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Unequal Childhoods Essay Typer

Caixia Lin

Professor Steven Alvarez

English 110

3 May 2010

Social Structure: Concerted Cultivation and Natural Growth in Annette Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods

       In Unequal Childhoods, Annette Lareau points out two ways for parents to rear their children, concerted cultivation and the accomplishment of natural growth. Middle-class parents engage in concerted cultivation. By contrast, working-class and poor parents tend to undertake the accomplishment of natural growth. As the middle-class parents do not have economic constraints, parents can sign up their children for many activities and explore their interests and cultivate their talents. However, as formidable economic constraints, working-class parents do not have ability to sign up their children for activities. In addition, the boundary between adults and children appear more often in working-class families.

       As Middle-class parents have the good living environment provide to their children, middle-class parents tried to dominate their children’s life. Middle-class parents model a kind of sense of entitlement in their children. In addition, middle-class parents address children to question adults and look them as equal. According to Lareau:

Middle-class parents engage in a process of concerted cultivation. From this, a robust sense of entitlement takes root in the children. This sense of entitlement plays an especially important role in institutional settings, where middle-class children learn to question adults and address them as relative equals. (Lareau 2)

Middle-class families have economic support and they can sign up their children for more activities. They dominate children’s life, make children to learn these or those. However, children will learn many experiences from those activities. For example, those activities help teach them organizing abilities, competitive advantages and confidence. Those experiences benefit their futures to have better jobs and better survival in their fields. The sense of entitlement plays important role in institutional settings. As Lareau wrote “sense of entitlement plays important role in institutional settings. The institution means an organization founded and untied for a specific purpose. When I talked with my father I rarely looked at his eyes because I am afraid of my father. Lareau said there is not a clear boundary between adults and children in middle-class; however, I did not have this kind of sense in my family. In my family, children have to listen to adults, whatever adults ask to do. When I got sick, my parents took me to see a doctor. They communicated with the doctor; they never ask me to answer the doctor’s question, and I did not the doctor’s question either. Therefore, I lack of sense of entitlement to question adults.

       Working-class and poor families have the economic constraints; the parents did not have abilities to sign up their children for activities. Since working-class and poor parents have low education, they did not know how to cultivate their children. Working-class and poor families’ children have more leisure time than middle-class families’ children. According to Lareau:

In the accomplishment of natural growth, children experience long stretches of leisure time, child-initiated play, clear boundaries between adults and children, and daily interactions with kin. Working-class and poor children, despite tremendous economic strain, often have more “childlike” lives, with autonomy from adults and control over their extended leisure time. (3-4)

As Lareau describes the accomplishment of natural growth, I had long stretches of leisure time. Since I only had one after school activity on each Saturday morning, I had more free time to do what I wanted to do. In my free time, I always played with my neighbors. We initiated many games by ourselves, and we had great fun. Absolutely, the boundary between adults and children appears more often in the working-class family. I never question adults nor address them as my friends. I have to respect them. In addition, I seldom make jokes and I spoke a little in front of my senior class. However, I had a lot of words when with my friends. I interacted with kinship a lot. We lived close to each other. We saw each other almost every day. I came to their house, or they came to my house regularly. Even though the economic strains, I had a great fun in my childhood. I could control my leisure time. I could play with my playmates, and organize our own activities. My parents did not need to interfere with my leisure time. I had more freedom than middle-class children.

       In different forms of child rearing reproduce different advantages transmitted that can be useful in different situations. Children developed how much vocabularies depend on parents or what kind of living environment. In different classes, different backgrounds, different families, children receive different rearing. Those differences effect the children developed skill differences in communicating with authority figures in social and at home. According to Lareau:

What is the outcome of these different philosophies and approaches to child rearing? Quite simply, they appear to lead to the transmission of differential advantages to children. In this study, there was quite a bit more talking in middle-class homes than in working-class and poor homes, leading to the development of greater verbal agility, larger vocabularies, more comfort with authority figures, and more familiarity with abstract concepts. Importantly, children also developed skill differences in interacting with authority figures in institutions and at home. (5)

