September 20, 2015

21ST CENTURY PARENTING: The Trouble With Kids Today: The kids of today’s working class have it worse in so many ways that climbing the socioeconomic ladder has become dauntingly difficult.

Some low-income parents in the accounts are fiercely devoted to their kids; others created children casually and walked away from them casually. There’s rampant incompetence visible in the new lower class—incompetence on the job, as parents, in interpersonal relationships. There’s rampant irrationality and unrealistic expectations, with many respondents oblivious about the steps required to get from point A to point D in life.

Race is not a big deal in “Our Kids.” The voices include many whites along with Latinos and blacks, and the problems are similar across ethnicities. Nor do the Latinos and blacks treat discrimination as a decisive factor in their problems. Sometimes they explicitly discount the importance of discrimination.

Such observations are heartening, and they correspond to my own experience living in a part of rural Maryland with a Southern heritage and a significant black presence: race is not the angst-ridden issue in working-class America that you would assume if you based your expectations on the highly publicized problems in Ferguson or Baltimore. The same observations are disheartening insofar as “Our Kids” drives home how widely the problems it describes have spread throughout the working class. We’ve got a national affliction on our hands, not pockets of affliction.

The Gods Of The Copybook Headings smile and nod.

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