For a Child, Being Carefree Is Intrinsic to a Well-lived Life
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"Berry Pickers" by Winslow Homer, 1873. Original from The National Gallery of Art/Rawpixel (public domain)
The Other School

For a Child, Being Carefree Is Intrinsic to a Well-lived Life

Luara Ferracioli
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time 5 minutes

Some people are lucky enough to look back at their childhood with affection for a time in life without much stress and anxiety. They might think of long hours spent playing in the backyard free of worry, or pursuing projects and relationships without apprehension or fear. Such tender memories are often in stark contrast to the lives many lead as adults, where stress and anxiety seem to dominate.

The fact that many struggle to be carefree in adulthood raises a number of interesting questions about the relationship between carefreeness and the good life. Is being carefree a special good of childhood? Is it something that confers meaning on the life of a child, without doing the same for adults? Or do adults need to be more carefree, and so be more like children, in order for their lives to go well? Most importantly, if carefreeness is indeed a necessary precondition for a good life, why exactly is that so?

As a parent of two young children, and someone who works on family philosophy, I have recently turned my attention to the question of what it means for childhoods to go well. Thinking about the goods of parental love and

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Go Ahead and Play!
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Drawing from the archives (no. 644/1957)
Science

Go Ahead and Play!

The Benefits of a Playful Childhood
Agnieszka Fiedorowicz

Even if your brain has already lived through the phase of the great synaptic pruning (meaning that you’re an adult), do not neglect playtime. As children play, they learn something new about life, while the adults… well, see for yourselves.

Our new yellow armchair came in a huge cardboard box. Next thing I knew, the kids were pushing the empty box through the door to their room. First, they debated half the day as to what they should do with it. They drew their ideas on paper and argued. Then they grabbed the paints, some crepe paper, glue and scissors. And all of a sudden, we had become the owners of a small space station; on board, our offspring were preparing the conquest of Mars. Then the box was a horse stable. And then a rather squarish Death Star, right after the premiere of the final Star Wars film. After a number of conversions, the box finally gave in when one of the walls rotted through. The children protested a bit, but they finally allowed me to throw the remains in the rubbish. None of the other toys bought in abundance by their grandparents, friends or by ourselves had been able to preoccupy them for so long and so effectively.

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