Monday, April 18, 2005

Parenting: Middle Class vs. Poor

Now this is one interesting article. I wasn't going to post it here for a number of reasons, but my doubts about my parenting abilities lately has me thinking on this topic more and more. The basic argument is, it's the nuclear family that best prepares children for two things, success in this country and passing on that ability to the next generation. The author calls it "The Mission." One thing said about it that really stuck with me:

Missionary skeptics also miss another truth. The Mission aims at far more than promoting children’s self-reliance or ensuring that they make the soccer team or get into an impressive college. The Mission’s deepest ideal is the pursuit of happiness. In their minivan runs to swim meets and choir practices, middle-class parents are giving their children a chance to discover their talents, as well as to learn the self-discipline that makes those talents shine. In the best scenario, the project leads not only to satisfying work lives, but to full self-development and self-cultivation.

The Mission aims to pass on to the next generation the rich vision of human possibility inherent in the American project, and to enlist them into passing down that vision to yet another generation, in what sociologists used to call “the reproduction of society.” What goes around, comes around.

It's the "what goes around, comes around" that really struck a chord. Mostly thanks to the Geekwife, we're doing a pretty good job on most of this stuff. I think I'm seeing connections to some of the other issues around parenting as well, certainly the attempts to control children's submerssion in the media environment. Interesting stuff. So while some of my methods may be failing, my goals, and the Geekwife's, are on track: school comes first, self-discipline and responsibility, supporting their efforts in outside activities, reading to them (or even around them), active involvement in making sure they get enough sleep. It does make you feel like you're not going to mess them up too badly.

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