Rich Parent, Poor Parent

David Brooks writes today that there are large class differences in parenting styles. These different parent styles may explain the continued success of the upper class. Hey, this fits in very well into the parenting theme week at 11D. Thanks, Davey. (And thanks, Jeremy, for the early morning e-mail.)

David picks up on the work of Annette Lareau who finds that although working class children are more innocent and enjoy more freedom, they haven’t been prepared for economic success as well as upper class kids. (I have copied the whole article below the flap. Take that, Times Select)

The funny thing about academics is that although they are highly educated, they are poorly paid. They are socio-economic anomalies. They either reside as the poor shlubs in wealthy neighborhoods or as the weirdoes in working class towns. We’ve been the class outsiders for my whole life, and I’ve had the chance to observe both life styles closely.

There are huge differences between the parenting styles between the upper and working class families. Poor families respond less quickly to learning problems and are less aggressive with the school bureaucracy. They are less likely to verbally interact with their kids. They are less involved in homework activities. Middle and upper class parents are more likely to reward independent thinking. All those factors will definitely impact on their kids’ futures.

But I hope that Brooks and his pet academic aren’t insinuating that parenting styles alone impact on a child’s economic success. Way too many other factors there. Poor families are also likely to live in towns with poorer schools. Peers will be more troubled. The poor families will be coping with a variety of problems that make it hard to be good parents – financial stress, drug and alcohol problems, lack of health care, depression. And really smart kids can in many instances over come all that and succeed, though even the smart ones still face obstacles. I would love to know if the researchers controlled for all that.

These parenting differences also don’t negate our obligation to helping these groups reach their potential.

That said, I’m sure that parenting styles are one factor among many that determine a child’s socio-economic future. My kid is already on such a different path from some of his buddies from school. At six years old, their futures are already written on their faces.

What I would like to do is to take the best parts of both parenting practices. Somehow combine the respect for adults, the freedom, and the innocence of working class homes with the value for education, the aggressive independence, and confidence of the upper class. It’s a tricky line to navigate, but that’s what I’m going for.

Brooks:

For the past two decades, Annette Lareau has embedded herself in American families. She and her researchers have sat on living room floors as families went about their business, ridden in back seats as families drove hither and yon.

Lareau’s work is well known among sociologists, but neglected by the popular media. And that’s a shame because through her close observations and careful writings — in books like “Unequal Childhoods” — Lareau has been able to capture the texture of inequality in America. She’s described how radically child-rearing techniques in upper-middle-class homes differ from those in working-class and poor homes, and what this means for the prospects of the kids inside.

The thing you learn from her work is that it’s wrong to say good parents raise successful kids and bad parents raise unsuccessful ones. The story is more complicated than that.

Looking at upper-middle-class homes, Lareau describes a parenting style that many of us ridicule but do not renounce. This involves enrolling kids in large numbers of adult-supervised activities and driving them from place to place. Parents are deeply involved in all aspects of their children’s lives. They make concerted efforts to provide learning experiences.

Home life involves a lot of talk and verbal jousting. Parents tend to reason with their children, not give them orders. They present “choices” and then subtly influence the decisions their kids make. Kids feel free to pass judgment on adults, express themselves and even tell their siblings they hate them when they’re angry.

The pace is exhausting. Fights about homework can be titanic. But children raised in this way know how to navigate the world of organized institutions. They know how to talk casually with adults, how to use words to shape how people view them, how to perform before audiences and look people in the eye to make a good first impression.

Working-class child-rearing is different, Lareau writes. In these homes, there tends to be a much starker boundary between the adult world and the children’s world. Parents think that the cares of adulthood will come soon enough and that children should be left alone to organize their own playtime. When a girl asks her mother to help her build a dollhouse out of boxes, the mother says no, “casually and without guilt,” because playtime is deemed to be inconsequential — a child’s sphere, not an adult’s.

Lareau says working-class children seem more relaxed and vibrant, and have more intimate contact with their extended families. “Whining, which was pervasive in middle-class homes, was rare in working-class and poor ones,” she writes.

But these children were not as well prepared for the world of organizations and adulthood. There was much less talk in the working-class homes. Parents were more likely to issue brusque orders, not give explanations. Children, like their parents, were easily intimidated by and pushed around by verbally dexterous teachers and doctors. Middle-class kids felt entitled to individual treatment when entering the wider world, but working-class kids felt constrained and tongue-tied.

The children Lareau describes in her book were playful 10-year-olds. Now they’re in their early 20’s, and their destinies are as you’d have predicted. The perhaps overprogrammed middle-class kids got into good colleges and are heading for careers as doctors and other professionals. The working-class kids are not doing well. The little girl who built dollhouses had a severe drug problem from ages 12 to 17. She had a child outside wedlock, a baby she gave away because she was afraid she would hurt the child. She now cleans houses with her mother.

Lareau told me that when she was doing the book, the working-class kids seemed younger; they got more excited by things like going out for pizza. Now the working-class kids seem older; they’ve seen and suffered more.

But the point is that the working-class parents were not bad parents. In a perhaps more old-fashioned manner, they were attentive. They taught right from wrong. In some ways they raised their kids in a healthier atmosphere. (When presented with the schedules of the more affluent families, they thought such a life would just make kids sad.)

But they did not prepare their kids for a world in which verbal skills and the ability to thrive in organizations are so important. To help the worse-off parents, we should raise the earned-income tax credit to lessen their economic stress. But the core issue is that today’s rich don’t exploit the poor; they just outcompete them.

60 thoughts on “Rich Parent, Poor Parent

  1. I absolutely agree with you on the part about academic families either being the poor ones in the wealthy neighborhood or the weirdos in the poor neighborhood. I grew up in an academic hothouse, and have found that most other people do not and cannot see the world in the same way. This just makes it harder to fit in, if you did grow up this way.

  2. Interesting piece. But because, as you have already pointed out, there are so many other factors which may affect “outcomes” for a child, I’m a bit skeptical of the findings here. I’m tempted to trot out the old “correlation is not causation” line, too. How does Lareau establish a causal link between parenting style and the child’s success? Is there some control group where upper-middle-class parents use a “working class” parenting style and vice-versa?
    Also, I’m not sure about this, but some aspects of the upper middle class parenting style (driving kids to lots of adult-supervised activities, reasoning with them about discipline, etc.) seem like they might be rather new; that is, they seem less likely to have been the case, say, thirty or forty years ago. Do parenting styles change over time? Have the differences in parenting styles between classes “hardened” somewhat in the last few decades? Those are questions I’d like to see Lareau answer.

