Using the 'B' Word - Is My Kid a Brat Because a Study Tells Me So?

No…not that word. The other ‘B’ word.


I hate to even say it although I have to admit that I have used it to describe my children. But I really hate calling them that, almost as much as I hate when they act like brats.

I was a little perplexed after reading this article: Research Concludes That American Middle-Class Kids Are Brats.

The article describes a couple of  anthropologists who have been studying 32 Southern Californian families for the past decade. At the conclusion of their studies, they declared, “the American middle class is extremely child-centered compared to other cultures around the globe.”

Uh yeah…of course they are. And those same kids are probably reading that article on their iPad or cellphone.

I take issue with a few things about this study. First, only 32 families were studied and this gives a realistic view of the entire American population? Not so sure about that. Next, only families in Southern California were studied. I would venture to say that a more reasonable study would have included various geographic regions around the US.

Finally, I am not certain how fair or accurate it is to compare American children to those in other parts of the world. Won’t the American children almost always come out looking way more privileged? In fact, the article states:

“In the U.S., parents will kneel at their childrens’ feet and repeatedly tie and un-tie their shoes if they deign to say the word, “please,” while on the other side of the world, children serve food to their elders and help chop wood for fires. American middle-class kids are rarely expected to substantially contribute to the household, and when they’re actually asked to do chores, it’s proposed as a favor (“Please, Billy, would you mind setting the table?”) with negotiations or compromises sure to follow.”

It seems to me that cultural differences are actually being used as a way to label American children.

I mean, I get it. My dad walked to school every day, in the snow, barefoot, five miles, uphill each way. I waited out at a bus stop in the snow and rode a rickety old school bus. My kids get dropped off in carpool every day and picked up the same way.

Don’t we want better lives for our kids? I know that my dad wanted that for us and I want that for my children.

Are these kids brats or products of their environment? Or both? To label them as brats seems a little misleading to me and this study seems full of sweeping generalizations.

Stay tuned for a book coming out later this year from these same researchers which I am sure will offer greater support of their theories.


Read more from Stacie on The Divine Miss Mommy.

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Photo Source: Clare Bloomfield /

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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