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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
           Wednesday, April 18 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterShould children be happy?

One of the strange aspects of Bertrand Russell's essays from the New York newspaper of nearly three-quarters of a century ago, as discussed here Wednesday, was one on the topic, Should Children be Happy? It probably won't surprise you to learn that Russell was in favor of children being raised in an environment that promotes their happiness. But what is hard for our 2003 senses and sensibilities to take in is his assertion that, in his world of 1932 the opposite proposition was widely supported. Making them happy just opens children to false hopes and ideas about life and fosters both silly notions and unattainable expectations.

And having been a child in the 1940's. I find this revelation not totally surprising. Moreover, remembering my conversations with my older brothers, who were children in the very years that Russell was writing about, reinforces the suspicion that that attitude was widespread not only in Russell's England of the time, but in Western Pennsylvania as well. My mother and my favorite aunt were dedicated to our generation's general happiness, but there was always a strong inkling that our dad, and our aunt's husband, for that matter, were not only not very supportive of their wives' child-rearing philosophies, they seemed to undercut them at many turns.

Which brings me to an observation not expected when I embarked on this discourse. Ours may have been the first generation, at least in a generally rural environment, of children not thought of by their parents, especially their fathers, as liabilities rather than assets. Both of my parents came from much larger families than mine. And we've always been told that through the century preceding our time (and probably for more centuries before that) having large families was practiced to provide cheap labor on the family farm, which was the mainstay of the family's economy in that era.

My father and uncle were probably raised by men who genuinely feared that if the kids got too happy with play and interests of their own choosing, they might cop out on doing their share of the daily chores. Certainly, even when I was a child, my dad obviously considered it one of his vital tasks to keep us busy every day. And often it was in tasks, like planting potatoes or hoeing corn, feeding livestock, or in brother Gary's case, milking cows, that made contributions to the family's economic status.

This topic has opened some possibilities that may be worth pursuing futher. If you have experiences or thoughts to share, please pitch in, either to me personally or by answering to the whole list.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 You know you're a Pennsylvanian if... (last of series)

"You guys" is a perfectly acceptable reference to a group of men and women.
You know how to respond to the question "Djeetyet?" (Didyoueatyet?)
You learned to pronounce Bryn Mawr, Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, Bala Cynwyd and Monongahela.
You know what a "Mummer" is, and are disappointed if you can't catch at least highlights of the parade.
You actually understand these jokes and send them on to other Pennsylvanians.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Lenten thought for today

TWhen we speak about wisdom, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about virtue, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about peace, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about truth and truth and life and redemption, we are speaking of Christ.

— St. Ambrose, 340 to 397
Quoted in Daily Vitamins for Spiritual Growth, Anthony M. Coniaris

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