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"Social class has more effect on children than good parenting"

(46 Posts)
darleneconnor Tue 07-Dec-10 17:30:00 ass-parenting-study


Rollmops Tue 07-Dec-10 18:30:20

"...A study of 11,000 seven-year-old children found that those with parents in professional and managerial jobs were at least eight months ahead of pupils from the most socially disadvantaged homes, where parents were often unemployed..."

What type of 'parenting techniques' - as per article - apart from a story before bedtime, which is a nice touch but would alone not 'shape' the future of the child, were included in the study?

With certainty of getting flambéed, how many most socially disadvantaged children come from healthy family background where parenting per se, is actually considered vital?

Most definitely there are many, many lovely happy families, who take responsibility of parenting seriously, in that spectrum of socio-economic class, but they are minority.

At least that is what the underage fruit of their loins seems to suggest, if one bothers to look at statistics on disruptive/violent/delinquent behaviour.

ragged Tue 07-Dec-10 18:41:57

I suspect that it's true.
There's not enough info in the article to tell us what other parenting techniques they assessed. But the difference is not just about parenting techniques.
There's the whole culture of who your parents are friends with, what values you pick up from them and your parents' relatives (who are probably in similar social position to themselves, too). What kind of area you live in (aspirations of your neighbours and peers). The knock on effect of social deprivation or advantage is huge and permeates everything in daily life.

Doigthebountyeater Wed 08-Dec-10 12:39:16

Also, if you are 'academic' (and hence probably in a good job, good qualifications, middle class traits etc) you probably breed with someone similar so you produce kids who also have these tendencies.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 12:48:57

I suspect the academic thing is far more cultural than innate. Learning to ask questions, what's a well-framed question, having your questions answered, knowing where to find answers: really valued in some families (don't know if it's class specific, I was broadly a working-class kid and this was a big feature of my upbringing). Contributes massively to academic ability. That and a good memory. And an acceptance that knowing things makes life interesting. And not loathing The Man for making you do exams. Hugely cultural.

EdgarAllenSnow Wed 08-Dec-10 12:54:12

"while parenting is important, a policy focus on parenting alone is insufficient to tackle the impacts of social inequalities on children"

so.. this is the actual conclusion. never as simple as the headline.

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 12:54:46

I think it is possible to 'succeed' from a lower economic-socio background.

DH comes from staunchly working class stock, me from a very disadvantaged background.
We both went to uni, have had professional careers and made plenty of dosh.

However, there is no denying that it is more difficult.

I look at DC's peers - all very advantaged, and see rosy futures for them all. Maybe one or two will fall by the wayside, but the majority will have great lives.

Then I look at the pupils at the school where I volunteer. Terrible school. Lots of the kids are very poor.
And the future looks gloomy for many of them.

So I guess, yes, social class and money make a huge difference to life outcome.

Rollmops Wed 08-Dec-10 13:47:35

The point this article/study was trying to make, IMO, was that no matter how well you try to parent your child, he/she will be doomed if you are from lower socio-economic class.

It didn't, however indicate what 'parenting techniques' were studied that had no bearing whatsoever on the development of the child.

The article only mentioned 'bedtime stories' as a 'parenting tool'.

Reading to and with the child, naturally, is wonderful and magical thing; one that has profound effect on the development of the child.
However, quantity does matter a lot; one story before bedtime can not be compared to hours spent reading with the child, nurturing childs natural curiosity and imagination.

claig Wed 08-Dec-10 14:01:37

Agree Rollmops, it is the usual socialist redistribution line. It is implying that without equal money, the poor cannot compete with the rich.

It's not true. Many poor children end up with PhDs and become successful. Just increasing the wages of poor people is not the factor that makes the difference.

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 15:39:35

I think good parenting can lift a child out of disadvantage. My own Mother was a miracle worker.

But sometimes basic poverty does make succeeding very hard. It's hard to do well in cold damp houses, with crap food, and jumkies yelling all night next door. Not impossible I'll grant you...but very hard.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 16:58:13

I agree with Litchick.

(I could go on for ages about this subject, I'm a bit obsessed blush )

Chil1234 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:49:21

I think that 'class' is rather misleading in this context. I think so much hinges on 'expectations' - and not simply from parents but from everyone around you. If your parents have excellent parenting skills and high expectations for you, but the people you associate with from birth think working hard at school makes you a 'nerd' or that wanting to go to uni means you're 'a dreamer' then you've got to have a thick skin and plenty of personal drive to make it. (Can you tell I'm speaking from experience?) If your family have low expectations for themselves and their children, if they are in the 'what's the bloody point?' camp... and you're in an environment where everyone thinks the same way & ambition is not valued then you've no chance whatsoever.

The example that bucks the trend every time are Asian/Chinese children from low-income (lower class) families.... they tend to outperform the rest. That's the key to this.

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 17:52:27

Me too, Unprune.

When I look at DC's peers and I ask what it is that they have, that will make them successful as opposed the children at the school where I volunteer, it is tenfold.

1. They attend a fantastic school which costs ££££.
2. They eat good food which costs ££££.
3. They all live in spacious comfortable houses in nice environments which cost ££££.

then things get less clear cut...

4. Their parents are involved with their lives and education on a micro and macro level.
5. Their parents, teachers, peers etc, all have very high expectations both of achievement and of the hard graft necessary.

Which factors are the most important is difficult to say.

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 17:53:59

Crossed with you chil - though I see you're coming down on number five as the most important.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 17:55:26

"Class" is always misleading. To my mind it's about valuing education or not. (Education takes more than one form, though - not just academic.)

