Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever | Circe Institute

Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever

Source: Why We Need Frog And Toad More Than Ever | Circe Institute

“Like many children’s books from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Frog and Toad stories involve the two titular characters overcoming common problems which arise from vice… In each story, the only way to beat vice is through some form of suffering. Good things do not happen in Frog and Toad stories apart from suffering, self-denial, or self-control…

“Conquering my own problems with stress and anxiety should begin with the acknowledgment that neither I nor my children are special. Special is a curse. Special is an illusion. Special is fake holy. There is nothing wrong with regular children such that mine need to be special. The pursuit of special is contempt for nature. We need to recover an understanding of the expression ‘most people,’ and we desperately need the humility to see ourselves referenced therein…

“Our problem with anxiety and stress will not end until we quit celebrating the faults of our children and teach them to fight those faults, instead. We must let our children fail when they deserve to do so—and sometimes even when they don’t deserve it. In the same way our Heavenly Father did not politick and argue His Son’s path to the top but subjected Him to the rules and allowed Him to suffer, we must also quit politicking and arguing for our children and not treat every kind of suffering as an injustice. If anyone was special, surely it was Jesus Christ, and yet He did not make Himself an exception.”

Another one to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults | Intellectual Takeout

What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults

Is it possible that in treating children like children – both in the way we dress them and the activities we allow them to pursue – we will better prepare them for a natural, responsible transition to adulthood some day in the future?

Source: What Princess Charlotte’s Portrait Teaches Us About Raising Adults | Intellectual Takeout

Annie Holmquist, Editor of Intellectual Takeout, often has good things to say, and this is no exception. This essay is a few years old, but that does not make it any less apropos. She notes a Spanish clothing designer – Spain being one country where traditional clothing for children is much more common than it is here in the US, or apparently in the UK – as commenting,

“The style is much more classic for children, with Peter Pan collar shirts, soft colours, floral prints. We keep the essence of timeless clothing for children and enjoy seeing our children look like children.”

(See also this earlier essay on the subject.)

The Anglophilic Anglican is a hopeless traditionalist – and darned proud of it! – so needless to say, I agree. But it may be more than merely an aesthetic preference. As Holmquist continues,

“I can’t help but wonder if the Royals have caught onto an idea that’s been completely overlooked by all of us commoners across the pond… after reading the ideas behind the Spanish approach to children’s dressing which the Royals follow, I had to ask myself if the American habit of dressing children as mini-mes has helped to fuel the rise of immature and incapable adults.”

Well worth a read!

“For a happy home…”

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, shoes and outdoor

Source: Holy Motherhood | Facebook

“For a happy home, teach obedience, orderliness (first things first), truthfulness, courtesy, punctuality, attentiveness, thoroughness, neatness, purity, industry, integrity, respect, gratefulness, and diligence.”

— Karen Andreola

My dear late mother – Ma – used to hang out the wash every Monday and Thursday that the weather allowed (it smelled so good, having dried in the sun!), and in the summer, I often helped her. She also taught me all of the above, though I confess I have not always lived up to these ideals as perfectly and completely as I might wish…

But I keep striving!


P.S. From the comments:

When women knew the power of being able to raise the next generation one home at a time, kids had a respect for God and his order, respect for others, and pride in doing the humble things that keep life in order. The world was kinder and cleaner, healthier and safer than now, when schools raise generations like kids are assembly line objects, with the idea that nothing matters except that everyone feels good all the time and no one judges.

I cannot disagree!

 

Harvard Study Reveals Religious Upbringing Better for Kids’ Health, Well-Being | The Stream

A Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing will likely be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood.

Source: Harvard Study Reveals Religious Upbringing Better for Kids’ Health, Well-Being | The Stream

While this is no surprise to me, or probably to most of those who read this blog, what is most saddening is that it probably does come as a surprise to many in the wider culture.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

— Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

 

Rev. Thomas Harbold’s review of “Defending Boyhood: How Building Forts, Reading Stories, Playing Ball, and Praying to God Can Change the World” | Goodreads

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When Anthony Esolen – among the most able defenders of Western civilization, and Western Christendom in particular, active today – chooses to discourse on a subject, the wise person reads or listens attentively…

Source: Rev. Thomas Harbold’s review of Defending Boyhood: How Building Forts, Reading Stories, Playing Ball, and Praying to God Can Change the World | Goodreads

When Anthony Esolen – among the most able defenders of Western civilization, and Western Christendom in particular, active today – chooses to discourse on a subject, the wise person reads or listens attentively, nor does he or she lack reward for having done so. Esolen writes with exuberance, penetrating insight, and equally-penetrating wit, and Defending Boyhood is no exception to that rule. I was alternately delighted, intrigued, inspired, and moved.

