Saturday, December 17, 2016

Being Parented by Cassie Kinney

Being Parented

Although my family was characterized as working-class with some aspects of poverty, we were buffered from the various institutionalized and systematic inequalities because we lived out in the country, we are white. We did not face homelessness, racism, otherness, and we were not conflicted by embracing cultural heritage and resisting the white majorities standards, while assimilating and integrating into society for work, school, healthcare, and community. Subsequently, Lamanna and Riedmann's research reflects that typical white, working-class family upbringing, because of the service jobs my mother and father had, authoritarian disciplinary like spanking, the 'natural growth' parenting style where I played lots of video games and watched television extensively.
Furthermore, my family was not characterized as middle and upper class. In some ways my family had some characteristics of a middle and upper class family in engaging children in extracurricular activities like clubs and sports. For example, my youngest brother was encouraged to play baseball for a year. Although my mother tried to get me into cheer leading, basketball, or piano like my friends, and tried to get one of my brothers to be on the Academic team, none of us wanted to do these things. And after a year, my other brother did not want to play sports anymore. All of my siblings are nearly addicted to gaming as adults now. We all went to church with our grandmother but once we each turned 15, we stopped going. I think my youngest brother stopped going at a younger age because I convinced my mother that there's no point brainwashing someone that doesn't believe in god...actually none of us did, so I think my mother just wanted us to be gone for an hour each evening so her and dad could mess around....and by that I actually mean fight privately for an hour.

Additionally, Lamanna and Riedmann's research is reflective of my personal childhood experiences on the basis of social class, race/ethnicity, socialization, and discipline. My mother and father, both at the age of 23, had me in 1990. Both parents are white and most of my extended family is white. I was raised in a cramped, moldy trailer for 6 years up a hollow (“holler”) surrounded by woods—with almost no one as our neighbors except my grandparents (father’s parents). Both my parents were characterized as working-class despite my father coming from family that had over a hundred acres of land that was passed down to his parents. His parents worked in manufacturing and raised tobacco to sell. My mother’s parents worked in factories as well, and retired as early as their 40s in life to draw disability. As characterized by the researchers, working-class families tend to work in service positions. For example, both my mother and father worked in manufacturing, construction, and health care jobs. Later my father went into construction under unpredictable hours, and my mother went back to college for nursing.

When my mother had my three younger siblings, we moved to a small one-and-a-half story home with several neighbors around (but still surrounded by woods.) At this location, we moved less than a mile away from my other grandparents (mother’s parents). For all of my life, I have lived very close to all my grandparents. This is part of the working-class family that must live close to extended family in order to take the burden off of the parents, and grandparents will babysit grandchildren for free or at low cost. Finally, my mother got her BSN to work as an RN. She worked nights, so I never saw my mother. And of course when she had day shift, she was sleeping as soon as she got home until she had to leave in the morning to avoid my father. My father worked during the day, so he played video games and watched television with us throughout the night. This is another illustration of the working-class family as described in the text, where I often played outside, watched lots of television and played video games—as well as my other siblings. Often I played with siblings, but the other half of the time I was by myself. There were almost no moments in childhood where I read books, except maybe to look at pictures which influenced my siblings and I to draw—and very good in fact.

Another aspect of working-class families is the authoritarian style of parenting that occurred in my household. My mother was more disengaged (the 'un-involved' parent) because of her night shift. So not only did I not have help with homework, emotional support, but also this meant that my father was the disciplinarian. For instance, my father spanked all my siblings and I. A couple of times I remember we were told to “line up” so all of us were spanked. Once at a young age (around 11-12), my father locked me out of the house and made me stay on the porch at night for five minutes. Once around the same age, I was locked in the bathroom and told not to come out. When I think back on those same moments, it doesn't seem so bad considering there were other moments I never thought was bad then and I do now. For instance, once while my mother was at work at night, one of my brothers and sister at the ages of 2 and 4, climbed out of a bedroom window and walked down the end of the road with only shirts and underwear on. My father had no idea they were even gone until two young teenage boys knocked on the door saying they picked them up to bring them home. I'm not sure where I was, and I may have been playing video games with dad. This is an illustration of permissive parenting. From these examples, it seems that although my father was authoritarian, he also was permissive in the sense that there were moments where there was absolutely no parental monitoring. My father was an alcoholic back then. Luckily, my mother divorced my father and all of the tension, anxiety, and uncertainty dissipated when he left. He quit drinking and now he participates in church, even plays guitar in a band.

Despite living in a working-class family, there was not aspects of poverty-level living that we endured. For example, as described in the text, poverty-level living families live in rented apartments, moving from place-to-place, and struggle to provide a few extra presents at birthday and Christmas. This was not us, because the house we moved into, was a a bit less than 20,000 dollars. Additionally, we always had big birthdays and Christmases with lots of little presents. I always had a big yard to play in with trees to climb. In the early 2000s, we got our first computer—and that was certainly a luxury! However, a characteristic of low-income and poverty-level family mentioned by the researchers was that mental illness is common, and actually there are differently abled family members, where my brother was diagnosed with Autism. 
Something the researchers do not mention as a characteristic of poverty-level living is not having bedrooms and beds to sleep on. Actually, we didn't have separate beds growing up. It wasn't until I was 15 that I got an actual bed in my own room. I had my own rooms, but I usually slept on a blow up mat or on blankets. I think because I was the oldest and I was going through puberty that I tried to have my own space. I usually shared a place to sleep though up until then. All six of us would sleep like cats and dogs in the house--seeing who is sleeping where for the night and where there is an available spot or blanket. Often the kids slept with mom, or they slept with dad, or we took turns sleeping in the living room floor after a night of eating gross gas station pizza.

From my personal experience, and based on the research, authoritative is the most positive parenting of the four styles, because there is high parental warmth and parental monitoring. In some ways there is freedom for the child as well as consistent discipline that is not harsh, without excessive control, and clearly acknowledges any misbehavior. For example, there is a planned and conscientious parental direction with emotional support, warmth, and nurture.

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