Unequal Childhoods Book Review

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Unequal Childhoods is a book by Annette Lareau. It looks in the lives of 12 different families to study how class impacts children and how their parents raise them. The working/poor-class and middle-class families acted as the focus of the study. In addition to economic class, she made sure to have multiple races represented as well. There were at least two Black middle-class families that she studied, and two white working/poor-class families. Race was not the only factor that she wanted variety with, there was difference in the amount of children a family had and the parent structure as well. Two kids, in both economic classes, were only children, others had two or three other siblings. However, all the middle-class families studied had both …show more content…
Concerted cultivation is a term associated with the middle-class; this is how the parents are choosing to raise their children. It involves organized activities, taking adult instruction and critiques, and develops a sense of entitlement within these young children. Middle-class children feel as though they can make their preferences heard, question authority figures, act comfortably in institutional settings, like the doctor’s office, and have a sense of control over situations involving adults (Lareau, 2011, p. 6). The other term, accomplishment of natural growth is paired with the working/poor-class families. This term refers to how children lounge around for long periods of time, they do not have every other hour of their day planned like middle-class children. The calendar is not a central piece in their lives or their parents’ lives. They are not in contact with adults as much when they do participate in activities because it is child-directed play, and there is no sense of entitlement that develops. Rather it is mistrust and distance from institutions that comes out. Children do not make commands, question authority figures, or direct a situation in any institutional setting or at home. There are clear boundaries that children follow without question. There is also a …show more content…
First is that concerted cultivation is the child-rearing method preferred by institutions. However, not every family can afford to spend $4,000 alone on one child’s activities in one year. Parents of the working/poor-class have a huge distance and distrust of institutions because of this. They begin to feel too inferior and inadequate to understand what’s going on in their child’s classroom. Although some working/poor class families could “give a piece of their mind” to the landlord, they were practically dead silent in the doctor’s office or at back to school night (Lareau, 2011). The second takeaway is that middle-class family time happens in the car from activity to activity. Going along with that, the higher the mother’s education is, the less likely it is that the child will have contact with relatives (Lareau, 2011, p. 340). Family is just not a part of the middle-class life like it is for working/poor class. Also the sense of entitlement that develops can do more harm than good. Kids of concerted cultivation do not learn that they cannot get everything they want because they can afford it; like in the case of the Marshalls. The talented-and-gifted program did not accept Stacey and her sister based on their own merit at first. It was Mrs. Marshall, their, mother, that paid $200 to have her daughters tested privately, they eventually gained admittance into the program. Lareau points out that once

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