As a former boy myself, I resonate strongly with the former boy that shines through Esolen’s mature, erudite, and engaging writing, and frequently found myself nodding in emphatic agreement. His treatment of boyhood, and boys – what they value, how they view life, and the goals and ideals that are common to boys across time, geography, and culture – has the ring of truth, and stands as a much-needed antidote to the venomous miasma that much of modern culture seems bent on creating around such formerly straightforward concepts as manhood, masculinity, and boyhood…

Read my whole review here.

 

QOTD: the proper life for a child (and the rest of us, for that matter!)

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“It is no accident that the Swiss have such beautiful children’s stories: they do not inhabit large towns. A metropolitan child doesn’t even know what it means to be a child. To be a child means to play in the fields, amidst grass and trees and birds and butterflies, under the endless canopy of a blue sky, in a great silence in which the crowing of the neighbor’s cock is an event, as is the Angelus bell or the creaking of a wheel. To be a child means to live with the seasons, the first snow and the first colt’s-foot, the cherry blossom and the cherry harvest, the scent of flowering crops and dry grass, the tickling of the stubble on one’s bare feet, the early lighting of the lamp. The other thing is a surrogate, shabby, cramped, musty, an adult’s life in miniature.”

— Joseph Hofmiller (1872-1933)

 

Old-fashioned toys, not video games, best for kids, pediatricians say | WRCBtv.com – Chattanooga

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Don’t be fooled by all those “educational” electronics in stores. What’s best for your kids, pediatricians say, are old-fashioned toys that require you to actually interact with them.

Source: Old-fashioned toys, not video games, best for kids, pediatrician – WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

“Play is important for child development, but children learn best from adults. They get language skills, learn about how the world works, and get feedback that can reinforce learning and positive behavior, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in new guidelines for people buying toys for kids.”

The most amazing part of this is that, apparently, it comes as a surprise to some people!

The AAP cautions that

“a little common sense goes a long way, the AAP says in its reminders. Kids need to use their imaginations, they need to move both their hands and their bodies and they need to express creativity. Simple toys such as blocks, crayons and card games can fill these needs better than the flashiest video game”

And goes on to add,

“The truth is most tablets, computer games, and apps advertised as ‘educational’ aren’t. Most ‘educational’ apps target memory skills, such as ABCs and shapes,” the guidelines read.

“These skills are only one part of school readiness. The skills young children really need to learn for success in school (and life) include impulse control, managing emotions, and creative, flexible thinking. These are best learned through unstructured and social play with family and friends.”

So-called educational games and apps on digital media may, in fact, delay social development [emphasis added], especially for young children, because [such technology] interferes with their learning about real-life facial expressions and gestures.”

When it comes to screen time, less is more:

“Parents also need to remember to limit kids’ use of video and computer games, the AAP says. ‘Total screen time, including television and computer use, should be less than one hour per day for children 2 years or older and avoided for those younger than 2 years of age,’ the guidelines point out.”

That was the rule in my growing-up years, when “screens” meant television. I may have chafed at it, at the time, but (with the perspective and, hopefully, maturity that age brings) I recognize the wisdom of the restriction, now.

Caveat emptor! “Some products may be marketed in a way that makes parents feel their kids are missing out if they don’t get them. Don’t fall for it, the AAP says.” Oh, really? Do ya think? Gee, I didn’t know that corporations ever marketed their products in ways that over-state their benefits and minimize their risks… *wry smile*

In any case:

Read the whole article – there’s a lot more information, and it’s all interesting, especially to those who care about the social and physical, as well as intellectual and psycho-emotional, development of children.

If the World Could Just Snap Green Beans With Granny Again | Appalachian Magazine

Green-Beans

Though I make my living writing articles online and sharing posts on social media, I cannot possibly thank God enough that I was born prior to the days rectangular-shaped screens conquered society.

Source: If the World Could Just Snap Green Beans With Granny Again | Appalachian Magazine

Another good one from Appalachian Magazine.