  3. Thanks for posting this one! These class differences in child raising style are real, and very little talked about, perhaps because of the taboo nature of the subject. Given what we know about the upper middle class’s child-raising customs, it’s hard to see how any child raised outside that charmed circle can possibly make up the resource gap produced by attentive parents, good schools, and a manic after school schedule. However, as Laura has discovered, the parents aren’t always that attentive.

  4. Kate Marie,
    I think it’s indisputable that elite parenting style has changed numerous times over the past century (see Lileks’s Mommy Knows Worst for documentary evidence). However, some of the developments tend to cancel each other out. We contemporary mothers pride ourselves on our warm, child-centered, non-violent approach. We also have smaller families than in the past, which enables us to lavish care upon children who in the past would have been in charge of other children and/or working for a living. However, we often cancel out the benefits of the small family by sending kids to daycare, where they spend the day in a large group! Likewise, although contemporary parents are much more involved in the minutiae of their kids’ lives than in the past (organizing playdates, etc.), some of this involvement actually cuts down on time for parents and kids to interact with each other. If you are watching a child play soccer, you aren’t directly interacting with her! Also, extracurricular activities are hard on such traditional rituals as the family dinner.

  5. So, it seems that, according to the logic of David Brooks, poverty, educational and health care inequality and, I suppose, a host of other social ills are the result of poor parenting by poor people. In other words, it’s their own damn fault and, by the perverse logic of him and other “level fielders,” trying to address these social ills with government programs is a waste of money and effort because poor people and just that way. Brooks even goes so far as to close his article with the statement that “the rich don’t exploit the poor; they just outcompete (sic) them.” (A note to Mr. Brooks: I grew up in a poor inner city school district and knew by the 9th grade that “outcompete” is not a word. And don’t try to claim “poetic license.” That defense of usage errors rests on the assumption that unconventional usage is acceptable when it is more elegant and artful than standard usage. Your use of “outcompete” is simply lazy and crude, leaving you open for easy shots on the “level playing field” of public discourse. Perhaps if your parents were richer you wouldn’t have some lower-middle class SOB like me correcting you.)
    I am not familiar with the work of Annette Lareau,but what Brooks seems to take from her work is that all rich folks raise their children alike, and the same goes for poor people. Any moron, rich or poor, can tell you that is not the case. The social classes are not homogenous demographic blocks–they are comprised of PEOPLE, and they all do things, like raising their children, a little differently.
    As to the notion of “outcompeting,” this assumes that we are all in the same game. Come on now, we all know that the chances of my children even getting into the building were the Bush twins “compete” are slim to none. No, my children will compete on the periphery of the golden halls of you and yours and they will have full and satisfying lives nonetheless. And by God they’ll have the verbal dexterity to do it without having to make up words to express themselves–a trait which I might point out David Brooks shares with our President, a fine specimen of the superior parenting skills of the rich.

  6. However, we often cancel out the benefits of the small family by sending kids to daycare, where they spend the day in a large group!
    Perhaps you’re being too hard on yourself (and others). I would recommend reading the section called “What we know from research” in Jane Waldfogel’s “Social Mobility, Life Chances and the Early Years“. This is a paper published by the London School of Economics’ Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, but Waldfogel is an American working (at least at the time) at Columbia, and the research she cites is all or almost all American.
    But since I know that most humans have far better things to do than read child welfare research papers, here’s a brief summary of what the literature says about childcare for young children:
    1. For kids between one and two, the weight of evidence suggests that there are no adverse effects of maternal employment on cognitive development, but may be some adverse behavioural effects if kids are in poor quality care for long hours.
    2. High quality care for this age group is shown to produce cognitive gains, with no behaviour problems.
    3. Social and emotional developments appear to be enhanced by high quality care.
    4. Children are statistically less likely to get hurt or injured in childcare than at home.
    5. Points one through four are similar for children between three and five.
    6. In all these categories, results tend to be best for the most disadvantaged kids, which would tend to indicate that high quality care offer qualities that are statistically less likely to be found in disadvantaged homes.
    7. However, middle class children certainly do not seem to suffer for being in high quality childcare. (But it’s damn easy to sell books by telling middle class moms that they do.)
    If you like, I’d be happy to point you to more research, or to try to sum some of it up. It’s worth noting, for instance, that the vast majority of Scandinavian children spend considerable amounts of time in childcare, because there is almost full employment amongst Scandinavian mothers, but these children have excellent developmental outcomes – probably enhanced by their childcare experience. Childcare per se is by no means a negative. It’s quality that matters (which of course you allude to when mentioning the size of the group).
    Cheers

  7. Darryl,
    The difference between upper middle class and working class parenting style is real, but of course neither style exists in pure form in the real world. But it’s shorthand for an awfully useful concept. And I bet you are actually a lot more influenced by the upper middle class style than you think! I grew up in semi-blue collar household where both parents spanked. Now I have a family of my own. Many are the times I’ve desperately wanted to smack, but since it’s not done by my current stratum (DC SAHM), I don’t. Both parenting styles have their weaknesses. I think the current upper middle class style can be really wimpy!
    Brooks is moving the conversation forward and addressing a touchy issue, so I think he deserves a lot of praise for that. These cultural issues have to be addressed.

  8. Leap of the Year [or most jarring last sentence non sequitur since he’s been in print]:
    “But the core issue is that today’s rich don’t exploit the poor; they just outcompete them.”

  9. And by God they’ll have the verbal dexterity to do it without having to make up words to express themselves
    Brooks is a simplifying, moralistic ninny, but I’m fairly certain that there’s a fair amount of research (here in the UK, at least) indicating that, on average, middle class parents say far more words to their children than do working class parents, and, probably more importantly, give their children twice as much positive verbal encouragement and reinforcement as working class parents do.
    You may be different, and my working class mom was too, but, on aggregate, middle class kids are getting a better verbal start in life than working class kids are, even controlling for everything else. Verbally, different styles do tend to predominate. And that is going to compound the more significant problem of income inequality, whether we like that fact or not. (Though obviously the key issue is the inequality, and people like Brooks are far too willing to elide over that in favour of moralism and behavioural scolding.)
    And while I’m loathe to get into a debate with you about word coinage, don’t you think that they’ve got to come from somewhere, even if we don’t like the source? “Outcompete” strikes me as a quite excellent word, far less clunky than, say, “compete better than”. And if enough people agree with me, it will become an official word one day; that’s how these things happen, no matter what our ninth grade teachers tell us.
    Cheers

  10. Brooks devoted a chapter in “Bobos in Paradise” to the exact example you use: of the academic who is part of the elite in her educational experiences and who she works with, but has a very, very different paycheck. He gives it one of his cutesy acronyms: “SID – Status-Income Disequilibrium.”
    Now I think you really are his ghostwriter.
    (Any more congruence and you’ll be evicted from the left.)

