The privatization of childhood

Childhood is now a curated experience for the rich, and a desperate challenge full of lotteries and high stakes for the middle-class and working-class families who aspire toward upward mobility. But it is not a particularly pleasurable one anymore.

All the anxious messaging around children as fun, smart, savvy, adventurous assets is a response to the intensifying economic stratification that leaves parents desperate to give their children an edge. Parents’ energies are absorbed by their children’s needs and schedules with a totality that is monolithic and exhausting.

It’s not a choice. It’s a financial imperative: middle-class families recognize, implicitly if not explicitly, that their children are born with economic advantages, and as socioeconomic stratification intensifies, there is less room for mistakes than ever.

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