Readers Write: Family dinners are good investment; Both GOP and Dems lean right
Letters to the Editor for the August 6, 2012 weekly print issue: Family dinners at home cost less, are more nutritious, teach children verbal skills, and build connections. American political parties aren't governing from the extremes; they're both governing from the right.
Family dinners are a good investment
Regarding the June 25 cover story, "Back to the dinner table": A family dining together at home is an investment in several ways. First, foods purchased, then cooked and served at home cost less and are often more nutritious. Second, dinners at home nurture family connections.
When I was a young child, all in my family were expected to come to the dinner table with two things to share: something learned that day and some event, story, or observation. This practice provides many benefits: value in daily living, language development, practice in speaking, recognition by others.
A child might say something very simple like, "Jimmy has a new bike." Additional questions can prompt recall and encourage more detail: "What color is it?" "How far did he ride?" More than the child's speech is encouraged; personal contribution is acknowledged. All family members have a "turn" and learn about each other's experiences that day.
Both political parties lean right
I find it frustrating that commentators consistently write that America's two political parties are governing from the extremes. Amy Black echoes this idea in her July 2 commentary, "The dawn of a new independents day." True, the Republican Party has drifted to the extreme right over the past few decades. In the 1950s and '60s, the party cared about workers and the environment. When I became old enough to vote, I tended to vote Republican.
But the Democratic Party has also drifted to the right. As Ms. Black states: "A majority of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say their party is doing only a fair or poor job of standing up for its traditional positions." How can the Democratic Party be operating in the extreme left when its own constituents feel as if they have been forgotten?
They feel left out because the Democratic Party has made so many concessions to Republicans that the normal Democratic constituents feel as if no one is representing them anymore. In many ways, the Democratic Party of today is further to the right than the Republican Party was a few decades ago.
If both parties are governing from the extremes, it is to the extreme right for both, which does not bode well for a large portion of the population.