  11. I don’t buy this. The upper class has had little problem reproducing itself in the past without using the current approved parenting styles. If Annette Lareau would have done her studies in upper and lower class britain of the early twentith century, she would likely say success came from shipping your kids off to boarding schools and that lower class parents are too close and familiar with their kids. Show me the twin studies.

  12. A HUGE thanks to Reuben for his gentle reframing of the small family/big daycare issue. My child is likely never to have a sibling, and doesn’t live close to extended family. I think that daycare, far from undermining the benefits of being in a small family, nicely makes up for the drawbacks of being in a small family. The two opposite experiences complement, rather than undermine each other.

  13. Times Select had this post up all day. I think 1000 new people passed by today. Hey new people!
    Good point, Joe o. As I said, I think that parenting is one of a whole pile of variables that explains why the rich reproduce themselves. Social networks and connections and even old fashioned exploitation are factors.
    But I bet there are probably commonalities between rich parents of today and the past. Aggressive attitude toward bureaucracy and people of authority, optimism about future prospects, stress on verbal skills.
    Dr. Manhattan. Heh. Yeah, I have a lot of the same interests as Brooks. I dated a sociologist when I was at the U of C; he and his buddies were really into the impact of culture on society and politics. Fun stuff.
    But my conclusions are always going to be different from Brooks. Brooks’ columns always seem to end on the same note — If only those silly poor folks changed their stinking thinking, then government wouldn’t have to fork over a dime. Uh, no. The poor need more than soccer practice for their kiddos. He did briefly mention the earned income credit in this column, but we need more more more.

  14. Joe O, I personally wondered about this same issue. Why is this such a recent phenomenon? I have come to the opinion that it’s because coming from a middle-class family no longer assures you a middle-class life. There are just too many people competing for middle-class employment. And, to a certain extent, desegregation and equal employment have put a damper on the kind of “I went to Harvard so my kid’s going to Harvard, and my law firm only hires from Harvard” approach that used to cement middle-class lineage. These days you can be very successful in business, and have tons of money, and it still doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to spare your kids from falling from the middle class. They can’t live in your house forever, unless you’re really really rich.
    I personally have relished the times that I’ve seen some fool whose connections got him into Harvard (or Carnegie-Mellon, or wherever) and who was totally outcompeted in the workplace by a second-generation immigrant, or a woman, or someone who wouldn’t even have made it thru the door 30 years ago but who now is busting their butt and flat-out producing better work. I think it’s a great statement about the fairness of our work world.
    OTOH, I also look at my own kids and I think, wow, it’s a jungle out there. They have to really be able to compete. Maybe I should get them going on Spanish now, when it’s easy to learn. (My kids are 3 and 5.)

  15. I recommend Brooks look at the research of Judith Harris if he is interested in this subject. One study and one point of view do not equal truth in any field, but particularly not in psychology. “The Nurture Assumption” by Ms. Harris is a classic book that takes an exhaustive and clear eyed look at what does and does not influence how children turn out. Parents are revealed to be far less important than our genetic make-up and the influence of peers. This is not information many parents wish to believe, but wanting to believe something does not make it true. Twin studies and studies on adopted children have proved Ms. Harris right conclusively. Studies such as the one Mr. Brooks sight invariably have not controlled for the influence of genetics, the role models or social environment available to upperclass versus working class children.

  16. “They either reside as the poor shlubs in wealthy neighborhoods or as the weirdoes in working class towns.”
    Academics aren’t the only ones in this position. Many people who work for the love of it rather than high profit or basic survival take a large economic hit for that and are considered wierd. Among the people who I know, I’m thinking of small business owners, people in arts professions, people in the restraunt industry, owners of small family farms (mostly horse breeders) and yoga teachers. None of these people are wealthy, and most have enough education to be making twice as much doing something else.

  17. I think that daycare, far from undermining the benefits of being in a small family, nicely makes up for the drawbacks of being in a small family.
    Yes, the same is true for my partner’s lovely, lone-child god daughter, whose social skills (and social happiness) grew by leaps and bounds as soon as she started going to (high quality) daycare. I’m glad your child is having a similarly positive experience.

  18. I have come to the opinion that it’s because coming from a middle-class family no longer assures you a middle-class life.
    Interesting terminology. Statistically speaking, coming from a middle class background is now actually more likely to secure you a middle class income than it was, say, forty years ago. This is true for both the US and the UK, which have both seen class lines harden over the last several decades, whereas the social democratic nations, eg Scandinavia, have seen increases in intergenerational mobility. (The American dream is actually a lot more likely to come true for Swedes, ironically.)
    However, what’s changed in the US (and not in the UK, thankfully) is the quality of that middle class income: as the median wage has stagnated, being middle class has become less economically pleasant than it used to be. (As I’m sure you know, most of the gains in national income have actually gone to the top 1%, with the median wage earner not nearly keeping up.)
    In a sense, a large chunk of the American middle class is suffering a sort of stagflation – ie more likely to be in the same position on the wage distribution graph as there parents were (because there’s less intergenerational mobility than there used to be), but finding that the place they’ve stayed in is actually worse than it was when their parents were there. Like staying in the same house you grew up in, but finding that the neighbourhood (and the house itself) is getting rather more run down than it was when you were a child.

  19. Lareau’s book is brilliant. She is very very clear that it is the interaction between parenting styles and contingent social institutions that has the effect on success in positional competitions. The problem is social institutions, not families.
    She is also extremely (but, in the circumstances, justifiably) non-judgmental about the styles of parenting the parents deploy. Apart from its importance as a sociological study, any parent will leanr a lot about what they are doing right and wrong from it.
    I’ll try to write more about this later, but please don’t be put off the book by Brooks, it is terrific.

  20. Thanks, Harry. Please do write that post.
    The biggest difference that I’ve seen between my neighbors and myself is how we’ve dealt with our kid’s disabilities. I had my kid in the system by 2 and pushed for him to get the most sevices possible. My friend is only getting her son in the system at 7. The school had to start the process for services, but waited far too long. The team meetings have been too intimidating. She said that she didn’t understand the language of the evaluations and they did not offer to translate it for her.
    It’s funny. Brooks left out that whole institutional part of the equation.

  21. In the spirit of Brook’s snarky and poltically motivated last line, he is exploiting the ignorance of his typical reader: He conflates the research with anecdotal evidence and then draws a completely incongruous conclusion regarding vicitimaztion.
    Columns like this do more harm than good.

  22. If you think of Brooks being a smiley face and sweet voice who utters right-wing propaganda in a saccharine tone, his writing makes a lot more sense.

  23. A note to Mr. Brooks: I grew up in a poor inner city school district and knew by the 9th grade that “outcompete” is not a word.
    First citation for “outcompete” in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1873. The OED is beyond the means of most poor inner city schools, however.

