ERIC Number: ED248973
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-May
Reference Count: 0
Can American Families Afford the Luxury of Childhood?
This paper examines the ability and inclination of contemporary American family systems to allocate resources on a child-centered rather than an adult-centered basis. Specifically, the discussion considers whether the changing economic context of family life results in placing inappropriate demands for maturity upon children--albeit differently for affluent and low income families. The latchkey child phenomenon provides an illustrative case study of this issue. The increasingly "monetarized" nature of family households generates an internal economic climate in which children often appear to offer the only degree of freedom in allocating family resources. One result is pressure for a rapid assumption of self-care responsibilities. This analysis suggests two research questions. First, what is the life-span value of childhood as it has evolved culturally in the modern era? Second, to what extent are children being deprived of childhood in the name of the financial and psychic needs of parents? These lines of inquiry will illuminate the basic issue of whether or not childhood as we have known it at its best has become an unaffordable luxury for increasing numbers of American parents. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Hurried Childhood; Latchkey Children
Note: Paper presented at the National Conference on Latchkey Children (Boston, MA, May 17-18, 1984).