The Atlantic

The American Obsession With Parenting

Parents of all income and education levels are spending more time promoting their kids’ development—yet socioeconomic gaps in childrearing behavior are growing.  
Source: Godong / Getty

The word “parent” wasn’t used as a verb until a few decades. In fact, some experts argue it was only in the 1990s that the idea of “parenting” really became a full-fledged “thing.” By that time, at least for members of the middle class, being a parent didn’t just mean serving as an authority figure and a source of sustenance and support for a child—it meant molding that child’s life, flooding her with opportunity so she could have a competitive edge in the long-term, and enriching her with all kinds of constructive experiences. “Raising children,” my colleague Ann Hulbert wrote in her 2004 book , “has rated very near to sex—and to success—as an American fixation.”

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