  24. I have only read Harry’s and Laura’s posts, not the book. (I hope to rectify this.) But what struck me was the fact that the lower class upbringing described is what I experienced in my upbringing in the 1950s, and my family was squarely middle class. It seemed pretty universal to me at that time and, looking back, also as informed by my knowledge of my adult peers’ childhoods. The only discrepancy I note is that my parents talked to the five of us a lot. That varied a lot among families, I think.
    In other respects (the independence, the clear demarcation of adult’s domain from children’s, minimal structured activity led by adults, and certainly minimal involvement by parents in schools) I think most American kids had that type of childhood prior to recent years.

  25. Agree with some of the comments above that the heavily scheduled, tightly organized childhood of today’s middle class kids is recent and historically specific. Also that it is driven by the rigidification of class boundaries in America and the fear of downward mobility. The society does not have as many shared norms and behaviors as it used to, life outside the gated community is more dangerous, and therefore you work harder to make sure your kid stays inside it. Reuben’s comment above does not contradict this at all. Attempts to come up with a universal as opposed to a historically specific form of upper-class upbringing are silly. As someone said above, elite boading schools hardly fit this model.

  26. MQ,
    I’d say that not only does my earlier comment not contradict what you’re saying, it complements it. To continue your very good analogy, not only is life outside the gated community becoming more dangerous, but life on the edges within that gated community is becoming a dodgier too, so parents are working double hard to make sure that their kids have as many advantages as possible. Because staying in place, intergenerationally speaking, means that your kids are likely to have a worse standard of living than you do.
    Re elite boarding schools, I don’t think the point is that this particularl model of extensive verbal interaction is the end all be all (though, in an issue that Lareau doesn’t address, it may turn out to play a significant role in babies’ cognitive development, which would make it qualitatively different). The point is that, like boarding schools before them, this is a model that middle class parents can and do exploit, to the advantage of their children and the detriment of the poor. Over the course of our lifetimes, a variety of such mechanisms will come and go, but all will be examples of a consistent, underlying phenomenon: the ability of social class to find mechanisms for protecting and reproducing itself. Boarding schools were the way to do it, now living in the suburbs with good schools and cultivating your children’s rhetorical skills is how it’s generally done. And in the future there will be other mechanisms.

  27. It may be a good class and status preservation strategy to “run with the herd” and do more or less what other parents in your class are doing. For instance, if all the other middle-class parents are sending their kids to boarding school and you don’t, your child won’t be on the right track for making useful contacts and getting into an elite university. Likewise, if all the other kids your child’s age are in preschool or daycare, your child who isn’t may find it difficult to find peer companionship. In these cases, the actual content of the boarding schools and preschools is more or less irrelevant.

  28. A few years ago, I read a report on a study of children in a Native American community that had, because of casino windfalls, gone from poor to middle class over a very short period. The study only tracked the kids over a few years, but already the change in their academic performance had been noteworthy, and also, IIRC, the change in their parents’ involvement.
    Sorry I’m too pressed for time to look it up. I would imagine they plan to do regular follow-ups, since the researchers involved seemed almost giddy at the unusual before/after sample the situation had presented them with.

  29. A few years ago, I read a report on a study of children in a Native American community that had, because of casino windfalls, gone from poor to middle class over a very short period. The study only tracked the kids over a few years, but already the change in their academic performance had been noteworthy, and also, IIRC, the change in their parents’ involvement.
    Sorry I’m too pressed for time to look it up. I would imagine they plan to do regular follow-ups, since the researchers involved seemed almost giddy at the unusual before/after sample the situation had presented them with.

  30. Strongly agree with Amy P – and wish Lara hadn’t just teased us so mercilessly with that snippet of info. Will try to find it myself; if I do, I’ll post a link.

  31. Reuben — not so fast on the value of daycare:

    Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Wellbeing
    Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan
    NBER Working Paper No. 11832, December 2005.
    Abstract:
    The growing labor force participation of women with small children in both the U.S. and Canada has led to calls for increased public financing for childcare. The optimality of public financing depends on a host of factors, such as the “crowd-out” of existing childcare arrangements, the impact on female labor supply, and the effects on child well-being.
    The introduction of universal, highly-subsidized childcare in Quebec in the late 1990s provides an opportunity to address these issues. We carefully analyze the impacts of Quebec’s “$5 per day childcare” program on childcare utilization, labor supply, and child (and parent) outcomes in two parent families. We find strong evidence of a shift into new childcare use, although approximately one third of the newly reported use appears to come from women who previously worked and had informal arrangements. The labor supply impact is highly significant, and our measured elasticity of 0.236 is slightly smaller than previous credible estimates.
    Finally, we uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to motor-social skills to illness. Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships.

    See especially Table 1 in this summary of the article.

  32. JE
    Okay, I won’t attempt to dispute this one study; all I would say is that, to the best of my knowledge, reviews of the entire literature on this issue show what I quoted above. On a contentious issue such as this, I’m going to go with a review of dozens of studies, rather than just any one of those studies.
    One note on behavioural issues. My impression is that one of the things some authors do is to see minor increases in aggression levels and announce that childcare causes significant behavioural problems. To me, absent of truly massive increases in aggressive behaviour, this is a red herring. It seems only natural to me that children who spend a lot of time with other children are going to “try out” aggression more than will children who are always at home alone with mummy, just as children who are in childcare are going to try out other forms of social interaction. Note, for instance, that the very same studies will show that children in childcare have more behavioural problems, but also better social (and cognitive, for that matter) skills than those not in childcare. I’m only hypothesising here, but to me, the aggression cited in these studies, so long as it co-exists with the better social skills also cited in them, probably just shows that these children are learning to socialise (for good and bad) at a younger age than those who have less contact with other children. In historical and evolutionary terms, it’s probably also worth noting that the single child households so common today are a huge anomaly. Kids in the past would have spent most or all of their time with their family members while very young (which is different from being in childcare), but they also would have spent lots of time interacting with other children (which is different from being a single child today who spends all his time with mummy and doesnt get a chance to learn interaction until older). Again, though, this is supposition on my part – albeit something I would love to study in the future.
    On a slightly broader note, and acknowledging that cros-national comparisons are tricky, the Nordic nations have extremely high maternal employment rates, and thus loads of kids in daycare – and the developmental outcomes for kids in these nations are very good indeed. Again, though, comparisons between social democracies and more liberal economies can be tricky.
    One more note. Much as the right’s anti-contraception discourse is far more about sex than health, I can’t help but think that a large percentage of the “childcare is bad for our kids; we shouldn’t use it” talk out there is driven more by discourses of moral rectitude than by a desire to achieve good outcomes for everyone involved – and by everyone I mean child, mother and family. Most women in the world do want to work, whether for the money it brings into the household or the added meaning it gives to their lives, or a combination of the two. They want to raise their children very well and spend lots of time with them, but they want or need to have careers, too. The only way that’s possible is through having childcare. It seems to me that, in the absence of overwhelming evidence that childcare wrecks children, we have to look at the overall equation, particularly with respect to the dire effects of poverty on children’s developmental outcomes and life chances. Happy children are necessary, but so is work. So let’s focus our energies on coming up with the best possible equation to maximise happiness for all involved: children, mothers and families. And that equation, on a national level, has to involve childcare, even if only because the vast majority of mothers out there don’t have the economic security to make work an option rather than a necessity.

