children

All posts tagged children

CHRISTMAS

Published December 6, 2013 by Tony

LETTERS TO SANTA

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Christmas, time for gifts and evaluations.
In Italy, several say that Christmas is a celebration for children, but I’m not at all convinced.
Maybe because it represents Jesus’ birth, but also those who are not observant or true Catholic Christians are involved in its tender and compassionate atmosphere. Others say that they decorate the tree or make the crib because they have children at home, but underneath it all, the first to find pleasure in doing so are just ourselves, the adults.
Christmas and New Year are also holidays when family gets together, people have meal together or meet to exchange greetings.
A moment of aggregation, dialogue, openness.
In the end, everyone becomes better and, believers or not, the Christmas‘ purpose and true meaning is safe. Too bad it only happens once a year and lasts only a few days!
Whether it’s Befana or Santa Claus, this is also the period for toys to children.
Who have never written a letter to Santa Claus?
Italian children are always polite and respectful in their requests. As usual, they write to have been good kids and end the letter by saying : “I promise you that I will be more good in the future… “, in the hope to get the toys they want.
Usually, children write their letters to Santa with the help of parents or teachers, and many of them before puberty already are aware that it is only a childish thing.
In my day we were content with little, even a simple plastic gun became an important gift for us children, where Christmas was the only time to get a toy. Then, it was custom to hide gifts, so, early in the morning, we woke up excited and went in search of the package for the whole house.
I do not deny that when my son/dau were babies, I repeated this ritual.
In the night, before sending children to bed, we together put the socks hanging somewhere with their letters, and to pretend that Befana or Santa Claus found something to eat, I let a slice of cake with a drink nearby.
They are considered to be short-tempered and you have to treat them well!
Then we all went to bed. As soon as children had fallen asleep, I got up and carefully substitutive socks with colorful stockings filled with sweets, took off the cake’s slice, leaving a few crumbs here and there, emptied the glass, and then I hid the various toys in the room.
Needless to say that the next morning, they were the children to get up early, not in their shoes to see if Befana or Santa Claus had come.
Their astonishment at seeing the crumbs, empty glass and sparkling socks really is priceless!

The tenderness and naivety of children leaves you speechless.

After the first moments of perplexity, shown by their eyes wide open and sweet expression of wonder, the first gifts, the biggest, were sighted.
“Oh … mom, dad, look at that!”
And then opening the package to see what’s inside… another moment of surprise and wonder….
Really beautiful experiences you never forget.

                           inquiries  ladygaga

                             oryoudie  1_amazon

MY BEST WISHES

for a Happy and Saint Christmas to you all.

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condominiums spaces

Published August 15, 2013 by Tony

Let children play alone

The City of Milan has proposed an amendment to the regulation of the municipal police, which would allow use of the spaces inside the condominiums to residents, for letting children play or other purposes, in compliance with the provided time slots.
A good news indeed, if we consider that, especially in the North, the condos are closed and “sad” spaces, sometimes very big that do not have a real utility. Therefore, it is nice to know that these collective microworlds can find their own arrangement, like to be used by children to play or dwellers to organize  little parties, without having to rent a special “site” to do it.

Today, many parents are forced to accompany their children in small playgrounds or prohibit the young teenagers to go out alone. They look like prisoners who are brought out in small confined areas and watched over.
Years ago, everything was simpler and no big concerns, our kids could play in the yard or even in the street. Fortunately, in the South this “custom” still remains in many countries. I have already had the opportunity to talk about this subject in some previous posts, and I am of the opinion that, at least for kids, this is the best way to socialize and make friends…. oh gosh yea! a lot better than Facebook!

