The middle-class [parenting] style of cultivation entailed verbal reasoning and negotiation between parents and children; organizing out-of-school activities and transporting children to and from them; and intervening in schools to ensure that their children were treated well. The “natural growth” style [of working-class parents], on the other hand, entailed verbal directives issues to children without much questioning or negotiation; unorganized, free-flowing out-of-school time; and reluctance to confront and question authorities such as teachers. The result was that middle-class children developed an “emerging sense of entitlement” which we might view as encouraging independent acting and thinking—just the kinds of skills that can be used to obtain and succeed at a high-paying job.First of all, of course, one wants to chuckle at the idea that the approved elite parenting style makes kids ready for success and high pay by inculcating a sense of entitlement. (Just what those bosses are looking for. "Send me some more kids with a strong sense of entitlement!") But the author's more serious objection is that Lareau lacks the self-knowledge to notice that she's trying to impose her elite mores on poor families who have their own way of doing things--ways that, frankly, have a lot to be said for them. I suspect kids raised in this non-elite way will have a decent shot at upward mobility; I'm not optimistic about the kids raised with a sense of entitlement while being shuttled from activity to activity and never allowed to play outside. Come to think of it, my own parents must have been distinctly non-elite. They managed to adopt a "natural growth" style that inculcated both self-sufficiency and ambition. Bonus: I've managed to avoid a life of either crime or sociology!
I'm all for "encouraging independent acting and thinking," but I have great difficulty detecting the connection between this useful skill and the ideal elite upbringing described by Ms. Lareau.