  33. reuben – my problem with the daycare debate is really the lack of debate. Whenever I come across a study that finds good or bad things about daycare, I’ll link to it, because I find it interesting. When I posted the last daycare study by Penelope Leach, commenters basically shut me down. They said there’s nothing that can be done with daycare, so just go about your business and stop writing about this. I don’t know. That seems just so defeatist and anti-intellectual to me.
    I’m sure that there isn’t anything wrong with high quality daycare. I wonder how many daycare centers in this country would conform with the high quality model found in Sweden. What can we do to improve daycare in our country? With so many people needing to use daycare centers, shouldn’t this be a priority? Shouldn’t let political correctness interfere with progress.
    Also, how can we talk about this topic without demeaning the work of large numbers of men and women who are taking care of their children themselves, while sacrificing their careers and income?

  34. Laura,
    If you’re interested in seeing how it could possibly be done, I would suggest paying a lot of attention to what’s happening in the UK, where this has become a major issue in the last decade and significant strides have been taken. (You may already be watching these developments, of course, but if you’re not, I’d regularly check the Guardian in order to keep tabs on what’s going on.)
    I say this because, while in many respects the UK is not nearly as much like the US as many (lefty, usually) Brits believe, when it comes to child poverty, parental workrates, teen motherhood, and related issues, the UK is actually very similar to the US, and very different from the rest of Europe. And under Blair, the UK has made some very serious strides both in fighting child poverty and in working towards better work-life balance. The UK also has a stated goal of getting 70% of mothers working by 2010 or so (from only about 41% in the mid-90s), and, unlike the US, of trying to pull them into work through providing the childcare that enables mothers to feel okay about where they are leaving their children, not just push them into work through economic necessity.
    There is still a very long way to go over here, but great strides have been made since Blair came into office. It should also be noted that many of the policies enacted over here, eg the welfare to work programme and earned income tax credits, were originally US policies, which the Brits went to the US to study, then came back and tweaked (inevitably by making them less punitive). Obviously GW Bush would never strive to learn from the Brits, but maybe a Democrat would, particularly since, when Clinton was in office, there was a lot of contact between policymakers in New Labour and those working for the Dems.
    It’ll be much harder going in the US than it has been over here, and will take longer, but if people agitate, and the Dems can get and hold power, I think it is possible that changes can be made.
    That’s the optimistic side. On a more pessimistic note, should my British partner and I (I’m American) be lucky enough to have children, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that we’ll raise them in the US, short of winning the lottery. But that doesn’t mean that things can’t get better over there.

  35. Thanks, Reuben. Why is that when it comes to family politics and practices, Europe is leap years ahead of us?
    Daycare in this country isn’t universally bad. My little niece is thriving in one right now. Trouble is that these great programs aren’t affordable for enough people, people work more hours in US and have to keep the kids in them for too long, and there isn’t enough push to keep improving daycare.

  36. Reuben — I may be wrong, as I haven’t studied the literature in great detail, but do most of these studies control for selection effects? That is: Women who work may tend to be richer, and to have kids who are going to look better than poor kids on a number of dimensions, no matter what the daycare situation. Or, perhaps people who have especially troublesome children that get kicked out of daycare end up staying home with the kids, thus distorting the results achieved by “at-home parents.”
    In other words, if you take a static picture of kids-in-daycare versus kids-at-home, it’s hard to tell whether you’re viewing a result of daycare, or whether you’re viewing a result caused by any of the dozens of other factors involved.
    Seems to me that the Quebec study — which apparently takes a before-and-after picture of a large shift into daycare arrangements — allows one to have a much better idea of what happens to kids when they are moved into daycare.
    Anyway, the pro-daycare point of view seems oddly dismissive towards mothers and fathers. It amounts to telling a parent, “You can stay home and focus on your child, teaching your child the alphabet and reading books, taking your child to museums and parks, going for walks in the woods, etc., and nothing that you do is going to be superior to what some 22-year-old college dropout can do even though she has 15 kids cooped up in a room and has a hard time just keeping up with the diaper changes.”
    Really? Why does anyone find such a view plausible? I mean, I believe that kids are resilient and a lot of kids will turn out alright even if you lock them in a basement. But I just don’t get why we can’t say that a parent’s devoted love and attention is worth more than having some hired help give your child maybe 30 minutes of attention in a day.

  37. Reuben,
    Here are a bunch of points. Sorry for the nitpicking! I appreciate your knowledge, but I feel that a bit of mom-in-the-trenches info might help.
    1. I think you aren’t paying enough attention to the differences between children of different ages. A non-mobile infant, a mobile infant, a beginning toddler, a two year old, and a three year old have entirely different behavior and different needs. Also, while I know practically nothing about the Swedish daycare system, I believe that the standard is 18 months parental leave, and then placement in daycare.
    2. The two child family is the American norm.
    3. I think that when you compare the group experience to a child’s being “home alone with mummy” you are constructing a straw man. At least in the US, SAHMs do playgroups, spend hours and hours at the park, do Gymboree, do other classes, etc. You would be very hard-pressed to find a healthy American middle-class toddler who spends all his time at home alone with mom.
    4. In some of your posts, you write as if daycare was the only childcare option. It isn’t.
    5. While you mention that children are less likely to be injured at daycare, you don’t talk about the issue of infection in the group setting. Our daughter is in her first year of half-day preschool, and all four of us have spent the past six months battling rolling infections and viruses. Our infant spent the night at the hospital on an IV recently because of dehydration from a bug (probably rotavirus), and his big sister had her own visit to the Emergency Room a week later to spend a couple hours on an IV. It was unutterably miserable, and we are seriously considering taking our three-year-old out of preschool, since she tends to miss at least two days out of five anyway. There’s a reason why the doctors at our large pediatric practice always ask if a child is in daycare!
    6. That’s all. I just wanted to add that this post comes to you courtesy of our intelligent and super-capable college student babysitter, who is with both kids right now.

