tiger parenting, laid back parenting, or just concentrated cultivation?

I read this article on supposedly different parenting approaches to education with some amusement because in the great scheme of things, their approaches to education/child-rearing and the types of educational experiences that their kids are getting are probably more similar than different:


Sure the Lee family seems a little more intense (okay, a lot more intense), but I’d contend that in the end, they’re both practicing their own forms of concentrated cultivation, as described in Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods–the parenting style that’s most frequently associated with upper middle-class/upper class families where parents leverage their privilege, capital, and know-how to secure advantages for their children. It can look different and can be more or less intense depending on the family, but what they share is a certain type of parental involvement/investment in their kids’ bid-nez. In fact, the family dynamic described in the Larriva-Latt family is probably closer to Lareau’s conception of concentrated cultivation (museums, public radio, talking about the news) than the Lee family (the mother is highly involved but she’s also outsourcing a lot of the cultivation to tutors and using a more directed-type parenting style as the enforcer).

And to top it off, if both of these kids are going to school in San Marino, their overall educational experiences are probably more similar than different. There might be some cultural dynamics/variations between how their parents are choosing to raise them, but in the end the structural conditions of a high school like San Marino are probably going to play a big, if not bigger, role in shaping their educational futures.

(By the way what’s the deal with all of these rewards for the Lee kid? All we got was dinner at Red Lobster once a year–which explains my eternal love for cheddar biscuits)


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on May 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    While I do not plan to parent in the Lee family style, I think we need to appreciate that someone out there is doing that. Where else would we get amazing researchers, world class specialists that can cure our diseases, etc. Personally for my own kids though, I want them to get so much more out of life! Sports! Music (not something forced like violin lessons)! Friends!!!
    I definitely see what you mean by how similar the parenting styles actually are, in the fact that they both choose a school based on excellence in academics. The Larriva-Latt family just “tutors” using the world-museums, camping, etc. Those kind of experiences teach you so much more than books can!!!


    • yes–although world class researchers/specialists can probably come out of any parenting style and not just the lee style, and hopefully the lee kids are able to get other experiences that broaden their horizons. i think a lot of families would like to choose a school based on excellence/academics but the reality is that most families can’t just “choose” a school district like san marino–it takes a lot of $$$–which in the end is probably why the two families are more similar than different, because they’re able to leverage not just parenting styles but $$$ to help their kids achieve their aspirations.


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