You might expect that if you spent such an extended period in twelve different households, what you would gather is twelve different ideas about how to raise children: there would be the strict parents and the lax parents and the hyperinvolved parents and the mellow parents and on and on. What Lareau found, however, is something much different. There were only two parenting "philosophies," and they divided almost perfectly along class lines. The wealthier parents raised their kids one way, and the poorer parents raised their kids another way.
The wealthier parents were heavily involved in their children's free time, shuttling them from one activity to the next, quizzing them about their teachers and coaches and teammates... That kind of intensive scheduling was almost entirely absent from the lives of the poor children. (In the poor children's lives) what a child did was considered by his or her parents as something seperate from the adult world and not particularly consequentential.
Lareau calls the middle-class parenting style "concerned cultivation." It's an attempt to actively "foster and assess a child's talents, opinions and skills." Poor parents tend to follow, by contrast, a strategy of "accomplishment of natural growth." They see it as their responsibility to care for their children, but to let them grow and develop on their own.
Lareau stresses that one style isn't morally better than the other. The poorer children were, to her mind, often better behaved, less whiny, more creative in making use of their own time, and had a well-developed sense of independence. But in practical terms, concerted cultivation has enormous advantages. The heavily scheduled middle-class child is exposed to a constantly shifting set of experiences. She learns teamwork and how to cope in highly structured settings. She is taught how to interact comfortably with adults, and to speak up when she needs to....
By contrast the working-class and poor children were characterized by "an emerging sense of distance, distrust, and constraint.
When we seek in a systematic way to educate ourself, by drawing upon both informal and formal sources, and when we creatively produce in our own work assignment, we discover that our job or economic security lies within ourself and not within our circumstances. There is no future in a job. The only future is inside oneself. We look inside rather than outside. We become producers rather than consumers of other people's production. Therefore, we have the security to go into new situations, to take on new challenges and job assignments. We know that we can come to grips with any circumstance and succeed.
I believe in a system of some kind for self-education. It doesn't have to be formal classes or courses. It may be an informal discussion group or a well-conceived reading program. But without some system or external discipline, most adults tend to give up after a good start on something and fall back into old ways.
Is the gaining of knowledge the main purpose of continued education? I don't believe so. The knowledge explosion is so vast and so rapid, no one, giving all his time, could keep up. If it's not knowledge, what then is it? To keep intellectually alive, to renew ourselves, to learn how to learn, how to adapt, how to change, what not to change.
We must develop a felling and competence within that we can "make a go of it" in any situation, regardless of what happens. One main source of this confidence is continuing education.
The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, developes, cultivates and matures all the fine toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It developes beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigour, animation and social feeling. It developes and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.
How foolish, when our young people wait to find love, or to have God show them their foreordained mate, instead of rationally looking at the eligible people and choosing someone who can and will live up to the commitment of marriage, someone with shared faith, someone with whom you can establish friendship and affection.
All marriages are between strangers. And sometimes it's the boring man who'll make the best husband, the plain woman who'll make the best mother.
It takes time to come to know the other person; it take time for each of you to become someone new and different and perfectly adapted to the other. You'll be there through the whole process, though, because your commitment is stronger than the bands of death.
But as that knowledge grows, so does the real love, the deep love. Compared to the thick, strong fabric of married love, romantic love is a Kleenex. You can't make anything out of it. It's disposable -- there's always another in the box.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. In excess, most endeavors and possessions take on the characteristics of their opposite. Thus:
Pacifists become militants.
Freedom fighters become tyrants.
Blessings become curses.
Help becomes hinderance.
More becomes less.
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