Our weekly series sharing some of the more interesting things I’ve read this week
This week we have extracts from posts or articles about: Diana, yelling at kids, British and American friendships, and Star Wars conspiracy theories.
Naomi Watts Takes On the Insufferable Cult of Diana by Victoria Beale (New Republic)
Part of what is so interesting and infuriating about the British royalty, and those who marry into it, is that they must pantomime being ordinary while also being gifted exceptional circumstances. Take the media frenzy over Prince William’s comment, outside the hospital after the birth of his son: “He’s got a good pair of lungs on ’im, that’s for sure. He’s a big boy, he’s quite heavy.’’ He has to do a winning impression of an ordinary, beleaguered father, while also tacitly acknowledging the global fanfare. And then when Kate Middleton, in her blue polka dots, quietly confessed, ‘‘I think any parent will know what this feeling feels like,” the same papers that faithfully reported her scrambling social machinations cooed over her normalcy. Attitudes toward royalty in Britain are brutal, fawning, and prurient all at once.
But Diana captures none of that. Instead of a troubled, complicated woman thrust into the role of international icon, this Diana is an otherworldly ingénue. Diana Spencer was engaged to the Prince of Wales when she was nineteen, married a month after she turned twenty, while Charles was thirty-two. She was subject to a pre-wedding inspection by a royally appointed gynecologist to affirm that she was untrammelled for the future King. This kind of institutional severity would be enough to unbalance any teenager, and a script that took into account her darknesses, flaws, and the downright strangeness of the modern monarchy could be fascinating, as it was in Stephen Frears’s The Queen. But instead of interrogating the cult of Diana, this is a weak, airbrushed melodrama that tells us nothing about contemporary royalty at all.
Stop YELLING AT YOUR KIDS. It’s Bad for Them by Katy Waldman (Slate)
While discipline is supposed to be about education, it’s often more about punishment—a punishment to produce adult catharsis.
How should you discipline your infuriating spawn when conflict arises? NOT BY YELLING. A study out in the September issue of the Journal of Child Psychology suggests that yelling is really bad for spawn. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that “harsh verbal discipline”—cursing, insults, and shouting—can be as harmful to kids as hitting or spanking. The scientists tracked 967 middle-schoolers for two years. The students attended 10 public schools in eastern Pennsylvania and came from middle-class families that were not considered “high risk.” Sifting through surveys these kids and their families completed on “their mental health, child-rearing practices, the quality of the parent-child relationship and general demographics,” researchers concluded that 1) yelling and bratty behavior reinforced each other, 2) yelling increased the likelihood that a child would become depressed, and 3) even kids in homes that were otherwise “warm and loving” were not immune to a raised voice’s damaging effects.
But what’s wrong with yelling, exactly? “If you yell at your child, you either create somebody who yells back at you or somebody who is shamed and retreats,” Meghan Leahy, a mother of three and a local parenting coach, told the Washington Post. “You’re either growing aggression or growing shame. Those are not characteristics that any parents want in their kids.”
US Expat Describes The Best And Worst Things About England by Dawn Rutherford Marchant (Business Insider)
People jump to conclusions about Brits being unfriendly but this is simply an American reaction to the British cultural norm of avoiding relationships that are superficial. Once you are a friend, it is sincere and has a depth and permanence that outlasts many of those I had in the U.S.