...the hard work and poverty of my childhood ... turned out to be my greatest asset in later years. Nothing could ever seem too hard after that.
(Sue Sanders, U.S. oil producer. Our Common Herd, ch. 30 (1940).
Through the death of her father when she was five and marriage to a luckless farmer when she was fourteen, Sanders had experienced great financial and emotional stress. Separating from her husband at age eighteen, with their two babies in tow, she went on to become a successful businesswoman.)
Someone said: "I have been prejudiced against myself from my earliest childhood: hence I find some truth in all blame and some stupidity in all praise. I generally estimate praise too poorly and blame too highly."
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 2, p. 665, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). The Wanderer and His Shadow, aphorism 262, "Prejudiced," (1880).)
To be a social success, do not act pathetic, arrogant, or bored. Do not discuss your unhappy childhood, your visit to the dentist, the shortcomings of your cleaning woman, the state of your bowels, or your spouse's bad habits. You will be thought a paragon (or perhaps a monster) of good behavior.
(Mason Cooley (b. 1927), U.S. aphorist. City Aphorisms, Tenth Selection, New York (1992).)
Parenthood brings profound pleasure and satisfactionsthe unparalleled pleasure of caring so intensely for another human being, of watching growth, of reliving childhood, of seeing oneself in a new perspective, and of understanding more about life.
(Ellen Galinsky (20th century), U.S. author and researcher. Between Generations, ch. 2 (1981).)
... no one with a happy childhood ever amounts to much in this world. They are so well adjusted, they never are driven to achieve anything.
(Sue Grafton (b. 1940), U.S. murder mystery novelist. As quoted in the New York Times, p. C10 (August 4, 1994).
Grafton, author of a popular series of detective novels, was the daughter of two alcoholics and described their parenting as "benign neglect.")
Psychiatric enlightenment has begun to debunk the superstition that to manage a machine you must become a machine, and that to raise masters of the machine you must mechanize the impulses of childhood.
(Erik H. Erikson (1904-1994), U.S. psychoanalyst. Childhood and Society, ch. 8 (1950).)
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it.
(J.D. (Jerome David) Salinger (b. 1919), U.S. author. Catcher in the Rye, ch. 1 (1951).
[Children] do not yet lie to themselves and therefore have not entered upon that important tacit agreement which marks admission into the adult world, to wit, that I will respect your lies if you will agree to let mine alone. That unwritten contract is one of the clear dividing lines between the world of childhood and the world of adulthood.
(Leontine Young (20th century), U.S. social worker and author. Life Among the Giants, ch. 2 (1965).)
We attempt to remember our collective American childhood, the way it was, but what we often remember is a combination of real past, pieces reshaped by bitterness and love, and, of course, the video pastthe portrayals of family life on such television programs as "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" and all the rest.
(Richard Louv (20th century), U.S. journalist, author. Childhood's Future, part 1, ch. 3 (1991).)