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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Annie Mack Barbee, May 28, 1979. Interview H-0190. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Child-rearing philosophies

Barbee did not marry until she was in her early forties, and she had her daughter Louise at forty-three. She reflects on what it was like to have a child later in life and paraphrases her basic child-rearing philosophies, including how she had dealt with a recent crisis in Louise's life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Annie Mack Barbee, May 28, 1979. Interview H-0190. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BEVERLY JONES:
How many children did you have?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
One, Louise.
BEVERLY JONES:
Okay, her name is Louise?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
Barbee.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Louise Valveeta Barbee. Just put Louise V. Barbee. I never could pronounce that. He named her. I never could pronounce that.
BEVERLY JONES:
Okay, what is your philosophy on rearing your daughter, since you only had one child. What is your philosophy about rearing children in reference to your daughter Louise?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Well, in my opinion, if you're going to have children, don't have 'em too late in life.
BEVERLY JONES:
So how old were you when you had Louise?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Forty-three.
BEVERLY JONES:
Well you married late.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
That's what I'm telling you now.
BEVERLY JONES:
Okay, he was your first husband.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
First husband. See I married in '53. Louise was born in '56. That's on her birth certificate. It's around here, she didn't take it with her, that's on her birth certificate. So I married late in life. But if you're going to have children, that's my philosophy—have 'em early. Not too early, 'cause maybe there are some things you want to do before you start a family. But don't wait too late. Because if you have children, you have more patience. Now having children late in life don't take the love away. I think you love 'em just as well if you have 'em early. But there's a kind of conflict between you and the child. You know, you're old, up in age—not too old, but old. And the child will say, momma, such and such a thing. She won't see it like I do. But when you're kind of young you can kind of relate to the child, you see. 'Cause you're kind of young and the children are young, so there's another meaning in there between you and the child. And so, I was fortunate to be near Polly in her early childhood. So she was a second mother, see what I mean. She could relate to her. And part your own—well, in other words, Polly'd take her children like her sisters and brothers. Her first early childhood baby like, she was up to her house because I had to work. So she was just a second momma, see. I didn't spend too much time with her, only at night 'cause I was working. Polly would keep her in the day while I worked. So I've gotten along well with her. One thing, I try to see with a open mind. And I do understand a lot. The children are different now—we have such a hard time. Now one thing I didn't do—I didn't try to bring her up like our daughter. I didn't want to.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why not?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
I wanted her to go but come back. I didn't put that so nough strictness on her, you know. She wouldn't take it, she wouldn't accept it had I gone along with it. The way I was raised that wouldn't have worked at all. I know she wanted to go and I wanted her to go. She wanted to be like others. And I remember a incident. These children were going to DTI (Durham Technical Institute) to a [Interruption]
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
You got to know where to draw the line between permissiveness and, you know, permission, with children. You got to know where to draw the line. That's hard sometimes. You let 'em go and do too much, then you try to hold 'em back. Now that is hard. Don't you let nobody fool you. And then you want to let 'em hang out on their own and then you interfere and they rebel. That's another hard thing. They rebel. "Oh mommy, I know what I'm doing." I said, now what can you do. And the thing—in other words, they rebel against you and you drive 'em in the very thing you don't want 'em to get in. And it's hard, and you don't mean to be hard on 'em, in those ways. But, you draw the line, you draw it too tight or you slack it up, and here you go.
BEVERLY JONES:
The same situation develops.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Same thing develops. It's no different. You let 'em go too much. Then you keep 'em home too much. And then you say, I got a lady called me last night sometime. She said to me, Mrs. Barbee, where did I go wrong at. And see I know, because Louise and her children grew up together partly. She said, I let 'em go and I give 'em permission. She's a much younger woman than I am. She said, I let 'em go, and they don't respect me one bit. And I said, one thing Mrs. Brown, children grow up over night. Did I say Mrs. Brown? I didn't mean to call her her name. [laughter]
BEVERLY JONES:
Well I don't think anybody would know it.
