she marries. It's stoop to pass out samples to the boy she steady dates. The doc says I can never get pregnant again. Is it right for me to marry someday and fool a boy, when I know I can't have babies now?' "
"If my own little girl should grow up and find herself in such a tragic situation, would she be afraid to tell me? Would she be afraid I would punish her in some way? This isn't the age of the old melodrama, when the father turns his fallen daughter out in the street with "Never darken my door again.' When such a thing happens, isn't it the parents who are to blame? Somewhere in raising that child, communication ceased. With it the parent shirked his or her responsibility. Personally, I am not as concerned with morals as I am with reckless drivers!"
"Until my little daughter goes out on dates, I am her sole male protector looking out for her from the day she was born, trying to anticipate and thwart any dangers that might beset her. She is very precious to me; I am not going to hand her over, for some reckless, careless boy, who wants to let off steam by driving his car hell-bent without thought of risking her life, to suit his mood."
"Everyday somewhere in the world, kids get into a car and someone puts on the speed for thrills. And the car goes out of control and the kids land up in a heap killed or maimed. It maybe doesn't matter if someone along for the fun, pleads, 'Don't drive so fast!' Some boys seem bent on self-destruction and extinction! Most young boys are not thinking ahead when they go out for fun. But a girl the same age is born with an intuition that gives her an adult outlook far ahead of a boy. Chemically she is set up rationally. She seems to know by instinct, whereas a boy has to grow up to be a man. He has to learn everything. A girl just seems to know. Perhaps, too, that is why they always think they know more than their mothers or their grandmothers, and usually peg the preceding generation as old, dated and out-moded. Some mothers are restricted by their own early environments and training. They are actually not qualified to guide and advise a daughter or they'll sow the same lies."
"The idea that sex is a taboo subject not to be discussed is for the birds. That alone creates a problem. If a child thinks something is the matter with it, they will take it into marriage and won't get the benefit of it. And another marriage will go to the divorce court. If twelve and fourteen is the biological age for sex awakening, a parent must consider that Nature doesn't know or care about man's laws, or complex city government. People are the victims or beneficiaries of natural laws. There is no specific age for sex a father can set for his daughter or his son. Maturity comes to different people with different games at different periods in their individual lives. If people would be natural and not attempt to steep sex with mystery, there would not be so much made about it. In a small town in Italy, we would go see a statue of David with a fig leaf. This would bring forth questions of why. In Rome, Michelangelo made David as nature made him without artificial adornment. And no one had any questions to ask."
"Honesty is a prime asset in every phase of living", this tall, handsome clean-cut young man with the hazel eyes, brown hair and winning smile, observed. "A lot of guys take a girl out and get the picture immediately. Here's a girl who has to be lied to. There's that old standard, to say 'I love you,' if that's all it takes. A girl with the right guidance and a close relationship and confidence of her parents, who are qualified in such departments, won't be fooled by that. Some are. Sometimes a guy really loves a girl, and the girl doesn't recognize the honesty and sincerity. A fellow has his objective and a girl has hers. Everything turns out eventually and accordingly."
"Times, customs, morals and principals sweep on in this constant change of viewpoint from one generation to the next. Basic values like honesty, integrity, decency and sincerity alone remain basic. One must be equipped to recognize the real from the pretended. It's like Marilyn Monroe eighteen years ago posed in the nude for a calendar, and shocked the world. Today girls vie to get photographed in the nude for Playboy magazine. I have no right to presume I can change everything for the benefit of my little girl. I can't say, 'Stop the world, I want my daughter to get off'. I can only use my head and do my best to understand, to stay hip, to discuss any and all things with her as she becomes aware and asks. And foremost, to keep confidence and communication open."
"Right now she is wondering how it would be to date a boy. To go out with a little boy without parental supervision. She went through the Beatles stage with records and pictures. And today she sees her brother having his first date. And she's all wonder and curiosity. Steve was visiting the set and met Angela, my daughter on TV. A little later he approached and asked, "Would it be all right if I ask Angela to go to a movie with me?" This was my thirteen-year-old son asking me, his father, about his first date! I asked, 'Who'll take you?' He has an allowance so there was no problem there. 'What show are you going to take her to see?' I asked. He mentioned "Sound of Music" which is playing at some distance from our house. 'How will you get her there?' I asked. He pointed at my wife with a confident smile. 'Mother,' he replied. His mother drove and left them at the theater, allowed the time afterwards for them to go across the street to a sweet shop for an ice cream, and arrived on schedule to drive them home. Steve is actually a year younger than Angela. I make no pronouncements about this. He likes 'older women' already. Actually he is taking a little girl to a movie in much the same spirit as being with his friends who are boys. When I was a kid, a bunch of us would go to the movies, usually four guys and four girls. We'd sit with whom we wanted to see the film. There was no o special emphasis made on it. We shared popcorn and had a lot of laughs. To us, a date with a girl meant taking a girl to a restaurant and ordering champagne. You had to be older to afford to do that."
"When I went to high school, kids didn't all have cars. Take a look at Hollywood High's parking lot and you see a couple of hundred cars driven by students. This is the real change of the times, real open sesame. And we have drive-in movies today!" Parents must take this progress in stride and reach a level of understanding for the pros and cons which demand guidance. The only thing I worry about is the car. It is not what she does in it, when the car stops. But when that car starts going, if a boy is a reckless driver, then there's danger, big danger! If she's kissed in the car or what not, I'm not as concerned as with her actual physical safety. I don't want her head bashed through a windshield in the helter-skelter go-go-go speeds of the road! That's the big problem. If a boy drives up in a souped up car with16 cylinders and all sorts of special eye-stopping gadgets and skid marks on his tires, I wouldn't let my daughter go out with him. This bespeaks a show-off immaturity, disregard for the other person, anyone and everyone else, but self!"
"I have driven 140 miles an hour in my Masarati which I bought in Italy. It is a marvelous car geared and built for speed. I'd fly in it from Salzburg to to Munich from Rome to Naples burning up the roads. But the roads there are for speed along with the car. I would never drive a car that way here. If a car has bad tires and isn't equipped, it means a certain invitation to death!"
Guy allowed that in theory, every parent has ideas of how to act and react. When faced with each individual case however, who knows, exactly? All any child or parent can do, he reiterated, is to keep communication between them open at all times. That is their best assurance. For society's demands change with the constantly changing times.
Story by May Mann for Movieland Magazine. 1967.