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.
Many of you know what I am talking about when I talk of “hosanna moments," those transcendent moments in our lives when, without warning, we are overwhelmed by a close encounter with eternity, a surprise of the spirit–those moments when, while engaged in the temporal rhythms of our daily and earth- encrusted lives, comfortably duped by familiar routines, we are suddenly brought face-to-face with the holy, swept by the Spirit of God into a transcendent reality, overwhelmed by undeniable evidence of a literal Father in Heaven who knows you and knows me and is somehow interested and involved in our lives. The "We'll-Sing-and-We'll-Shout" moment is that moment when our God, Brother-of-Jared-ing us, reaches his hand through the veil to startle our sensibilities, to reassure, to comfort, to guide, to prod, to change our course. Then our spirits soar, our souls are renewed, and we can never really be the same again.
...If we choose to overlook or ignore our community responsibilities, we may well be abdicating control of the influences on our families to others. Our standards and values can be an influence for good in our community-but only when we become involved and share that influence.
We need each other. This means that we should bring everyone into full church membership and into full church fellowship & activity. The fact that the Lord has told us to do it is an indication that he thinks we can do it if we will. We might inquire of ourselves why we don’t.”
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