Unequal Childhoods

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Class,race,and family life

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we will unlock the book: Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. I believe that you can figure out the main idea from the title of the book. It deconstructs how the inequality of family social resources results in a growing gap in children’s education, and eventually leads to inequality being passed from one generation to the next.

Speaking on the topic of American education, it is commonly viewed as a high quality and positive system, which respects children’s personality development, and cultivates children’s creative ability. It supposedly believes that everyone deserves the best education, and everyone has the opportunity to be part of the social elite in the future. However, we must admit that this viewpoint is a misunderstanding of the American education system. The reason for this misunderstanding is that many people ignore an important type of education which is separate from school education and social education, that is, family education. Family education is a child’s enlightening education, which plays a fundamental role in the child’s growth and affects the child’s entire life. Parents are children’s first teachers, and they have a profound impact on children’s personality, habits, language, and moral character.

The data shows that among young people in the United States, if their parents do not have a high school diploma, only 5% of them can complete college on their own. Meanwhile in Ivy League universities, more than 70% of students are from middle-class families or higher-income families. In today’s United States, class solidification is very severe. For children from lower-class families, it is very difficult to achieve social mobility. The social class one is born into will restrict her personal development. The social status of parents will affect children’s lives in an invisible, but powerful way.

The author of this book is Annette Lareau, who earned her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and was the president of the American Sociological Association. This book is based on Lareau’s research. She and her assistants tracked 12 families, and observed the family and school lives of these children. They documented how the different parenting styles of different social classes cause significant differences in children’s personality, language skills, talents, experience, as well as other aspects. The development gap among children of different classes is growing, which will affect the following generation’s future social status.

Next, We will introduce the key elements of the book from the following three parts:

Part one: What are the social class differences in parenting styles?

Part two: Why does social class affect the way parents educate their children?

Part three: Advantages and disadvantages of the parenting styles of different classes, and suggestions for parents.

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