“I’m not so naïve to believe that simply by gathering around a front porch and snapping green beans all of the problems of this generation would be erased; however, I believe it would sure be a heck of a great place to start…

Though I make my living writing articles online and sharing posts on social media, I cannot possibly thank God enough that I was born prior to the days rectangular-shaped screens conquered society.”

Amen. I feel the same way.

And I have many good memories of snapping green beans, shelling peas, and shelling lima beans on the big, screened-in porch of my Grandma Reamer’s un-air-conditioned farmhouse in Dennisville, New Jersey. How I do miss those days! And the activities, and – especially – the people who made the memories golden.

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Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today – with musings on the implications for our culture and its future

Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today

“I recently dug up a 1908 curriculum manual in the Minnesota Historical Society archives. It provided instructions on everything from teacher deportment to recommended literature lists for various grades…”

Source: Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today | Intellectual Takeout

Writer and educator Annie Holmquist compares 7th & 8th grade readings lists for 1908 Minnesota with one from 2016. What she found may not surprise many readers of this blog, but it may sadden us: the idea that the curriculum has been “dumbed down” over the last century appears to be all too true.

Noting the disparity in age of the literary works on the 1908 list compared to the 2016 one, she points out,

“Older is not necessarily better, but the books on the first list suggest that schools of the past were more likely to give their students time-tested, classic literature, rather than books whose popularity may happen to be a passing fad…

[Nota Bene: C.S. Lewis had some good things to say on the subject of reading old books.]

She then goes on to add,

“A second striking difference between the two book lists are the themes they explore. The first is full of historical references and settings which stretch from ancient Greece (Tanglewood Tales) to the Middle Ages (Harold, Last of the Saxon Kings) to the founding of America (Courtship of Miles Standish). Through highly recognized authors such as Longfellow, Stevenson, Kipling, and Dickens, these titles introduce children to a vast array of themes crucial to understanding the foundations upon which America and western civilization were built.”

I would like to highlight her statement, quoted above, that the books on the 1908 reading list “introduce children to a vast array of themes crucial to understanding the foundations upon which America and western civilization were built,” because that is a big piece of what we have lost over the last hundred years, in my opinion.

Education nowadays seems to have as one of its core values the elevation of the wonders of multiculturalism… and a subsequent, and consequent, devaluation of “the foundations upon which America and western civilization were built.” Is it any wonder that our children are graduating from grade school, and later college or university, with little knowledge and less appreciation for America, and Western civilization?

And it it any wonder that the foundations, left thus untended, or even undermined, are becoming more than a little shaky?

Moving along: to be honest, she is a bit too generous in many aspects of her assessment of the contemporary list for my tastes. But you can read that on your own, and make your own judgements. However she is square on the money, I think, when she writes,

Unless we give our students challenging material to dissect, process, and study, how can we expect them to break out of the current poor proficiency ratings and advance beyond a basic reading level?

Quick answer: we can’t.

Or as they say in computer lingo, “garbage in, garbage out.” That is not to say that everything our children are being taught today, literature-wise or otherwise, is garbage. But the percentage of low-quality selections is too high. As in so many other areas of life, the concern is more for making sure that students are exposed to works that are contemporary and multicultural, rather than time-tested and substantive.

Anyone who is paying attention cannot help but notice an overall decrease in literacy and erudition over the past century. But what really brought it home to me was the opportunity I had, some years ago now, to pore over a stack (actually a shelf) of old yearbooks at my alma mater, the former Western Maryland College (now “McDaniel College”), that went back at least to 1912, that I recall.

Some years were missing, and I didn’t have time to skim through them all, but the decline (dare I say, degeneration?) was clear to see – and particularly in the years following World War Two. The early ones were indeed erudite! And that at a level one would never even think to expect of a yearbook, nowadays. Articulate, polished, witty, and replete with plays on words and classical references, they were an embodiment of what college education used to stand for, back in the days of its glory.

There hadn’t been too much slippage by my mother’s time there (she graduated in 1949), but they still weren’t quite up to the standard set by those earlier volumes. By the time of my brother’s college years (he graduated in 1975) the rot was well on – the references weren’t to classical heroes and classical philosophy, but to football, beer, and girls.

And by my time – I entered in 1983, left in 1985, and returned to finish up from 1989-91 – it was about what you’d expect: the “Animal House” approach to the college experience (with a side of incipient political correctness, even at the beginning, and especially during my second tour there). I don’t know what they’d be like now, and I’d almost prefer not to imagine…

But of course, college doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The seeds are sown at home, naturally, but the sprouts are tended and watered (or not) in grade school. If the early school curriculum is dumbed down, it’s no wonder that colleges and universities must spend so much time remediating that lack, to even get students up to where they can function at the “college level” – and why so many seem to have given up on academics and what used to be called “higher education,” being content to function as glorified (and expensive) trade schools.

