A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

The American Middle Class: Guilty Parents and Lazy Kids- Slate

In News on March 14, 2012 at 06:52


UCLA anthropologists study American parents and find us wanting.

“This gut-churning Wall Street Journal article describes how anthropologists from UCLA are studying the habits of the American middle class. By analyzing weeklong video recordings taken inside the homes of Los Angeles-area families, the scholars are trying to understand what makes American children so helpless and needy, compared with children from other cultures. (The lead anthropologist, Elinor Ochs, has videos of Peruvian kids out climbing trees to harvest papaya, for instance, and Samoan kids serving meals to their elders.) By contrast, the American kids laze about, asking their parents to fetch them silverware and ignoring requests to do their chores. To wit:

[O]ne exchange caught on video shows an 8-year-old named Ben sprawled out on a couch near the front door, lifting his white, high-top sneaker to his father, the shoe laced. “Dad, untie my shoe,” he pleads. His father says Ben needs to say “please.”

“Please untie my shoe,” says the child in an identical tone as before. After his father hands the shoe back to him, Ben says, “Please put my shoe on and tie it,” and his father obliges.”

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