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The Childhood Phase of Life in the Mexican American in Texas

This suggests that the middle class American childhood experience of filial piety tends to reflect individual household and family culture rather than the culture of the whole. On the other hand, to the degree middle-class parents may have absorbed the modern cultural values of sex-role egalitarianism and paternal as well as maternal nurturance, their children would be less inclined to think of their father principally of he-who-must-be-obeyed.

Except in what Madsen calls the "lower-lower class families" of migrant workers, "where children may be assigned exacting household tasks while both parents work in the fields" (p. 53), children benefit from relatively permissive parental practices. The view is that children are "angelitos," or innocents "as yet uncontaminated by sin and error" (p. 53). According to Madsen, fatherly displays of affection to and playfulness with children are confined to the home, the demands on men for public dignidad and machismo being so strong. But it would be misleading to consider Mexican-American childhood as weighted in favor of permissiveness. Indeed, the weight of evidence for Madsen is on the side of the view that the main message of childhood enculturation is the authority of the father in particular and male superiority in general. This explains why as children get older both parents may discipline daughters but only the father as a rule disciplines sons (p. 54). Madsen cites several examples of children whose principal experience of their father as dictator (p. 54); among the greatest weapons a mother has against disobedient children is that she will "tell your father" (p. 54).

Given the growing number of single-mother households in the American middle class, childhood experience of the father as role model or parenting figure may be limited. In one sense, this suggests that the middle class child avoids strong family hierarchy and indeed that the child is encouraged to find strategies of ...

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The Childhood Phase of Life in the Mexican American in Texas. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:57, August 19, 2017, from
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