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Will I be a good mom? Understanding social classes' hidden advantages

After two years of marriage, my husband and I found out a little one would be joining our family. We had been talking about starting a family and were thrilled when the test was positive. After a couple of months, however, reality began to sink in.
Merrili Gardner, Deseret News Modified: April 28, 2014 at 10:51 am •  Published: April 29, 2014

After two years of marriage, my husband and I found out a little one would be joining our family. We had been talking about starting a family and were thrilled when the test was positive. After a couple of months, however, reality began to sink in. How am I going to raise a child? Am I qualified enough? What would make me qualified? Do I really know what I got myself into?

I am the youngest of four children in my family. My “motherly” training that older siblings have to younger siblings or nieces and nephews has been limited, to say the least. In fact, my interactions with babies and young children throughout my life have been almost nonexistent. It would appear from my background that I am not a “qualified” candidate to become a parent. I have no training from experience or from classes. I essentially have no idea what I am doing or what I am supposed to do to raise a child.

Many mothers feel the same way I do. There’s even a common phrase in English that says “Kids don’t come with a set of instructions.” How can future mothers like me find answers? Much has been said about parenting by authors of varying authority, suggesting various “best practices” and methods. Yet there are theories that suggest advantages are found in sets of parents based solely on their social class.

Annette Lareau, president of the American Sociological Association, has done extensive studies on parenting and social class. She argues that social class affects the way one parents. According to Lareau, child-rearing strategies are influenced by life experiences and resources, occupational conditions and educational background. This results in an often unrecognized advantage provided to the children of these parents, such as the opportunities for extracurricular activities, tutoring, higher expectations of education/career paths, etc.

This advantage is often taken for granted. Middle-class parents provide advantage while not fully articulating what they are doing to give it. All the same, recognized or not, these middle-class parents are teaching their child skills that will provide long-term benefits. It becomes a pattern that is passed on.

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