Why European Children Are So Much Quieter Than Yours

The playgrounds weren’t just beautiful. They were quiet. That was what struck me when I first moved to Vienna, Austria. Children there played and laughed, but rarely yelled across the park. Naturally, we Americans stood out. It wasn’t just my young daughter yelling, “Hey Mom, look at me!” from atop the climbing gym. I was … Continued

Culture, Parenting

If We’re All So Connected, Why are Our Kids so Lonely?

Heading out on an overnight school trip, my daughter spent 90 minutes each way on the bus with her classmates. Before the trip, the school laid out the electronic use policy—students would be allowed to use iPhones and iPads on the drive to and from their retreat but not during their stay. A few parents … Continued

Culture

The Magic of Believing in Santa Claus

I was raised Catholic and educated by Quakers, but as a child, my real devotion was to the Church of Santa Claus. At home, my Catholicism was mostly cultural, the kind of legacy birthright that came standard-issue for South Jersey kids in the 1980s. We went to church on Christmas and Easter and, occasionally, during … Continued

Books

What Happens When Homes Have No Books

Carol Rasco, President of Reading is Fundamental, recently asked, “Can you imagine a childhood without books?” Rasco’s piece noted that two-thirds of the country’s poorest children don’t own a single book. These children are little different than the character Francie, the poor girl living in the Williamsburg slums of New York in 1912, who has … Continued

Books, Culture

Why Kids Today Can’t Grow Up

This summer, a museum in Washington, D.C. unveiled a new interactive art installation called “The Beach.” Comprised of two massive, white-washed swimming pools filled with white plastic balls and surrounded by beach chairs, one doesn’t just look at “The Beach,” one is encouraged to jump in and play. That’s right, it’s a ball pit for … Continued

Culture, Parenting

The Age of Judy Blume is Over

A Maryland mom of four recently got a phone call from her husband at the library. He wanted to know if Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was OK to check out for their third grade daughter. He felt like there was something about this book that he should be remembering. The girl’s mom … Continued

Books

Is it Time to Retire Santa?

I remember the moment my childhood best friend told me over the telephone that Santa wasn’t real. “Are you sure?” I recall asking as I gripped the mouthpiece more closely and looked around to make sure no one in my family was privy to the conversation. “Yes, my sister told me. Santa is not real.” … Continued

Culture

Long Live the Santa Claus Legend

During childhood road trips my mother would tell me that her father told her that the “Falling Rock” signs on the side of the road were placed by a Native American man who had lost his son of that name.  I was encouraged to keep an eye out that I might be the one to … Continued

Culture, Parenting

The Death of Adulthood Means the Death of Culture

Recently A.O. Scott posted a piece in The New York Times entitled “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture,” which stirred up online discussion about whether our grownup culture has shifted into a protracted childhood. What was largely absent from the observations is where this arrested development is taking us. Scott argued that in doing … Continued

Culture

“Boyhood” and the End of Manhood

I have heard the sound of a civilization collapsing. It occurred at the end of the newly released, highly worshipped film Boyhood. It happened when the film ended and the lights came up, and a few people in the theater actually applauded. They may have been the only ones left awake. To say that Boyhood … Continued

Entertainment, Movies