CHILDREN WITHOUT FATHER

Published July 22, 2013 by Tony

FATHERHOOD

Fatherhood by Ruth Bloch

Among test-tube babies, single mothers and divorces, the “father model” is in crisis, as the concept of “family” itself.
In 1990, 65% of Americans were happy to have children, today the percentage has dropped to 45. Over the past 10 years in Spain the number of marriages has dropped from 270,000 a year to 160 thousand. Even in Brazil, the birth rate fell from 4.3 children per woman to 1.9.
I would my father back home,” this is what Telemachus, son of Odysseus, says in Homer’s Odyssey, while scanning the horizon.
Not many things have changed since then, because today, the father figure is often missing and his absence is felt by a lot of children.
This has created a cascade of social and psychological effects not very positive.
Today, Telemachus can be compared with a child got by artificial insemination, then facing an odyssey in search of his biological dad. For a lot of them it is not enough to know that he/she has been conceived through a sperm donor whose specimen is identified by a simple number.
In this regard, the documentary “Anonymous father’s day” by Jennifer Lahl, is very comprehensive, describing the “genealogical confusion” and the adolescents trouble, dealing with the uncertainty of their origins.
To many the father figure may be the future, which through the comparison by meeting and clashing life gets “new force”, while children deprived of their father feels as if they fled the test of life that would make them be adult. Without a dad they lose the sense of pain and the memory of who they are. Parents death leads to make sense of destiny and give continuity to the progeny. It is a way to conquer death, and know where we go.
It was once said that young people psychologically unstable or inclined to become gay, were those who grew up without the presence of a male figure.
According to David Brooks, who writes in the New York Times, people are better if they have family and children. The commitments deriving therefrom, leads them to take care of people and future of the nation.
Also, according to some statistics of some American “advisory council”, family where the father is lacking, they are more poor and a risk factor for children (health, drugs, delinquency). Not for nothing Obama said, “….doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one….”
Obviously, there are also those who do not want to hear about fatherhood, for whom it means pain, loss, lack of care, violence, a sort of cultural heritage from the past better to get rid of. The opposite of the efforts in the work of Robet Bily through his writings and the movement “The mythopoetic men’s“, considered a “revolutionary” by liberals.
Because in the end it is easier to speak evil of the father than do without him.

ITALIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL CLASS

Published April 3, 2013 by Tony

ITALIAN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

What do children study in Italian elementary school?
In Italy, children aged from three to five attend nursery school or kindergarten, followed by primary school, called elementary school, which has a duration of five years, and for children aged 6 and above. In elementary school, upon request, parents can choose between “single teacher class” (one teacher for each classroom), or the “didactic module“, consisting of three or four teachers holder of a different subject area (linguistic-expressive mathematical-scientific, anthropological).
Most primary schools are “full time”, i.e. where the school day is divided over 40 hours per week, from Monday to Friday, 8 hours per day, and in these cases there is a school canteen.
In each class two co-owners teachers alternate in the morning and in the afternoon, with preset times and different discipline areas to teach. Education is based on the following disciplines:

Italian, English, History, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Technology and IT, Music, Art and Design, Physical Education and Catholic Religion, topics which, from the first year until the fifth, are step by step deepened.
With regard to the most important subjects:

ITALIAN

Children who begin the first year of primary school are already able to read and write, but the teaching starts with giving more knowledge of Italian, through:
research and writing of words containing double consonants, plural forms of nouns (ending with the four vowels a, e, i, o, u), the use of adjectives and adverbs, time and manner of verbs, the creation of simple phrases that makes sense.
The study of Italian grammar is gradually deepened in subsequent years and, through reading, study of famous poetries and fictions, and subjecting elaboration of essays and recaps, to the pupil is given the opportunity to write more correctly in Italian.

MATHEMATIC
In the first year of primary school, children should already be able to count and teaching begins with the arithmetic basic rules, through the memorization of multiplication tables, with the study and execution of the four algebraic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). During the five years, the child will know the basic principles of algebra and geometry, finishing the course with the knowledge of fractions, and binomials.

HISTORY
The study of human history begins with the prehistory and continues through the course of five years from the great civilizations up to the Roman.