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Well anyway, I said children grow up over night. And when you do your very best—I said, and it's another thing being parents. I said, don't think of blaming yourself too much, it's the age that we're living in. They hold 'em too tight. That's dangerous, that's a whole lot worse I think. When you hold—they haven't been out there to find out what it's all about. They are not equipped to meet it, you know. You're just holding 'em. Then when you let 'em go, and they're heading into danger and you know it. You know it, you see the danger. Then you tell 'em about it and try to hold 'em back and they rebel. I don't think they mean to do it—they rebel against you. You're their target. They rebel against you, and it make me sick, I can't go, I can't do this and I can't do that—let me live my life. Well you don't want surrender. You keep on bumping at that thing and harping at you. You won't surrender. You talk and talk and talk. So finally you do surrender. But when you surrender, don't give yourself the credit. They've seen where they were wrong, but they ain't going to give you no credit for that. 'Cause a incident happened to me. Louise left, and I begged and I cried. Going down there to Fayetteville to see a vet—she met a guy. I liked the guy, I did. Really frankly speaking, I ain't going to tell no lie, I really liked him. But, he was married. He wasn't living with his wife. And I saw danger there. She'd go down there every weekend. And I cried. I wrote the vet some letters and all. And I cried and I cried. And I would tell her not to go. And after the boy finally, he said, Louise what's the big rush. I'd answer the phone and he'd get out about coming down there. So you know what happened in that case. The last time she went down there he broke it off his self. I just gave it up. He told Louise, he said, "Louise some day you're going to thank me for this." So I told her, I said he was a gentleman. I said, if you all never see each other again, I'll always remember him. His name was Marshall MacMillan. She said, "Why do you say that?" I said because of the fact that at the rate you were going, he could a used you. And he was too much of a gentleman to use you. And I said, I'll always thank him for it. He could a used her, just used her, because he saw where she was heading. But he just broke it off. He came in here and Louise got hot to sit right there. And I talked to him. I said, she's rather young and she hasn't been out there, she don't know nothing. And I don't want her to get hurt. I said, I understand you and your wife separated. I said, that's a personal thing. I said, but you all are going to different places and I don't know the type of life you had. [interruption]
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
Came here one Friday evening, I'll never forget it. Just crying, oh boy, was she crying. I got sick as a dog. She was just crying and crying. She said, "Momma, I wish I had listened at you." I said, lord. She said, "What." I didn't question, he broke it off. And she cried and she cried. So I said to Vets, I said, you know I was thinking about that thing. I said Marshall could've used Louise, but he didn't do it, he was too much of a gentleman. He could've had her running down there every five minutes. The way she was going, he could get out about going. But you see, I don't know what happened between them. But she came and told me she wished she had a listened at me. But I don't know whether that was it or not. She just seen the thing, the situation, for herself. I'd been crying, and oh lord, I worried so. I don't know whether me interfering in her life like that had an impact on her emotional life. But I just couldn't sit here and keep my mouth shut. I couldn't do it. No mother does. I didn't fuss for her. Just, "got anything to tell me before I go." I'd be laying right here on the bed, she was getting ready to go. I said, no. She said, "Are you sure?" I said, yeah. Crying up a mess. Oh god, just crying. Not crying that the boy was going to hurt her—he was too much of a gentleman. I was crying because a situation may have developed. See he separated from his wife somebody get hurt. That's what I was crying for. 'Cause I had already talked with him about it. I said, I don't want her to get hurt. I said, I don't know your wife. He was in the hospital and he called and told her when he was in the hospital and all that. Now I don't know whether she blamed me for that or not. I don't know. But if she blames me for anything I've said in her life, that's allright, I'm not worried about it. Because I knew if that had kept up, something was going to develop.
BEVERLY JONES:
Now what is your daughter doing now?
ANNIE MACK BARBEE:
She's in D.C. getting a job. She's supposed to be interviewed for a job today.