It’s really quite sad, and one of the many factors (whether symptom or cause being one of those chicken-and-egg questions that may not be wholly answerable) in our overall cultural and societal decline. If there are two institutions which have done the most to preserve, foster, and transmit Western culture and civilization over the last millennium, they are the Church and the University. If both are failing, as it appears they are – whither the West?

Fatherless Shooters … as Liberals Push for Fatherless Families | Crisis Magazine

Boys need dads. Just as daughters need dads. Children need fathers. They also need mothers.

Source: Fatherless Shooters … as Liberals Push for Fatherless Families – Crisis Magazine

I have a variety of interests, so I have a variety of stories coming through my Facebook news-feed – one of my chief methods, as a former op-ed columnist and lifelong student of human nature, for keeping my finger on the pulse of society. One of these was an essay by Paul Kengor, contributor to the online Roman Catholic magazine “Crisis,” citing a claim that I have seen before: that all but one of the 27 deadliest mass shooters in American history was raised in a home without his biological father.

Correlation, of course, is not causation; but if true, that would be a pretty stunning correlation. However, the essay was prefaced by an editor’s note that the figure cited was inaccurate, and containing a link to a new article discussing the complications in arriving at an authentic figure (the original article is well worth a read, even so, as shall become evident below). Kengor notes, with evident frustration, that “this is a dissertation project for an aspiring sociologist.” As it turns out, however, even the revised / updated estimates are still pretty stunning.

In “Shootings and Fatherlessness: A Clarification on the Data,” Kengor concludes that

“At most, and this is probably being generous, we found maybe four or five of the 27 shooters that we could definitively conclude (without doubt) had been raised in an intact family, or a family that included the biological dad at home, or a biological father who was consistently at home… what is clear is the vast majority of shooters came from broken families without a consistent biological father throughout their rearing and development. Very few had good, stable, present dads.”

Indeed! Something like one in five, if that. As Kengor goes on to note, “The overall thesis holds: the correlation between certain bad (even criminal) behavior among boys in fatherless homes is undeniable and terrible. In this case, the number of fatherless boys might not be 96 percent, but it’s certainly a highly disproportionate number.” He hastens to add that “Obviously, this doesn’t mean that boys raised in fatherless families are likely to become mass shooters. But it’s yet further affirmation of what we already know: boys need dads. Just as daughters need dads. Children need fathers. They also need mothers.”

This used to be self-evident, and widely accepted on both sides of the political aisle. Here is one quote from a former American President, cited by Kengor:

“We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”

Who spoke these words? Ronald Reagan? George W. Bush? Nope. Barack Obama. I am no fan of the 44th president, but if even the poster-child for modern American “liberal” and “progressive” ideology recognized, in 2008 – ten short years ago – that children need their fathers, that is a pretty clear indicator that it is, or should be, an issue that transcends partnership.

That it no longer seems to be so is a reflection of the changing parameters of progressivist ideology, but tracing that is not the concern of this present essay; Kengor does a rather good job of that in his piece, if you wish to pursue the matter. I will here simply note that even if the figure of 26 out of 27 mass shooters growing up in broken homes is erroneous, 22 or 23 out of that number is still stunningly high. It is not a number which can or should be dismissed by a thoughtful observer.

Now, as I say, I have a variety of interests. And so one of the other articles that came through my newsfeed on this day was this one, from the UK’s “The Guardian”: “No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?” The tagline notes that “Strokes and hugs are being edged out of our lives, with doctors, teachers and colleagues increasingly hesitant about social touching,” and asks, “Is this hypervigilance of boundaries beginning to harm our mental health?” My response to that question is that it contains its own answer. Of course it is!

As the essay itself notes, “Touch is the first sense humans develop in the womb, possessed even of 1.5cm embryos.” And insufficient touch – hugs, cuddles, etc. – has long been recognized as a contributor to “failure to thrive” in infants and children, and difficulties in childhood development in general. See, for example, this article in Scientific American, which notes that “Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional and social problems as they grow up.” And something which is so critical to our early development does not suddenly become inconsequential once we have reached a certain level of maturity.

