Interestingly, even with my parent’s seemingly working class professions they adopted a model of concerted cultivation for the majority of my childhood. They weren’t overbearing with it, but they never hesitated to enroll me in an activity or ask if I wanted to try this or try that. I did everything from karate to sailing camp to intellectual programs. My Dad, who is a hands off kind of guy, also adopted this model of concerted cultivation alongside my mother. My father is very passionate about and loves sports, so he expected me to be involved in numerous sports activities and be good at them. This was very important because sports became my main form of concerted cultivation that prepared me for institutional success. My mother also implemented a rule that I could only continue to play sports if I kept my grades up–a great form of incentive when one’s at an age where looking long term is nearly impossible.
My participation in numerous sports allowed me create a deep bond with my father, which may not have been as strong without it. Like many other middle class children, because I was involved in so many different activities, I spent a significant amount of time travelling to these activities with my Dad. In addition, because we both loved sports so much, we would play some form of sport nearly everyday. As I grew older, our main bonding moment came through playing golf with each other in the summer months.
In addition to building a deep bond with my father through my participation in these activities, I also gained valuable skills and social etiquette that has allowed me to be successful in institutional settings, which is consistent with Annette Lareau’s findings in Unequal Childhoods. I learned how work hard, manage my time, work with individuals that I didn’t particularly like, but most importantly I learned that sometimes you will be rewarded when you shouldn’t and sometimes you won’t be rewarded when you should. I also became very good at reading and questioning adults, which allowed me to manipulate circumstances in my favor. In addition, I became very good at judging character, which allowed me to align myself with the right people.