Our families are the first groups that have major impacts on our lives. As babies, we learn to heavily rely on our family for basic life necessities. Our family experiences are so powerful that they impact the rest of our lives. Our family “[lays] down our basic sense of self, [establishes] our initial motives, values, and beliefs”(79). Our family teaches us about gender roles and establishes how we think of ourselves.
Working class parents tend to raise their children with a sense of freedom, but set boundaries when necessary. They see their jobs as providing physical things, such as nourishment and a home, while allowing the child’s development to happen naturally. That being said, it can be assumed that such parents feel that to learn values and morals, the child must face life’s experiences. While they do prefer that their children learn from life experiences, working class parents are mostly concerned that their kids stay out of trouble. Because the children are finding their own way in life, getting themselves into trouble is a likely possibility. Instead of sitting down and talking about problems and punishment, parents in the working class tend to use more physical punishment. Since bosses tell blue-collar workers exactly what to do, they expect obedience from their children. This, however, depends on what type of job the parent holds. Jobs that allow freedom, being any job outside the home or office, reflect on the amount of freedom they allow their children. Although there are big differences between child rearing in the working class and middle class, working class parents tend to follow the example of middle class parents.
In this clip from the show Friends, Ross has recently learned that his son, Ben, prefers playing with Barbie dolls over action figures such as GI Joe. Ross attempts to persuade Ben into playing with the GI Joe. He feels this is one area in which he can still have control over his sons’ life, while he is primarily being raised by two mothers. This shows how some parents feel they can have control over certain aspects of their children’s lives.
Middle class members tend to have contrasting views from the working class when it comes to parenting style. Middle class parents help their children flourish their self control, curiosity, and self image. These parents talk to their kids life adults and reason with them rather than applying physical punishment. Middle class parents tend to have very open-ended jobs, requiring them to take initiatives. Knowing that this is a desirable Characteristic, parents socialize their children to relevant valuable qualities. In addition, middle class parents guide their children through development. Wanting success, parents encourage their children’s play to develop social skills and useful knowledge. For example, parents are likely to include their children in group activities to encourage teamwork, hard work, and friendships. Middle class parents grow their children to become well rounded members of society.
In this clip from the Cosby Show, Vanessa’s parents explain to her why it is wrong to steal her sisters sweater and explains the right and wrong ways to study. This shows an example of how middle class parents teach their children lessons.
With the major contrast in parenting style, sociologists were surprised to realize the line between the two class’s parenting styles was not as distinct as they assumed. They realized that the type of job the parents held was directly proportional to their parenting style. For example, middle class office workers follow strict guidelines and supervision at work, so they parented using the working class parenting style. Working class workers who have more open jobs and less supervision tend to participate in the middle class parenting style.
In this scene from the movie Cheaper by the Dozen, Steve Martin & Bonnie Hunt are trying to have breakfast with their 12 children, ranging from elementary age to adulthood. They are working class parents who do whatever they can to keep their crazy kids under control, out of trouble, happy, and healthy.