#240: Childhood In An Anxious Age
Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and thank you for opening today’s issue, whether this is your first or your 240th. This week’s issue features articles on how best to parent anxious children, why so many streets are named after Confederate generals, what makes the U.S. Postal Service so special, and how swimming is the most transformative type of exercise. (I still like running better.) If you’re a parent or a teacher, definitely read the lead article; if you like history, go with the second one; if you’re feeling sentimental, start with the photo of Miki, then read the whole second half. Enjoy!
+ I have a question for you: You’re sheltering in place, working from home, homeschooling your kids, worrying about your family and friends, and maybe navigating your partner. When and how are you finding the time and space to read? Please hit reply to tell me your secrets, or if you prefer, get your voice out there. I’ll share some tips and tricks next week.
Not every kid who is scared of the dark or who demands chicken tenders every night is going to experience mental health problems as an adult. But anxiety among children is real, is growing, and needs to be addressed.
The problem, according to Kate Julian, is not that we ignore our children’s anxiety but that we coddle and accommodate them too much. About 95 percent of parents, experiencing high levels of stress themselves, choose to avoid conflict with their children, steering them away from potential harm before tantrums emerge. But “short-term pain leads to long-term gain,” psychologists say, and the best way to teach children to cope with their anxious emotions is to treat the parents. (43 min)
+ Want to see some of my highlights of the print article? Here they are!
Born and raised in Harlem, Benjamin Israel moved to Hollywood, Florida, liked the weather and stayed, but began to wonder why many of the streets in the Black neighborhood were named after Confederate generals, including Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. So Mr. Israel started making speeches at the city council meetings, excoriated the absurdity of Shelby Foote and the Lost Cause, demanded the streets be renamed, and didn’t stop until he prevailed. (18 min)
+ This piece by Deirdre Mask is an excerpt from her new book, The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power.
Here’s Sophie, a 2-pound Miki, with her owner, VIP Len, in The Highlighter’s first-ever dog-plus-mug-plus-owner photo. Can anyone top this? If you’re hankering for a mug, become a VIP or head to highlighter.cc/store. As for getting yourself a cute dog, feel free to scour the archives for ideas! hltr.co/issues
Sure, we have email and Slack, Google Docs and PDFs, and digital subscriptions to periodicals. But there’s no substitute to receiving a real letter or having a care package arrive on your stoop. In this classic essay, Jesse Lichtenstein argues that while the U.S. Postal Service may never make money, it’s a miracle nonetheless, delivering 160 billion pieces of mail a year, thanks to its 227,000 postal carriers, 32,000 post offices, and 2,000-member police force. “It’s what binds us together as a country.” (44 min)
+ This article is dedicated to loyal reader Beth, a longtime ardent supporter of the USPS.
People tell me I should give up running “before it’s too late” and take up swimming instead. Not a huge fan of being wet or cold, I typically demur, but reading this romantic, sentimental piece encouraged me to give water another try once the pandemic passes. Bonnie Tsui writes, “Swimming is a way for us to remember how to play,” and suggests that being in the water improves our breathing, our relationship with our bodies, and our connection to the vastness of the sea. (6 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Last week’s “Baking Bread In Lyon” struck a chord. Not able to contain his excitement, loyal reader Tyler said the article “was sooooo good.” Loyal reader Phoebe wrote, “It was such a nice balm for these times.” And loyal reader Marna took things to the next level:
I woke this morning and saw that I had enough overripe bananas to make bread. As I read the baking piece, the aroma of the bread filled my kitchen. Thank you for making my morning more beautiful.
Also popular last week was “Hiking In The Woods With My Curmudgeonly Big Brother.” Loyal reader Martha, who encourages you to check out her YouTube channel, where she hosts live readings of The Highlighter (also in Spanish), liked the article because “I’ve been in a sappy mood and miss my family” and felt like the piece “read like a love letter.” Sharing a similar mood, loyal reader Hannah wrote that the piece brought her to tears:
I loved the article about the brothers. It totally made me cry (which seems to be happening more frequently than it used to), and was a wonderful reminder of the strength of sibling relationships and the beauty of loving people for who they are.
I love hearing from you, learning that the articles resonate with you, and building this reading community together. Go ahead, hit reply, and share your thoughts.
You did it again! Thank you for reading this week’s newsletter. Let me know what you thought by hitting reply or by clicking on the thumbs below. Also, let’s welcome our community’s four new subscribers, including Nêy, Jac, Cat, and Lindsay. I hope that you find this newsletter a solid addition to your Thursday email inbox.
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