  38. Any aggression perceived in this post may be attributable to the fact that I myself was in daycare from the age of one…. I gently suggest that it is not “plausible” to define the daycare universe as 15 kids cooped up in a room with 1 teacher who cannot keep up with diaper changes. Nor is entirely fair to compare the bad daycare scenario of a 15-to-1 ratio in one room (which would not pass licensing standards in most jurisdictions) to the delightful, and certainly enriching parenting scenario of walks in the woods, books, museums, and parks.
    In my experience, the child/teacher ratios in daycare are between 3 to 1 and 5 to 1–the higher ratios being in older classrooms run on the Montessori, big-kids-teach-little-kids model. I’m not sure what the NAEYC standards are. The teachers have a range of qualifications, some of my child’s teachers have college degrees, some are getting their degrees, some are high school graduates with years of experience.
    And, hey, if we want to raise the specter of an overworked young drop-out, take my grandmother: she barely made it out of high school (bad at math), had two kids under age two at 20, and was effectively a single mother because my grandfather was posted far away during WWII. And she lived 100 miles from woods and museums. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? So there’s a lot of different ways to use words for situations that may not capture the texture and experience of the situations.
    I’m an average parent, my child has great daycare. I think he wins in the current situation, or at least comes out even. Disparage me and my limitations and justifications at will. And as my hero Reuben mentioned a few postings up, having me in the workforce and our child in daycare is better for our entire family–including my husband/my child’s father. Can someone please mention what it feels like for someone to be the sole source of income for the family? My husband couldn’t stand it and the short time in which he did it created strong resentements that did not contribute to a happy household. I couldn’t stand it if he decided to drop out of the paid workforce and make me solely responsible for our financial wellbeing. We’re all in this together.
    So, I’m not trying to say anything disparaging about the very difficult and rewarding work that parents do when they teach their children the alphabet, go on walks, go to museums, and create a rich and loving and better-than-daycare environment. I am trying (along with aforementioned hero Reuben) to carve out a space that says, in many families, daycare is one of the factors that contributes to the maximum happiness of the entire family, and other arrangements would make the family worse off–not even monetarily, but in other ways.

  39. Hold on, guys. I’ll make this into a post, sum up everyone’s points, and bring in more people to the debate. Just as long as everyone places nice.
    It will be up later tonight.

  40. JE Meyer, I think that we should all keep in mind that parents who use day care still read to their kids, go to the park, go to museums, etc. Sometimes they do quite a bit of those things, perhaps even near as much as SAHM and SAHDs do. And those parents who do stay at home spend plenty of time doing non-enriching stuff, too. So it’s not that stark a contrast. We can simply schedule the same enriching activities you do during the day for the time we do have with our children. After all, we have evenings, weekends, and holidays with our kids! It’s not like we don’t spend gobs of time with them.
    I think it’s also worth adding to the debate that kids are different from each other. Sometimes I think that the conflicts arise from the fact that we each have different sets of kids, and we assume our kids are like everyone else’s. I had a first child who loved day care. She loved the social environment, as she is an extravert, with two introverted parents. She was also really good at being in the school environment, and thrived at the positive feedback she received as a result. One of my younger children does not like it as much, perhaps because she doesn’t follow instructions as well, so I feel much more guilt about taking her. If she were unhappy more of the time (about once every three weeks, she says she doesn’t want to go. Now if it were every day, I’d be very upset), I might pull her out. If she were my first child, I might overgeneralize and think that other parents were heartless for keeping their kids in childcare. We need to understand that other people’s kids are different from ours, and also, some kids might not be able to handle child care. There need to be arrangements for those kids too.
    Finally, one potential benefit of having two earners that was important to me is that it can enable the father to have more time with his children. Of course, not always. Sometimes the father still is or has to be a workaholic. But this is less likely for two earner families. So children in day care can have MORE attention from their fathers. I know SAHMs whose husbands doen’t come home until 9:00 every night. I am sure there are SAHMs whose husbands work two jobs. We are underestimating the importance of children having access to both parents, and having a family all together at dinnertime, which we have almost every night. We are underestimating the importance of children hearing parental conversation (sophisticated dinner conversation between parents sparks the intellectual interest of children, IMO). We are underestimating the importance of fathers and their love, for both daughters and sons. My children drink up the fatherly attention. It is possible because he is a teacher, and he can be a teacher because I am a professor. If a family can do well on one income, it would be ideal (I know it is virtually never possible, but put that thought aside) for that income to be earned by the half time work of each parent. Our society has to move towards allowing part time work, or three quarter time work, for two income families. Now that would be worth a reduction in income.

  41. OK, sure, I don’t want to overgeneralize. I’m not saying that daycare is a bad thing. It can be very useful in many circumstances, and sometimes it’s the only option.
    But there are things that I find very curious, such as:
    1. Whenever people talk about “quality” daycare, the sorts of things that they describe (extremely low child-to-worker ratio, lots of attention and stimulation, etc.) are all things that are merely trying to mimic what a stay-at-home parent typically does. Daycare is good in proportion to how much it resembles the care given by a parent.
    Shouldn’t that tell you something?
    2. When both parents work, there isn’t as much time to do things with the kids. If both parents are working fulltime, then by definition, they are both spending 40 hours a week (or maybe more) away from the kids. If one parent stayed home, that would be an extra 40 hours with the kids. The fact that you spend a couple of waking hours with the kids on weeknights just isn’t in the same league. Sorry: that’s just reality.

  42. JE, you’re not calculating correctly. A couple of hours? My 4 yr olds are at school from 8:30 to 5:30, but sleep for two hours of the day. That’s 7 hours, times 5=35 hours. I get them 1 and a half in the morning, plus 3 and a half at night (those naps mean they don’t get to sleep that early). That’s 5 hours x 5= 25, plus the weekends, which are, say, eleven hours each day, for a total of 47 waking hours spent with Mom and Dad. Add in the time I am lucky enough to have off (and I know I am very, very lucky) in the summer months, as I am a professor, as well as my husband, a teacher, and 2 weeks at Christmas, and we are with our children far, far more time than their daytime caregivers are. And don’t tell me what league I am in; for four months of the year I am a SAHM: during my summer break. I don’t even send the kids to day camp. I don’t notice that I do appreciably more with the kids, or feel much closer to them, during those times. I am less stressed in the morning, that’s true, but the largest effect is on me. It’s nice to not have to get up early and get everyone dressed. On the other hand, I am more stressed later in the day, when I want a rest from chitter-chatter to have a quick cup of coffee. I take them to the pool a lot, and they wear their swimmies and spend most of their time with each other. I don’t know if they spend a lot more time with ME.
    And I know I am lucky, but women who get only 2-3 weeks of vacation plus 10 days of holidays are still with their children lots of the time. I think the SAH crowd doesn’t really do the math.
    And how does it compare to people like my SIL, who is stay at home, does a fantastic job, but whose husband travels a lot for work and is gone for weeks sometimes? I am not saying that the time spent with children when SAH doesn’t matter, isn’t important, etc. But I don’t see how that sort of situation is clearly better than the one we are in, and yet people don’t suggest that fathers who take jobs that require travelling a lot are somehow making a huge mistake, or that they are not in the “same league” as the other, better parents. Nobody says that these fathers are not raising their own children, or that they are not real parents.

