Raising Children in US Looking at Class Welfare Gender and Sexism Racism and Child Abuse Research Proposal

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Raising Children in the U.S.

Raising the Future: Interactions Between Society and Children as Indicators for an Unhealthy Culture in the United States

Negative Roles for Children in U.S. Culture? Implications from Perceptions, Interactions, and Parenting Styles

Raising children is a complex multi-faceted experience, bringing about many issues such as discipline, communication, and respect. There are many issues arising in the parent/child relationship out of societal expectations and demands; many power dynamics are simply a result of this. Autonomy and identity are yet another complex piece of the social demands placed on children in the U.S. culture. In the United States, children are expected to mature faster then ever, yet they are often chided for such growth. For instance, children are expected to learn how to take care of themselves at a very early age, managing personal and academic needs while parents are working. When children engage in certain adult behaviors early, such as sexual intercourse and becoming parents themselves, they are looked down upon. In addition, children often face the pressure of parents and society to grow up in terms of intelligence and scholastic learning. The advent of toddler and even infant learning toys such as the popular Baby Einstein brand suggest the importance of impressing success on children at an early age. Here again children are given mixed message regarding whether they are supposed to remain children or grow into young adults. Other issues that are often faced when analyzing the role of children in United States' society include the role of parents, who often do not serve as role models for their children or serve as poor models. Diversity, too, is another aspect with which children in the U.S. society must deal. Different parenting styles, attitudes towards children, cultures, and priorities intersect at social events and locations where many children are present, such as school, places of worship, and community functions. Perhaps one of the single most important indications of a healthy culture is in how the majority relate to, interact with, and raise children; therefore an analysis of how a culture approaches children plays a key role in the diagnosis and healing of an unhealthy culture, which can be assessed through the areas of family and diversity.

Perception

In the United States, children are perceived differently by various groups and subgroups. A study of the view of children within the family, as well as how they are perceived by the society in general, can shed light on the topic of the role of children in the United States. In the family, children are viewed differently depending on the parenting situation and family type. For instance, children who live with both parents are more likely to be perceived as an asset to the family then are children who come from single-parent households or those who live with neither of their parents. This can be seen through studies that suggest "the type of parents…in a child's household can have strong effects on their well-being" (Child Trends Databank, 2008). Children who live with single parents "are…more likely to be exposed to high levels of aggravated parenting" (Child Trend Databank, 2008). Thus, it can be assumed that children who live in homes with both of their parents tend to be perceived as a positive asset to the family, while children living in single-parent homes may be viewed more as a social and economic drain than an asset, as the Child Trends Databank (2008) suggests that singe-parent families are likely to experience economic difficulties. A decrease from 69% to 67% in the number of children living with both parents (Child Trends Databank, 2008) suggests that a large proportion of children are, therefore, being viewed in a negative or burdensome manner rather than in a positive way.

Children are also viewed differently within families from different cultures or families of different definitions. The definition of a family is not as succinct as the one that might be found in the dictionary. Instead, families can be interpreted as those who live in the same house, those who are related through genealogy, people who lend each other support, or people who are given the title of "family" by the state ("Marriage & Family Professes," n.d). Because these different kinds of families exist, it is easy to understand how they might perceive children differently. Families might regard children in the typical way encouraged by their cultures or religion, or families who are brought together by something other than the traditional bond of marriage and physical childbirth might view children as either more positive or more negative depending on the circumstances that brought the family together. While the honoring of different types of families and diversity can be seen as a progressive marker, it is also true that a culture that can view its children in a negative light is one whose sociological interactions must be questioned.

Outside of the family, children in society are perceived in a variety of ways, depending on the background of the society members. For instance, the American feminist movement redefined how women viewed children. Rebecca Walker (2008), daughter of noted feminist and author Alice Walker, tells one story of how a woman's feminist views can impact how she perceives children. Alice Walker felt "enslaved" by children, viewing them as burdensome and the source of women's frustration and inability to get ahead. This view can be substantiated by the prevalence of abortion and birth control in the United States, as well as the fact that reproductive management is still generally viewed as the women's responsibility. Thus, women may view children as burdens and getting pregnant as a mistake. Rebecca Walker (2008), however, shares a view that is far different from her mother's, as she perceives children in a positive way and sees parenthood as rewarding. Further, Rebecca Walker (2008) also suggests another way society perceives children when she discusses how busy her parents were during her own childhood -- so busy they sent her to school at a young age, even making her walk instead of taking her. Walker (2008) writes that they expected her to grow up quickly. Thus, some members of perceive children as annoying or burdensome until they grow up. Still others encourage children to grow because they perceive them as their hope and future.

Interaction

Just as they are perceived differently by different groups, adults in the United States interact with children in different ways. Adults can choose to interact with children in several ways, all of which fall on a dichotomy ranging from neglect to extreme interaction, which can either be positive or negative. Some adults choose to neglect children, simply paying no attention to them or by refusing to meet their needs. Others interact with them at a sufficient level, but show no real interest. Still others interact with them a great deal, taking a personal interest in their lives, or going so far as to be overly involved in their lives, pushing them. Child abuse can even fall on this end of the dichotomy. According to Child Help, a non-profit organization that seeks to eradicate Child abuse, more than four children die each day from child abuse, while around 906,000 children suffer from abuse and neglect each year. Very young children suffer many of the fatalities that occur from child abuse and neglect; they are often less than four years of age (Child Help, 2009). This type of interaction has very serious repercussions for children, as many children who are abused go on to grow into adults who do not contribute to society. Large percentages of prison populations report childhood abuse, and those who suffer from child abuse are also often the sufferers of psychological disorders. Thus, interactions with children are diverse in the United States, although some of those interactions are less than beneficial for the children.

Parenting Styles

A third area in which society can be evaluated in regards to its dealings with children is parenting. Just like people in the United States culture perceive children differently and interact with them differently based on their backgrounds, parenting styles in the United States vary greatly based on a variety of factors, including cultural variables. Thus, children are raised in a variety of ways in the United States. For instance, while Vandermass-Peler (2002) notes that children in all cultures play, the bulk of his argument suggests that parents from different cultures take on very different roles in that play. Some parents play with their children, while others leave that task up to the child's friends and siblings (Vandermass-Peler, 2002). While Vandermass-Peler (2002) found that many parents "provide support and guidance for children's play," he notes that this support can take the form of encouraging play, watching play, providing time and an area to play. Cultures play another important role in parenting styles in the United States, especially for parents who are trying to keep their cultures alive in the United States. Parents may raise their children in the manner that they were raised in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Raising Children in US Looking at Class Welfare Gender and Sexism Racism and Child Abuse.  (2009, April 6).  Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/raising-children-looking-class-welfare/3642

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"Raising Children in US Looking at Class Welfare Gender and Sexism Racism and Child Abuse."  Essaytown.com.  April 6, 2009.  Accessed January 19, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/raising-children-looking-class-welfare/3642.