GEOGRAPHY

The study of geography begins with the knowledge of landscapes and the concept of orientation until to study the physical and economic geography of Italy and its regions.

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SCIENCE
It starts with knowledge about elements, natural phenomena, passing from Animal Kingdom to the study of the human body.

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ENGLISH

It starts with the knowledge of common words until to be able to compose simple sentences and their translations.

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At the end of the fifth years, children who are eligible to continue, pass to the next compulsory course of study, the lower secondary school (known as middle school) for a period of three years.

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Average family lifestyle

Published April 2, 2013 by Tony

How is the life of an average middle-class family here in Naples?
And that of a pensioner?

I think this is one of the curiosities that arises in people interested in Italian culture and living in other countries.
To realize that the answer cannot be exhaustive, ask yourself the same question, how is an usual family’s life in your country?
As you can see, at this question we can only give a very general answer, because there would be too many cases to be taken into account, varying from family to family and even according to the area they are living in.
Keeping me very general, I will consider two average family, the first consisting of a father and a mother, both workers, with two teenage children, and the second formed by two grandparents already retired.

For us, the “peak hours”, to indicate the hours of the day when there is more traffic and more people in the street, are the ones in the morning from 8.30 to 14, which roughly corresponds to the entry and exit from schools and shops and offices opening hours; then with another rush hour at about 14 (shops re-opening hour), and between 19 to 20, the closing time for factories and shops.
Of course, moving and traveling in urban centers during these hours is more difficult and takes more time giving more stress. No problem, however, for those who have schools and shops close at hand, and that, therefore, can easily move on foot.

Usually, students must leave home in time to be in their high school at 8.10 – 8.20 am, and except in special cases, most adolescents reach the school either by foot (if the school is nearby) or by public transport, and in this case they must be in the street at least one hour before. At that time, the majority of the public transport are crowded with students who move to the city and suburbs for going to school. Therefore, you can well realize the confusion and noise that you will be subjected if traveling on one of these buses.
In contrast, the majority of parents, who are employees or traders, move by car to reach their own workplace. Except in special cases, this means that between 7 and 8 in the morning they already have to leave home.

As I already have mentioned in a previous post, here most of the parents are quite tolerant towards their children. From what I know, compared to American families for example, here there is less worry and anxiety towards teenagers (from 14-15 up), who get enough freedom to go out alone and travel on their own.
With regard to working hours, I cannot generalize because depending of the work, some parents may be back home lunchtime, and then be able to eat together with their children who meantime are got out from school. Anyway, it’s a fact that are dads to be back home in the afternoon and so forced to have lunch for themselves.
During the afternoon, moms do housework and prepare dinner, and if the case go out for shopping. The youths, instead, do their homework, watch TV, spend time near computer/PlayStation alone or with some friends, and go out in case they have to go to a friend’s home, attend some gym or play some sport. Sometimes, it’s a parent to take them by the car.
Of course, in the late evening the whole family gathers for dinner, after which they all watch TV or teenagers can enjoy again computer or some game.
Generally, parents are not so strict about time to go to bed, and youngsters can stay up late evening, unless it is the whole family that goes to bed asking them to do the same.  They will pay at their own expense, having then to get up early to go to school, thing which will force them, in the future, not to stay awake up late at night.
On Sunday, if there are no commitments, boys and girls are free to do what they want, so, both in the morning and evening, they may go out to go to church or meet friends, while parents could take them to the cinema or a friend’s home if it is not so near their home.
On Sundays, parents take the opportunity to do some work at home, to engage in some hobby, meet friends or relatives, or relax by spending the whole day at home between a good meal and following football games on TV. Usually, the evening is also devoted to visit friends or relatives.

