Friday, February 19, 2016

How middle-class kids learn entitlement

Their financial problems are of great concern to both parents . . . Ms. Tallinger, recalling the anxiety she felt as a child . . . tries to spare her sons similar concerns. She does, though, let the children know that certain kinds of vacations, such as going to Disney World, are expensive and that all family vacations require saving in advance. But possible limits on money are never referred to when the family debates going out for fast food, when it is time to sign up for a sports team, when a dentist appointment is scheduled, or when arrangements are made to attend an out-of-state soccer tournament. By not mentioning money, the Tallingers and other middle-class parents convey a subtle sense of entitlement to their children. 
Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, 2d ed. "with an update a decade later" (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 2011), ch. 3

[The Tallinger's son Garrett] takes for granted the fact that his parents can afford the cost of clothing, groceries, fast food, cars, medical appointments, and assorted activities for their children. In fact, when offered a free toothbrush by the dentist, he declines. For Garrett, expenditures like these are simply part of his life; they are (unexamined) entitlements. He can't—and doesn't—even imagine that for working-class and poor children, these same taken-for-granted items and opportunities are viewed as (unavailable) privileges.

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