ERIC Number: ED238548
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Middle-Class Childhood: Building a Competitive Advantage or Early Burn-Out.
Berlage, Gai Ingham
Since the 1950s, parenting and childhood in America have changed dramatically. Childhood as a period in which to grow at one's own pace in a protected environment largely removed from adult supervision has given way to a new era in which the parent acts as supervisor and director of the child's development. Such involvement, especially by middle class parents, places unnecessary strain on children to compete and achieve, and often places unrealistic expectations on them. Ironically, whereas more is now known about individual differences in child development, the knowledge is poorly used: In reality, children's behaviors and abilities are compared with school standards or norms. Whether in school or on the playing field, the child is persistently pressured to perform competitively, and his or her performance is constantly measured and recorded; childhood more and more resembles the purposeful, success-centered, competitive world of adults. In many ways, children are expected to be miniature adults, but they are not provided the social status and privilege of adults. Excessive pressure on adolescents may lead to several undesirable outcomes, including narcissism in adulthood, escapist involvement with drugs or cults, burn-out, and feelings of anomie or normlessness. It is likely that such trends will continue. Unfortunately, childhood in the year 2000 will be marked by an intensification of the pressures and fears that characterize contemporary times. (RH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Sociological Society (34th, Villanova, PA, November 4-5, 1983).