Undoubtedly, there is still a small-discrimination with regard to sex, with boys who are privileged in having more freedom to go out alone or invite both male and females friends at home. A girl who invites a male friend, would put parents in discomfort who, though agree, wouldn’t allow them to stay alone or with closed door, something that boys usually can do, instead!
Here, we are more concerned for daughters than for sons, in the sense that at the beginning of puberty girls already are thinking about a boyfriend and if they are gorgeous will also have many boys wooing them. In general, for some reason, girls are also more confident and precocious than most boys same age, and while good boys aged 14-15 still like to stay at home to play, others boys who are more rascal and untimely spend more time in the street together friends, often going around just with the intent to find a girl with whom make out.
Once the spark is struck, and the girl is in love with him, is quite certain that in the long run the boy gets its way, and unless you do not control your daughter 24 hours a day, sooner or later they will find the opportunity to be alone and even in 10 minutes do what us parents wouldn’t want our girl did at that age.
Under this point of view, from 14 to 17 is the age most critical and dangerous. A girl who is able to keep the virginity till her 18th birthday, probably will remain so until she’s sure of what is doing. Anyway, it is for this reason that unexpected and untimely pregnancies occur precisely in that age group, not so many here, fortunately. Of course, much depends on girl’s character and social context in which she’s living. Little can be done if she is a “siren” and surrounded by many tomcats or coxcombs. Although through no pregnancy (luckily phew!), I know girls who have had intercourse already at 13-14 years, and it is clear that this type of girl then will have no scruple to go ahead having sex with any guy dating her. On the contrary, at that age, many boys are still home to play with toys, watch cartoon and perhaps masturbating alone.
When children get older, over 18 years, it becomes much more difficult for parents to keep up. They want their freedom and cannot help but partying, go out on Saturday and Sunday evening, coming home very late at night. Sometimes you have to push them to devote more time to study or help them to find a job, where they have finished their studies. Nowadays, a child easily can stay with their parents even after his/her 30 years.

In Italy, every worker who has worked up to 65 years, receives a pension in proportion to the contributions. There are many so-called pensions “integrated to the minimum”, where the law has established that the amount of any pension cannot be less than 500 euro per month. So, if both spouses have a pension, life in retirement may be less difficult. Considering that in old age there are less expenses due to child support, personal expenses, partying or luxury. Here, the lives of pensioners is fairly quiet and monotonous. Grandchildren are often the only diversion that pushes grandparents to move and spend more. With crisis and unemployment are often grandparents, though their meager pensions, to help married son or daughter.
The grandmother is often full-time homemaker, spending free time between relatives, friends, church or some hobby. For him, however, things get a little harsher, because he often does not know how to pass the time and the days become all the same. Breakfast, newspaper, a stroll to meet friends around in the square, in a bar or in a social club. Someone pass the time playing cards, bocce, or doing errands for their married offspring who have little free time. If grandparents get the chance will join some organized trip by coach, and if they also are the lucky owner of a house at the sea or in mountains, bought during the long working life, on every holiday they will be there to spend a few days.
Grandparents are often the ones that invite their progeny to eat home (or vice versa), as well as become a sort of nursery for little grandchildren whose parents do not know where to leave them. Here, parents who have definitively broken any relation with their children or vice versa are very few. This can happen sometimes for economic reasons (inheritance), or because of some disagreement arose between the families. The family connection is never interrupted, unless sons have not been forced to leave their hometown. For this reason, concern and anxiety never end…. we start with babies after our wedding, and end up in sharing any issue that affect the family of our progeny.

Now it’s up to you, who live in another country, find the differences between these lifestyles and those belonging to your different culture.

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INTERNET and CHILDREN

Published February 10, 2013 by Tony

INTERNET RESTRICTED FOR CHILDREN?

PARENTAL CONTROL

For years now, the controversy whether children must have free access to Internet is going on. Months ago, there were rumors about the new technology developed by Facebook that would allow (officially) the registration also to under 13. I put the word “officially” in brackets because we know that millions of kids already attend social networks regularly, inputting a false date of birth. From long, Windows gives the possibility to add filters to the browser (for blocking adult contents) or restrict access to the computer by using the users account.
But the question remains, restriction or not?!
As always, various discordant opinions about, and  now I will have my say.