  43. JE Meyer is committing a fallacy by comparing all kinds of daycare, good and bad, to the best possible parent-care situation. Good daycare resembles good parent-care, but not all SAHM/D give good parent-care. Some are busy working from home, or doing housework, or using drugs or alcohol, or simply not attentive and inventive. Some sit the kid in front of the tv for a large portion of day. Some never take the kid outside because the parent doesn’t like being outside (ditto museums, parks, libraries). Some don’t join playgroups, have swim lessons (or music or art or gymboree), set up playdates with other kids.
    A lot of those good experiences are built-in for good daycare, but the parent has to figure it all out for his/herself, has to find those resources and schedule them and arrange transportation and make it happen. Not all parents are up to it, and the ones that can do it aren’t equal in ability.
    So if you’re going to compare, use the entire population of daycare experiences versus the entire population of stay-home parent experiences.

  44. JE Meyer is committing a fallacy by comparing all kinds of daycare, good and bad, to the best possible parent-care situation.
    Well, not exactly: I’m not looking at all kinds of daycare. I’m looking at the best of both worlds, and I’m saying that the best daycare is a very expensive and probably inferior version of what the average stay-at-home parent can do.
    Put it this way: The top 10% of daycare situations would be at the 50th percentile of stay-at-home parents. Just a wild guess on my part, but that’s how it seems to me. So sure, you can find some very bad and negligent parents in that bottom 50%. But still, a loving parent is the ideal, as to which daycare is only a pale imitation.

  45. JE,
    When patting yourself on the back, you might want to try to avoid slapping other people across the face.
    Here are my two main problems with your arguments. One, you are taking a statement about the outcomes of high quality childcare (despite the one study you cite, the vast bulk of the research does say that, on aggregate, developmental outcomes for middle class children in high quality care are neutral or benign, and developmental outcomes for poorer kids are much more positive than if those kids stay at home all the time), putting those study results against your own deeply felt opinions, and concluding that because you feel strongly about something, you must be right. I’m sure what you feel in your heart is worth all the science in the world, but let’s have some evidence, shall we?
    And when presenting that evidence, please bear in mind that almost every child in the Nordic nations spends significant time in childcare (because almost all mothers work), yet Nordic children have the highest developmental outcomes of any other western kids. Are they doing this despite all that childcare? Would they be a race of blond-haired superbeings if only their mummies would quit their jobs?
    Two, you are overlooking the elephant in the room, and the initial topic of this post: socio-economic status. You say that you are looking at the best of both worlds, but no, you’re only looking at the worlds of those privileged enough to choose whether to stay home or not. The majority of the population doesn’t have that choice. They need childcare. And since they need it, the rest of us have an obligation to help them get good childcare. By setting up this false dichotomy of “SAH good, childcare bad or at best mediocre”, you distract attention from the more important issue, which is making sure that, for those who need or want it, good childcare is readily available.
    As several people have said, one an individual or family level, staying at home sometimes works best; in other situations, having your child in high quality care works best. (Having your kid in low quality care is never going to work best.) On a national and international level, when all these individual decisions are aggregated, the vast bulk of high quality evidence indicates that good childcare does not harm children; it’s neutral or even benign – even if you think it wouldn’t be best for your particular children.
    Sorry for the snarky tone of this post, but the thing is, no one is telling you that your way must be worse. But you’re not being at all shy about telling others that their way must be worse than your way. Give me politeness, or give me evidence.

  46. Oh, one other thing, JE – and again, apologies for what I’m sure was a very snarky tone in my last post.
    When you write that
    Whenever people talk about “quality” daycare, the sorts of things that they describe (extremely low child-to-worker ratio, lots of attention and stimulation, etc.) are all things that are merely trying to mimic what a stay-at-home parent typically does. Daycare is good in proportion to how much it resembles the care given by a parent
    you’re missing something. If a childcare facility has, say, four adults looking after 12 kids, then that childcare facility isn’t simply mimicking (sp?) what a child would get from her parents, unless that child is some sort of unreformed Mormon with 11 siblings and four “mummies”. As I noted above, my partner’s already very well-adjusted goddaughter progressed by leaps and bounds when she went into childcare, because she’s very social and loves being around lots of other children and adults for most of the day. In addition to the fabulous stimulation she got at home, she started getting a different type – the kind that can only be provided from playing with one’s peers – at childcare.
    The obvious rejoinder to what i’ve just written is that SAH parents don’t just sit at home with their kids in isolation all day: there are playclubs, group outings, etc. And that’s very true. But if I were to adopt your “my way is clearly better; yours a pale imitation” style, I could say “Ah, playgroups are just an example of parents trying to mimic what children get from daycare.” But that would be silly, because it’s not a contest between the two. It really isn’t.

  47. Reuben,
    You’re still not addressing the question of at what age those Nordic kids start daycare, and the developmental issues associated with children of different ages in group care. Here in the US many, many infants start daycare at 3 months of age. And as I posted elsewhere, the American gold standard for infant care is three babies per caregiver! As anyone who has spent time with an infant can attest, this is not a good idea, particularly since infants have quite minimal needs for peer interaction. Group infant care is a major reason why “daycare” sounds so evil to a lot of people.
    Sorry to keep going after you!

  48. Reuben — you make a lot of good points. But I don’t get this:
    The majority of the population doesn’t have that choice. They need childcare. And since they need it, the rest of us have an obligation to help them get good childcare.
    So you’re talking about a single mother who is a gas station clerk, working the night shift. She makes $15,000 a year. She needs childcare. Yes. So let’s give her high-quality childcare at a cost of $15,000 a year. Whoops: How does that fit with economic or common sense? Why not just give her the money directly, and then she could take care of the kid herself, plus not have to work the night shift at a gas station?

