Children have been sending letters to Santa for well over a century now, and for much of that time those letters don't look very different from today's. Children want toys, and they want to convince Santa that they ought to get them. But where did that tradition come from, and how did it develop into its modern form? How did we come to believe that Santa lives at the North Pole and that the postal service can carry letters to Santa? What kinds of things have changed in the things children ask for over time? The Smithsonian's trying to deliver some answers for the holidays. (Previously: 1, 2).
Why are little kids in Japan so independent? - 'If we had a nonviolent society, kids could walk around on their own, unafraid, like they do in Japan'. (via)
Eena, meena, mina, mo, / Cracka, feena, fina, fo, / Uppa, nootcha, poppa, tootcha, / Ring, ding, dang, doe. "Losing Count: “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo” and the ambiguous history of counting-out rhymes," from The Paris Review.
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
Generation Gap: "The parents of China’s post-1980 generation [the bā líng hòu (八零後)] (themselves born between 1950 and 1965) grew up in a rural, Maoist world utterly different from that of their children. In their adolescence, there was one phone per village, the universities were closed and jobs were assigned from above. If you imagine the disorientation and confusion of many parents in the West when it comes to the internet and its role in their children’s lives, and then add to that dating, university life and career choices, you come close to the generational dilemma. Parents who spent their own early twenties labouring on remote farms have to deal with children who measure their world in malls, iPhones and casual dates." [more inside]
The Everyday Sexism Project collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter account. [more inside]
“Commitment vows are very powerful, even in a cynical era when people aren't afraid of getting divorced,”
Families in Flux:"As household arrangements take new directions, scientists attempt to sort out the social effects" [more inside]
The cost of raising a child from cradle to 18 has risen to $222,000. Chiefly among the reasons is parents' desire to "cultivate" their children.
A nearly 25-year study has concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers. Results were published this month in Pediatrics: the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Abstract. Free PDF. Scribd). [more inside]
UK adoption agencies are reporting "huge numbers of calls from 'deeply distressed' adoptive parents whose children have been contacted" through Facebook and other social networking sites, in violation of the traditional, confidential reunion process between birth parents and their offspring who have been placed with other families. Full report from Channel 4. [more inside]
Generation WE: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever (via) [more inside]
Speaking of speeches, David Eggers delivers one at TED on grassroots community tutoring for kids who need help with their English homework: "There's something about the kids finishing their homework in a given day, working one on one, getting all this attention. They finish their homework, they go home -- they're finished. They don't stall. They don't do their homework in front of the TV. They're allowed to go home 5:30, enjoy their family, enjoy other hobbies, get outside, play and that makes a happy family. A bunch of happy families in a neighborhood is a happy community. A bunch of happy communities tied together is a happy city and a happy world, right? So, the key to it all is homework." Love him or hate him (mefi consensus) it's a great example of
nervous energy microphilanthropy, social entrepreneurship and, if I may make the connection, machines of loving grace. [previously]
Inner City Youth, London "In 2002, Simon Wheatley began photographing London's publich housing developments...and was able to obtain a level of intimacy with his subjects that provides a true picture of the daunting project of growing up in the intimate confines of drug use, societal neglect, and poverty." This (Flash-based) narrated slideshow features Wheatley's work, and is a look at the culture...and also the music (grime) "as an artistic response to the place and circumstance, an expression of the violence, bleakness, and neglect..." (via Future Feeder)