Comparing the middle class and working class, middle-class families tend to talk more than working-class families. Middle-class parents encourage their children to talk more. They ask questions to their children, and attempt to force their children to speak. For example, in Unequal Childhoods, middle-class child Alexander Williams learns how to summarize the situation about his sports activities to his parents. When Alexander went to see a doctor, his mother asked him to question the doctor and talk to the doctor by himself. His parents also teach him new vocabulary words to describe something. However, in my family, because my parents have lower education, they could not help me with my homework. Therefore, I had to finish it by myself. They talked to me just in common words; they never use professional vocabularies. We rarely discussed about what happened in school. They did not really care about how I performed in school, they seldom involved in school activities. But they helped me arrange everything in my daily life. However, Alexander has the sense of entitlement; he knew he has the right to question the doctor, to shake the hands of adults and look them in the eye. By contrast, I did not use my right to question the doctor. I did not look adults in my eye when I communicated with them. Since middle-class parents speak more to their children and force their children to answer questions, they increase their verbal agility, vocabularies, and feel more comfortable with adults. They learned the skills of how to interacting in different situations, such as, at home or in institutions. However, I spoke less with my parents, and I did not like to question and answer adults. I would use less and learned less vocabulary in my daily life.

       The sense of entitlement performed in middle-class. Middle-class parents force their children to look the adults as the relative equals. Children have the confidence to interacting with adults. The sense of entitlement act as one has right to pursue one’s own individual preferences and speak out one’s own opinions. According to Lareau:

The white and Black middle-class children in this study also exhibited an emergent version of the sense of entitlement characteristic of the middle-class. They acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings. They appeared comfortable in these settings; they were open to sharing information and asking for attention. (6)

Middle-class children knew they have the right to pursue what they want. They ask questions when they don’t know what something means. They can judge what rights they have. If they saw something wrong, they will speak out and to correct it. No one can force them to do something. They knew how to reject others. For example, if one asks them to do something, they thought they don’t need to do, or they can reject. If they have confused on something, they will try to figure it out. However, at home or in institutions, children perform the different sense of entitlement. At home, children interacting with their parents as friends, they can share about everything, in school, in some activities. In institutions, children know shake hands with others when they meet at the first time, and children look others in their eyes when they are talking. They like to share things with people. If they want to show something they will ask for others to pay attention on them.

       The sense of constraint showed in the working-class and poor families. Working-class and poor parents less involved in their children’s school situations. They did not take their rights to pursue what they want. They always accept advice from others, but not try to figure it out by themselves. According to Lareau:

In working-class and poor children, by contrast, showed an emerging sense of constraint in their interactions in institutional settings. They were less likely try to customize interactions to suit their own preferences. Like their parents, the children accepted the actions of persons in authority. Working-class and poor parents sometimes were not as aware of their children’s school situations. (6)

Working-class and poor parents less involved in their children’s school life. They less communicates with teachers, they do not know how did their children performed in school, good or bad. If the children received the low grade, the parents could blame their children. But if in middle-class, the middle-class parents could talk to teachers to discuss how to improve their children’s grade. When I got low grades, my parents always said that I need to improve. They did not discuss why I got low grades. When I got in troubles in school, they never know about that. For example, some boys like to made jokes of me and made me cry. But I never told my parents about that, I did not want them get involved of it. I did not talk to the teachers either. My parents and I performed in sense of constraint.

       A society characterized by considerable gaps in increases social stratification. Highly valued resources, such as, the possession of wealth, having on interesting, well paying and complex jobs; having a good education and owning a home, are not evenly distributions throughout the society. According to Lareau:

Perhaps two-thirds of the members of society ultimately reproduce their parents’ level of educational attainment, while about one-third take a different path. Still, there is no question that we live in a society characterized by considerable gaps in resources or, put differently, by substantial inequality. (8)

Most of the parents have the low education, including my parents which performed in working-class and poor families. High education parents involved in middle-class. In different classes showed different levels of education. Because the social exist the inequality, most of the people have no chance to get high education. They have the economic constraints; they have to work to support the families. My parents were born in working-class; they have no chance to get high education. They went to work in their early ages. They worked hard to support our family. They provided the chance to my brother and me to get to school, get education. The social inequality effect everyone has the different ways of living.

       When I interviewed with my mother about my childhood, we got the same ideas that I experienced natural growth. She said she did not have high education, she did not know how to cultivate me. Just let me grow, just enjoy my childhood. I feel more comfortable with natural growth than concerted cultivation. I don’t want my parents to dominate my life. I want to have more free time to do what I want to do. I’d like play with my friends. I don’t like compete with others. I don’t want to exhaust of my life.

Works Cited

Lareau, Annette. Unequal Childhoods: class, race, and family life. United States: the Regents of the University of California, 2003. Print.


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