Furthermore, many mass shooters (though not all) are adolescents. With current studies suggesting that full brain maturity does not occur until somewhere between age 20 and 25, they are in many cases still in the development stage. So that leads me to wonder: are these people getting hugged enough? Are they – and particularly, were they during the most critical stages of development – receiving enough affection, enough positive emotional and physical stimuli? Were they, children of broken homes as so many of them have been, hugged, cuddled, read to while curled up in bed or their parents’ arms? This is not snowflake-safe-space la-la-land, this is a serious mental, and therefore public, health issue.

In fact, it leads me to have a little more sympathy for the seekers of “safe spaces” on the Left, because maybe they themselves did not get enough physical affection as children. Is that why so many of them seem so alienated, so angry, so out of touch with culture, history, heritage, traditional norms, and much else – that they did not, in fact, receive enough affection growing up? That they did not feel safe in their parents’ arms, surrounded by the comfort of home and family traditions? That, being also children of broken homes in too many cases, they never had a real sense of security and at-home-ness?

If so, that would not totally justify some of the looniness, but it might help to explain it. And, with our increasing prohibition on touch – out of an almost hysterical fear (not entirely unjustified, but excessive) of sexual predation – are we breeding more of the same? More alienation, more separation, and potentially, more violence? It’s a sobering thought, at least to me.

We are, at least and at last, starting to wake up to the role of mental illness in violence as more than just a convenient criminal defense (“not guilty by reason of insanity”). But we run the risk of over-reach – not everyone who has ever sought the aid of mental-health professionals is a risk to him- or herself, or others – and we also run the risk of stopping too soon, before we’ve followed the road for long enough. Okay, yeah, these folks definitely have some mental health issues. You don’t attempt to kill large numbers of people (or anyone, except to defend yourself or others) unless you’ve got some pretty serious mental health issues! But mental health issues don’t exist in a vacuum. Where do they come from? What is their source?

There is no single or easy answer to that question; but fatherlessness, and the larger issue of living in broken homes, dysfunctional and divided families, and the consequent loss of physical and emotional affection, positive reinforcement, and overall security that may result, do seem to be fruitful areas of inquiry, to me.

As well as the societal assumptions driving these problems: the idea that relationships are disposable – that people are disposable! – and that “my” short-term happiness and gratification is more important than the hard work of creating long-term, nurturing relationships; that marriage is no longer a sacred institution, but a short-term (or even optional) arrangement that may be ended or dispensed with according to  my own sense of what’s convenient; that children are an imposition (better to have “fur-babies”), not a gift from God; even that gender is fluid and interchangeable (which is one way of saying that objective reality is optional) – and the list could go on.

Guns are low-hanging fruit, easily observed and therefore easily blamed. I have discussed this issue many times and many places in the past, so all I will say at the moment is that a sufficiently draconian ban to have a realistic chance of making it impossible, or even difficult, for would-be mass murders to get their hands on firearms would a) be almost impossible to achieve in the U.S., even if it were desirable, and b) is not desirable, because it would involve an extreme infringement of our rights and liberties, and would unfairly burden the law-abiding while being unlikely to deter killers from finding other ways to kill.

The real issue is this: what causes people to choose to use firearms, not (as most of us do) as useful and interesting tools for hunting, for recreational shooting, and – if it should sadly become necessary – to defend ourselves, our loved ones, or even (God forbid) our country and its Constitutional system of government and way of life against malefactors, but instead to take innocent life? That is the real question, and the one which is being studiously avoided by the majority of media, academic, and political commentators.

But I would suggest to you that broken homes and families – fatherlessness in particular, but the absence of either parent is a major handicap – along with the loss of security, stability, and (by no means least) physical affection which accompanies that brokenness, are some areas in which we need to take a long, hard look at what we are doing and where we are going as a society.

As a driver-education instructor, I have many times told my students that since beginning to teach driver’s ed, I have come to realize that traffic and driving laws are not there to hold you back and make driving a chore. They are there to help you, to protect you, to save your life and the lives of others. In a similar way, I have over the years come to realize that the family and societal norms embodied in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition are not right because they are tenets of the religion. They are tenets of the religion (most of which are not entirely unique to that particular tradition) because they are right.

Don’t believe it? Look around you at the society in which we are living today, deeply and honestly, and I think you may change your mind.

And if not, I’m sorry to say, it may be some time for you to do some serious introspection and soul-searching.