As with everything, it takes common sense, as we must reason with knowledge of the facts and free from any bias, without getting caught by excessive obsessions or easy generalizations.
The first thing that sounds unpleasant here is the word “limitation”, which indicates lack of freedom.
From time immemorial, any “prohibition” and “censorship” were always fought hard, from the freeing of the slaves, to the free sale of alcohol.
How many other things  were “banned” until the last century? Rock music, for example, which for many was considered sinful, encouraging sex and drugs. Woodstock was our reply.
Today it is said that Internet is dangerous for children because of pornography, for talking to strangers and, even worse, for case of enticement. Ok, let’s talk…..

1 – It is well-known that every “no” always gets the opposite effect, increasing curiosity and the desire to transgress. But, let’s analyze the situation in detail, because in addition to the downside, you should consider other possibilities.
2 – In addition to the computer, nowadays internet is easily accessible via tablet, ipad, iphone and any mobile phone. So every parent also should monitor the use of these devices or limit their use, where this could be possible.
3 – Our children are not always at home and, street or stores apart, they are often at classmate and friend’s home. With this in mind, then should parents also forbid to go out or meet up with their friends?
4 – Today, about IT-based, kids are in most cases better prepared and skilled than their parents, so any “block” could easily be removed and put back without anyone noticing.
5 – With regard to the pornography, porno magazines have always existed and will continue to exist, thus obscuring Internet the problem is not entirely solved, provided that the porn is. Millions of kids in the past, myself included, have watched porno magazines and not for this old generations were traumatized or became sick.
6- The last concern, from what I read around, is the soliciting of minors. Apart from the fact that statistics in hand, cases of solicitation over internet represent a very small percentage, but do you relatives really believe that if an adult wants to lure your child he/she can do it only via internet?! Adults that eventually your child can meet on internet are infinitely less than those meet every day at school, on the street or on the bus! The world outside our windows is full of sex, drugs and bad affairs, useless to blame internet. To me it is absurd that parents filter internet and not talk about sex with their children, for instance.
7 – Finally, my last point concerns the nature of your children. Restrictions and prohibitions are of little use if they have a strong and determined character, and if they have made up their mind to do something. By Internet or not, stubborn kids usually manage to experience what they want do, in one way or another. Every parent knows their children, and if the family is healthy and the child has always received a sound education, whose parents are an example, needless to worry. Children already know what is good and what is bad. If we give them confidence in everything they usually do, we must also give it in respect of internet.

For me, every complaint about internet is misplaced and anachronistic. Today, Internet (including social networks) is the opposite of loneliness, boredom, silence and ignorance. Internet, as well as a way to get knowledge, is a window on the world, but please do not forget that  you have others windows at home that are real!
Fortunately, although for parents their children always seem candid, naive and childish, they generally are smarter and more mature than people think.
For comparison, for me restricting the use of the internet is like if we wanted to limit the number of murders by limiting the sale of bullets!
If these 7 points are enough for you, then please, let kids alone, and let’em live their own life without prohibition, limitation or deception.