  49. Hi JE
    Excellent question. For part of the answer, please see my post on this thread’s sister (“How do you write about daycare?”) re the extremely complicated financing of childcare (and eldercare, for that matter).
    Re just giving her the money, this would be straight-up redistribution from the better off to the poor, and the American public is far less likely to accept that than it would be to fund a more universal system, where everyone benefits. The latter is inevitably more expensive, but universal programmes almost always get more support – since the politically all important middle class is benefitting too, it is happier to fund the progreamme. For example, social security benefits the poor more than the better off (relatively speaking) but since it manifestly benefits everyone (including the vast american middle class) it has very widespread public support. If it was only means-tested and thus targeted at the poor, it would be much easier for its opponents to weaken support for it.
    Of course, in the US, anything that costs lots of money and seemingly violates the public-private sphere is a tough sell – but with women going into work, the world really has changed, and i think it makes sense to address those realities head on. Throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s in the UK, it was thought that funding universal daycare wasn’t do-able, because childcare is a family’s responsibility, and not something for the state to get involved in. But now, there is universal childcare for ages 3 and up, and it is outrageously popular – with both Labour and the Conservatives exchanging rhetoric over which party is more in favour of high quality care and more work-life balance. Certainly the UK is different from the US in many ways, but in many ways it is very similar, and no one on the right would have believed ten years ago how much support childcare would have now.

  50. Group infant care is a major reason why “daycare” sounds so evil to a lot of people.
    Of course you’re absolutely right on this issue, Amy. The same science that shows that high quality childcare for kids over the age of one is non-detrimental also shows that under-ones are better off with mum or dad. With the antediluvian materntity leave policies in the US, the system is set up to put new parents into an impossible situation. US public policy on this front is a relic of the days when women didn’t work after marriage. Providing universal high quality childcare won’t be enough; the US will also need to catch up with the rest of the OECD with regards to maternal leave. The nation has a long way to go, something that is very evident in how emotional and fraught the dialogue is.
    Good luck.

  51. in what universe do the middle classes go to harvard?? middle class = boarding school = connections = elite university….huh?? what?? This is middle class??
    Go to Harvard or its welfare for you!

  52. Around the Dial: Pot Luck!

    Do you like pot luck parties? I sure do. New food, new flavors, and you can expand your understanding of cooking as you talk to the cooks. In the spirit of pot-luck, I encourage you to sample whatever you’re not familiar with – it’s all good! (*Cringe* Di

  53. 1. Whenever people talk about “quality” daycare, the sorts of things that they describe (extremely low child-to-worker ratio, lots of attention and stimulation, etc.) are all things that are merely trying to mimic what a stay-at-home parent typically does. Daycare is good in proportion to how much it resembles the care given by a parent.
    Shouldn’t that tell you something?

    We’d chose daycare because it also provides socialization opportunities. And, since Brooks is mostly angry with women who can afford not to work, I should also mention that it provides mothers with the ability to feel fulfilled by their lives, which absolutely benefits the child. I’ve seen the effects of resentful mothers on children; heck, I was raised by someone who grudingly gave up a successful career because that’s what nice middle class women did back then.
    I think certain qualities of a child’s SAHP experience are beneficial, yes, and we will pay dearly for those qualities in a daycare when we have a child. But there’s a lower threshold at which the experience moves from “small ratio” to isolating.

  54. I agree with the findings. I have been fortunate enough to be raised in a working class family with a uppper class pay check. Some parents have working class jobs that have upper class salaries. The findings that I have read are right on the money. Even though my parents made at least $300,000 a year they still raised us just as they were raised. I don’t think they knew how to raise us any other way. That is my dilemma today with our daughter. I am in the military and and make less than my parents did. Im trying to raise our daughter the way an upper class parent would raise their child. I find it hard because of the unknown. There seems to be a secret society that exists to keep the upper class, upper class. Most important to keep the middle and lower class staying middle and lower class. I remember times going to buy a present for my mother with dad and he was in his dirty working clothes. We would go to Coach to buy a handbag and my father would get the worst possible looks a human could get. He was told “the bag is very expensive” as if he could not afford it cause the way he looks. Well, my dad would pull out 10 one hundred dollar bills and slam it down on the table and would buy the most expensive bag they had. What I am learning more and more is that looks and how you speak is just as important to how you look. I find some things very disturbing about upper class parenting. The are not very warm with their children. Every weekend we go to breakfast in a wealthy area and my wife and I are amazed how cold the parents are with their children. The emotional level is almost none existent between parent and child. We always kiss and hug our daughter all day long and notice its not common in most of the families in this area. I also notice that we do get exited for our daughter over little things while the parents in this area seldom find the need to show joy and emotion. So I guess eating at nice places and sending our daughter to private schools is not enough. It’s a system that upper class families have that must be taught through experience. To have a “true” upper class or “elite” lifestyle you must be fully surrounded with all that it has. An white collar job, an expensive car, a big house, private schools, social activities with other upper class children, and most a knowledge on how to become successful in that life style. I just hope our daughter has the ability to choose the lifestyle she would like to have for herself.

  55. Use the Funds for the less privilege
    I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Dr. Harry
    Jones Georges who worked with Kuwait Embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2000.We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.
    Before his death we were both born again Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $8.6Million (Eight Million six hundred thousand U.S. Dollars) with a Bank in Europe.
    Presently, this money is still with the Bank and the Management has written me as the beneficiary to come forward to transfer the money. Presently, I am in a hospital where I have been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer.
    I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I might not be able to Survive this illness from all indications. It is my last wish to see this money distributed to victims of HIV/aids, charities donations, Orphans and other needy persons in your country. Because Relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my Illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them anymore.
    I want a person that is God fearing that will use this money to assist and utilize for orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that grivet. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not believers and I don’t want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers.
    I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace. I will not be able to use the telephone communication in this regard because of my soundless voice and the presence of my husband’s relatives around me always.
    I don’t want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will prove you as the new beneficiary of this fund. I want you and your fellow believers to always pray for me because the lord is my shepherd.
    My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. However that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life. Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another person for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
    Hoping to hearing from you soon and Kindly reply me through this my alternative email for the security reasons: evangelistxxmrsjones@yahoo.co.in
    Mrs.M. Susan Jones.
    My full contact for your informations are below:
    C/o
    St. Luke United Methodist Church
    98 bd Giscard d’ Estaing,
    Zone 4 Abidjan Cote D’ Ivoire .
    Faith and Remains Hospital,
    Les Arcades des,5ème étage,Appt 17îlot 5482,
    le Lot 1457 Avenue Raoul Follereau,
    Abidjan,Côte D’Ivoire
    Tel:+22507216934/+225084440585
    Fax:+225215610038
    Email:evangelistxxmrsjones@yahoo.co.in

  56. I’m 21 and have 7 kids. I dance for money, my kids caught fleas from the pet monkey we took in when my eldest joined the circus. My youngest only wears red, and continually paints herself red. Im a single mum and i live in an attic of an isolated house that doesnt have electricity or water. I have raised my kids well, they show imagination. what rich kids join circuses and paint themselves red?

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