I completely agree that if you have a family and an environment where education isn't valued, or is actively discouraged, then you are completely disadvantaged. I had an encouraging family but grew up in a village where I was called a swot every single day of my high school career. I cannot get my head around that sort of attitude.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 18:05:02

Litchick I think one of the factors in addition is simply learning how to talk to people, and you are drilled in that daily, in a more stereotypically 'middle class' environment.

Treat people with a normal amount of respect, show normal manners, don't defer, don't put yourself automatically on the back foot by apologising or metaphorically doffing your cap, don't be afraid to ask for help/information - but crucially as well, don't treat people as though they are there for your benefit, don't inject aggression into normal transactions. Don't be dazzled by titles like doctor or professor, just talk to people.

That sort of thing is such an unspoken advantage.

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 18:09:22

i recently started a thread about DD being called a geek by a fellow pupil.
It was only one and DD not upset so I wasn't sure whether to take it further.

Advice here, was not to.

DH, however, was unhappy and contacted the school, who I shit you not, called him within minutes of the email. The whole thing was taken extremely seriously as the school have a 'zero tolerence' policy to any teasing or mocking of this sort as it is 'completelty at odds with the ethos of the school.'

Why can't every school be like that?

Litchick Wed 08-Dec-10 18:14:08

Unprune - that is very true.

Where I'm from certain professions are seen as out of reach.

My Ma was a coker. Despite our impoverished circumstances she saw anything as attainable for her DD. When I was ten we went to London for the day and she took two photos of outside number ten (showing my age that you could do that), and one outside RADA.

Classism and sexism bedevilled as far as she was concerned.

And I'm always telling my children that they must aim high. I don't think the kids in the school where I volunteer are ever told that.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 18:15:30

That's impressive.
DS is quite "geeky" and several of my friends have commented on it, affectionately. (His are too young.)
Actually a couple of them self-identify as geeks grin
I'm not sure how I feel about that one.

Unprune Wed 08-Dec-10 18:34:02

I meant to say earlier 'Don't be dazzled by job titles but don't sneer either'.

'Aim high' is a good lesson. I really clearly remember my father telling me 'Just remember, no matter how good you are, there is always somebody better than you.' confused Technically he's more or less right, of course! He's not a bad man, just a product of his parents. He was to be allowed into the top stream at school (meant you could get enough exams to get to university) and his father told him he was to go into the third stream and not get above himself. My grandmother compromised and he was put in the middle. (He was never as bad as them!)

icancancan Wed 08-Dec-10 22:20:16

this is an interesting thread for me. I am from a very disadvantaged background but worked fairly hard and am a postgraduate (but not in a very high paying career). My aspirations for our son are high but I feel uncomfortable around people born into privilege and always feel there must be some 'secret code' the middle classes use - they seem so articulate and calm iyswim. I suppose you could call it a quiet confidence. I hope my son 'learns' this code as I know it will advantage him in life in all sorts of ways.

huddspur Wed 08-Dec-10 23:51:12

I think parents encouraging aspiration is crucial, my dad seems to think its funny that my 11yo brother has a reading of 8 confused. Me and my sisters have done well for ourselves despite this but I do worry for him.

dracschick Wed 08-Dec-10 23:58:42

I might be misinterpreting the 'gist' of thisblush but... we arent well off in fact we are rather skint sadbut we have always encouraged and supported our dc in their education (even to the point of H.E) ds1 is now doing his A levels and has just been offered a place at 5 different unis to study law ....[proud],his friends who come from a much more affluent background and have had lots of foreign trips/money etc etc also have offers - what surprises me is the way they like to be at our home Im not wanting you all to say 'ohh dracs your fab your house is fab etc' wink but I get the feeling these children have been pushed educationally at a cost of 'real life' when ds1 goes off to play football and says come and watch Mum and bring ds3 -when we turn up im welcomed by all the lads and told their mums only go to prizegiving etc etc.

Icanican I know what you mean about this 'code' .

Unprune Thu 09-Dec-10 07:27:52

That is great about your son drac smile
I don't think it's anything to do with how much money you have, it's everything to do with encouragement and a bit of nous on the part of the parents and acceptance too. (and that can be totally missing even if you have money)

I knew a family, highly educated, one professor and one lecturer, 7 children, no money!, and two of the children went off and did skilled labour - the family accepted and encouraged that too, though the mother did tell me they had anguished conversations in secret because they were ignorant about the carpentry world grin

I think what Litchick was meaning below (and I was agreeing with) was that if you have absolutely nothing in your favour then you're kind of stuffed unless you totally escape your life somehow. As in total poverty, overcrowding at home, no role models whatsoever, oppressive/abusive parents, seeing nobody need to succeed at anything etc etc.

FreudianSlippery Thu 09-Dec-10 07:44:39

Well I hope it's not true! Parenting covers such a wide range of things that I bet weren't covered in the study (can't read it as it came up weird on my phone)

Anyway we are pretty poor, DH is actually a manager for a massive company and is really successful at his job but only earns £17k. I'm not working (doing OU degree) and we get a lot of benefits.

So in terms of statistics I guess we are fairly low down the social ladder.

Well, fuck the statistics. We make a massive effort to be the best parents we can be. We don't have money to spend on private education and enriching activities but we seek out the plentiful opportunities for free which help make our DCs' lives better.

Did get me thinking though, I love SureStart and have recently done some courses there. But I personally didn't learn a lot as I am invested enough in my DCs to read that info elsewhere. The families who really need the courses are less likely to sign up to them.

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