Thursday, December 05, 2002

Family and Culture File
-Earlier this year, Calvin College provost Joel Carpenter e-mailed to say he basically agreed with my anti-family values column (in Det. Freep and Chimes), but...

I'm not sure industrialization, per se, made for the change in roles, however. It certainly did not for the working class, at least in the early stages of industrialization, when women and children were most prized for work in the mills. The "cult of domesticity," as it has been called, was more an urban middle-class ideal, and had something more to do with the exclusion of women from the "white collar" business world, where up through the end of the century, I think, secretarial jobs were held by men. But that's a small quibble. I agree that family values has become a code word for individual nuclear family interests vs. the world, rather than the more communal, extended-family values of the village and neighborhood. Those are the "traditional values" we really have lost.

-When a family goes tube-less, a few weeks ago in NWeek

We want our daughters, Jazzy, now nearly 6, and Gigi, 3, to be as active as possible, physically and mentally. So when a babysitter asked whether Jazzy, then 1 year old, could watch [TV], we thought about it—and said no. When we look at our inquisitive, energetic daughters, we have no regrets. And our reading of the research makes us feel even better.... Kids who watch more than 10 hours of TV each week are more likely to be overweight, aggressive and slow to learn in school, according to the American Medical Association. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children younger than 2 and a maximum of two hours a day of “screen time” (TV, computers or videogames) for older kids. We are convinced that without TV, our daughters spend more time than other kids doing cartwheels, listening to stories and asking such interesting questions as “How old is God?” and “What makes my rubber ducks float?”

-Cover story: TV can be good for kids: ‘Television viewing is a much more intellectual activity for kids than anybody had previously supposed.’

I dunno, I'm hanging on to the Aristotelian golden mean here: all things in moderation. I think our self-indulgent culture has forgotten what moderation feels like.

-Suburban chronicler David Brooks recently in NY Times Magazine:

SimsI don't know if it strikes you as odd that of all the arenas of human endeavor, the one that has produced the best-selling computer game of all time is the American suburb. There are other games about intergalactic warfare, supersonic-jet dogfights and inner-city car theft, but none of them attract the same fanatical following -- and no game attracts any sort of following among women -- as the Sims. You install the Sims on your computer and you begin the game, and what do you see? A subdivision. There's a little ranch home over here, a colonial over there, a larger McMansion up the hill.... There's no winning and losing in the Sims. No points, no end. In the game, as in life, you just keep doing the dishes until you die.

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