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Work and Family in Naples

Published January 25, 2013 by Tony

Neapolitans:  Work & Family

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I am against mama’s boys, against too obsessive parent’s attachment towards their children, which limits their freedom and experiences, but it also happens the other way, especially nowadays that both parents are busy with work and various daily commitments.
Parents who leave home early in the morning for work, and in some cases back just long enough to eat, then again to work until evening. The less fortunate are back at home directly in the late evening. Things to do are many, of course, and so parents’ free time must also be used for commitments and commissions, aside from leisure and other outdoor activities.
Result?
They spent very little time with their children, often with a quick hello in the morning and good night before going to bed only. During spare time, also kids have their own commitments, studying, friends or extra-curricular activities, and this shrinks the opportunities for parents and children to meet and stay together. Everyone daily involved in their activities leads, year after year, reduction and cooling of interpersonal relationships, with children who, over time, look to their parents as a simple mandatory presence in their lives, and that, like it or painful,  they still have to apply for any need or permission, and with parents who, instead, look at their kids as one of the reasons they must work, to meet all the expenses that growth, welfare and education imply. There are cases in which parents and children, even seeing every day and sleeping under the same roof, become outsiders, by a simple cohabitation. The ones who do not know needs, issues and expectations of others. The dialogue is condensed to a minimum and when it happens to have to or want to re-establish the normal parent-child relationship, then is too late, and parents realize that, beyond the genetic characteristics, have little in common, by now. If this lack of relation happens in children’s period of life between 10 and 15 years, which corresponds to the period in which kids are most in need of a parental presence, then it even becomes much more difficult to re-establish a close relationship. If it is true what we watch in many films from U.S., the above happens much more frequently in American families, because in Italy and Naples, where I live, such situations are infrequent. This probably is another difference between you and us.
Thanks to American films, we come to know about lifestyle of you overseas’ people, and often we see that relationship between adolescents and parents are not among the best. Parents too busy with work and commitments and boys now accustomed to fend for themselves. Just the opposite of what I said at the beginning of this post. This leads us to assume that work and some commitments have a significant part in your life. This is not to say that work or hobbies are nor important and necessary, indeed, but probably you Americans give them a different priority, compared with we Neapolitans.
For us, family and children come before anything else.
scugnizziBut to understand this, it is necessary for me to say something about work and Neapolitan people’s mindset.

In the past it was common to point to Naples citizens as one of those who did not like to work, slackers and malingerers. A cliché that for long any Napoletano has been labelled, especially from Northern Italy’s fellows.
As always, the southern regions of Italy have had less industries and infrastructure than North, therefore, fewer jobs and opportunities for businesses, which over the years has produced a high rate of unemployment. Every day, many people left the house in the morning looking for a job, trying to get by,  remedy and bring “nu piezze ‘e pane” (a piece of bread) at home, at least. For this reason Neapolitans have become famous for their ability to adapt, to have invented the oddest and unimaginable jobs, just to survive poverty. Even today, here the unemployment rate is one of the highest in Italy, but that does not mean we don’t like to work or snub the job. Although to be honest, apart from a few cases, I wonder who of you like to work really?
Neapolitans when they can, get a break from work to being at home, and if must be absent form work for family reasons, they do so without too much trouble. For women, this need is even greater, and here in the south there are still many women who don’t work and devote their lives to family and home. In this regard, I should make a distinction between wealthy families, middle and poor class.
Rich families such as the poor are the ones that usually allow more freedom to their children. Poor families’ children already at an early age are accustomed to being alone, to spend more time in the streets and fend for themselves. They are the heirs of the famous “scugnizzi” (street urchins) of a time that you can still meet in the hinterland or in the narrow alleys of Naples playing in groups. But these “guaglioni or guagliuni” (boys), as we call them, do not feel their parents absence, in fact, they love freedom and cut the “umbilical cord,” that binds them to their parents, as soon as possible. The low and middle income is not conducive for hobbies or other recreational activities, and apart from moms who stay all day at home, dads like to spend free time at home with their family. Who runs a shop, closes at lunch time (around 13.30) and reopen it at 4 pm,  and then close at 8 – 8,30 pm., while a worker usually works until 5 – 6 in the afternoon. On the other hand, famous are the Neapolitan sentences: “’e figlje so piezze ‘e core” (literally, children are pieces of heart), ” ‘a famiglia è sacra” (family is sacred), “tra moglie e marito non mettere dito” (literally, between wife and husband does not put the finger), and although here parents rarely invest money for the future of their children, woe to those who do them harm.