Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Ten Rules for a Real Boy, 1941

Ten Rules for a Real Boy, 1941

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 10, 2009

One issue of The Children’s Friend of 1941 included these “Rules” printed on heavy cardstock for boys to cut out and post on their bedroom walls.

Are you a Real Boy?

Want to make any guesses as to what appears in the “Ten Rules for a Real Girl” that was published the next month?



  1. Oh, I’m afraid to guess. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — June 10, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  2. Oh, be brave, Tatiana! (Maybe I should offer a prize for guessing Rules that turn out to be on the list.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 8:20 am

  3. Kneel in prayer every night and morning has to be on the list.

    Comment by Justin — June 10, 2009 @ 8:46 am

  4. There might be a lot of overlap. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some form of 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 on the girl’s list.

    Comment by Mark Brown — June 10, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  5. Gosh, if boys weren’t supposed to talk in church, I can’t imagine how often girls were supposed to talk.

    Comment by BYU Women's Services — June 10, 2009 @ 9:25 am

  6. I’ll have to print this off and give it to my boys. I’m sure they will love it, like having to comb their hair before they sit at the table. Somehow I see that lead ballon going over. :-)

    Comment by Steve C. — June 10, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  7. I think I’ll print it off as well for my two older boys. If I remember, I’ll report back what they have to say about how to be a real boy.

    Comment by Researcher — June 10, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  8. I think my dad memorized these rules, even though he had been out of Primary for three years when they were published. Several of them were enforced quite vigorously in our home when I was a child.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 10, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  9. I’m a little surprised that the Bloggernacle Indignation Patrol hasn’t jumped all over this! Where’s the outrage over “Boys Who Know” and the complaints about imposition of cultural restrictions over natural self-expression?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 11:28 am

  10. That doesn’t sound very welcoming, actually, Ardis.

    I’m one of the people who felt quite chagrined over Sister Beck’s talk. i hope it’s okay for me to post here.

    My guesses for the “real girls” list:

    1) Wash your face, brush your hair, dress neatly, sit quietly, don’t get dirty and don’t make noise.

    2) Always be nice to boys around you. Thank them sweetly when they do things like hold doors open for you. Don’t turn them down if they ask to sit by you, dance with you, or for other personal access.

    3) Be chaste always, until you’re barely old enough to marry, then marry quickly before your looks go, to a returned missionary, in the temple.

    4) Be well-behaved, and what ever you do, don’t ever do anything that could possibly make history. =)

    There you go. Those are my guesses. I hope it’s not as bad as I fear. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — June 10, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  11. Tatiana, there’s no point in pretending that you don’t know how welcome you are here. You should know by now that you’re one of my favorite commenters anywhere in the Bloggernacle.

    It’s also hard to deny that some people have gone overboard in their criticism of both Sister Beck and Elder Callister for calling for a little more attention to the outward forms that reflect inner attitudes, the same formalities that appear in most of these rules for boys.

    I’m pleased to say that although some part of your guessed rules aren’t far off target, some of the worst of them are very far off!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  12. Well, Ardis, maybe commenters here realize that “natural” falls uncomfortably close to “enemy to God” in the scripture.

    The only thought that came to mind in response to Tatiana’s lovely comment is not likely to meet Ms. Censor’s high standards.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 10, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  13. Rules for Real Girls

    — Help your mother in the kitchen. One day this will be your primary occupation. Also, the surest way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach!

    Comment by FHL — June 10, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  14. You’re right that I guessed it was okay for me to post. Otherwise I wouldn’t have. But I’m every bit the committed feminist, and I’m sure you can find examples on the bloggernacle of me being quite critical of President Beck’s talk. So that’s why I expressed some doubt. Anyway, I’m always delighted to find evidence in history of more enlightened views about women than we see in some venues today.

    There’s a British novelist Michael Innes (real name J.I.M. Stewart) who has heroines in the 1930s era onward who are smart and intrepid. He also had one of his characters say “If you divide women into two types, then you’re already a cad, aren’t you?” I thought that was an awesome insight, and something not many people of that time, or even of our time, seem to realize.

    So not every single person in history thought of women as being less than whole people, which is encouraging. It’s just the overwhelming majority of them who did. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — June 10, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  15. So, what I find amazing is that nobody has mentioned “Pinocchio” (Walt Disney, 1940).

    I recall that a Family Home Evening Manual circa 1970 had a color print of Thumper (from “Bambi”) to go with a lesson about speaking kindly. It is interesting to find this quasi-endorsement of Disney films this early.

    Comment by Coffinberry — June 10, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  16. Oh, and in case the reference might be obscure:

    The Blue Fairy tells Pinocchio when she brings him to life in response to Gepetto’s wish: “Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy.”

    Comment by Coffinberry — June 10, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  17. I’m not sure I ever got the bit about removing hats. At the dinner table is fine, I guess… Maybe because it’s not a big thing in our culture (except ball caps) that I don’t know what the rules are about removing hats?

    Comment by queuno — June 10, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  18. queuno, hat etiquette doesn’t make logical sense, but it boils down to a man’s taking off his hat indicates respect: Off during the national anthem out of respect to the flag; off at church out of respect to God; off in homes and restaurants out of respect to the host (even if you’re a paying guest at a restaurant, the social fiction is that you’re still a guest); off in the elevator because the social fiction is that you’re all being introduced due to the forced intimacy of the small space; off when you meet a lady or an elderly person or anybody else to whom you want to show respect (just tip it, or touch the brim or bill if you meet in passing).

    Leave it on outdoors because it’s protection against the weather (except during the anthem), or in a store or business so impersonal that there’s no implied guest/host relationship.

    And of course, to keep things fun, the rules are entirely different for women …

    I know that hat etiquette and other “good manners” seem ridiculous, but a lot of people still notice and return respect when you practice them. That’s as true in 2009 as in 1941.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  19. queno, when hats were part of every gentleman’s attire, the rules were simple: remove your hat when going indoors. No exceptions. Wearing a hat indoors marked you as a boor.

    Ladies are under no similar obligation to remove their hats when entering a building.

    Comment by Bull Moose — June 10, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  20. Well, except that men didn’t take off their hats in train stations, or hotel lobbies, or department stores, or in office buildings until they got into their individual offices …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

  21. Good point, Ardis. If the “indoors” setting is more akin to a public street, commons, or marketplace, then it is acceptable to leave a hat on. Which makes sense, because there typically is no safe place to hang or leave a hat there, and carrying the hat could be burdensome given the fleeting, transient nature of the gentleman’s visit to those places.

    Every source I have read indicates that a hat may remain on in an elevator, but must be removed if a lady enters.

    Comment by Bull Moose — June 10, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  22. I just wish we had a real need to puzzle out the nuances, Bull Moose — if more men realized how good they look in a fedora, I wouldn’t mind whether the hat stayed on or came off in the elevator!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 10, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  23. Especially as one’s natural God-given head covering begins to thin (The Lord giveth; the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!), hats begin looking better and better.

    I say, let’s all start wearing hats again. (All us men, that is. Optional for women.)

    Comment by Mark B. — June 10, 2009 @ 7:10 pm


    Boy Scouts of America, 1943 edition:

    A Scout is:

    Clean and

    As we rattled these off to become a tenderfoot scout, we always put “and” between clean and reverent and emphasized the “reverent!” to remember it was the final law.

    The handbook has a wonderful little illustration for each law. The one for courteous shows the scout tipping his hat to a lady.

    The Church adopted the Boy Scout movement as the boys’ program in YMMIA in May 1913.

    Comment by Curt A. — June 10, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  25. I’d frame this one too.

    Comment by Tracy M — June 11, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

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