The proliferation of advice literature about the new “emotional” family offers evidence of their commitment to this project.By the mid-1930s, 80 percent of women in professional families and nearly 70 percent of women in managerial families read at least one book on child rearing every year. Fathers, too, began buying these books and attending events like teacher conferences. They sent their children to school longer and allowed them a great deal more leisure than they themselves had enjoyed.Ironically, the more they gave their children, the less influence they exerted over them. As young people started spending less time with their families and more time with one another, they created their own culture.Petting was part of it, and helped prepare kids for a world that was changing faster than their parents could keep up with. By the 1920s, more than three-quarters of American teens attended.Before hooking up, there was “petting,” and everyone was doing it.In the 1940s and ’50s, Alfred Kinsey defined petting as “deliberately touching body parts above or below the waist” (thus distinguishing it from “necking,” or general body contact sustained while making out).
” She went on to say, “They’d been dating for like six months, but she said she didn’t want a boyfriend right now. Eleven and trying to figure out the dynamics of a months-long exclusive relationship and using words like “dating” to describe them. The middle school years are a time of major transition for kids as nature forces them along the path toward adulthood.
A study on child welfare commissioned by the White House in the early 1930s found that outside school activities, the average urban teen spent four nights per week engaging in unsupervised recreation with his or her friends.
Their activities included dating—going to watch vaudeville shows or movies, going for ice cream or Coca-Colas (“coking”), going to dances organized by schools or thrown, impromptu, in a classmate’s basement, and simply piling into a car together and cruising around.
In the relatively sheltered atmosphere that the school provided, students were willing to take the kinds of risks that only Charity Girls had ventured in dive bars or on boardwalks.
When students left for college, they moved into the world of peers and immersed themselves in their rituals full-time.
Take, for instance, fifteen-year-old Helen, who had made plans for a friend of a friend to pick her up at school one afternoon and give her a ride in his new automobile.