Stats on parenting and class
Poking around the Census web page today, I ran across this report, issued earlier this year, on A Child’s Day, 2003 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being).
It’s full of all sorts of odd and interesting statistic, like 6.7 percent of parents living with a child 12-17 said that they talked to or played with their child for 5 minutes "never" to "once a week." What really jumped out at me is the ability to see what parental characteristics are associated with different parenting behaviors. Affluent parents are more likely to report reading to their preschool aged children than poor parents (although 40 percent of poor parents still said that they read to their kids 7 or more times in the last week). The association with parental education is even stronger than with income.
I was quite struck by the correlation they found between "television rules" imposed on children (restricting the type of programs, the time of day, or the number of hours watched) and the frequency with which parents read to their kids. This suggests at least the possibility that the supposed negative effects of television on young children is a spurious correlation with parenting behaviors.
Consistent with Lareau’s description of concerted cultivation vs. accomplishment of natural growth, more affluent and more educated parents were far more likely to report that their school-age children participated in extra-curricular activities, including sports, clubs, and classes. (There was no "egghead effect" — children of parents with post-baccalaureate degrees were still more likely to play sports than any other kind of activity.) And the higher level of education the parents have, the more likely their children are to participate in gifted classes, and the less likely the children are to have been suspended or to repeat a grade.