SCHERMERHORN – A newly discovered phenomenon has left sociologists baffled: white parents are proud of their children for no apparent reason.
Mark Spitz, a Columbia University sociologist who specializes in “Wonder-Bread-family dynamics,” said despite mediocre levels of accomplishment among white youth, white parents’ pride in their children is on the rise. “We noticed that between 2000 and 2010 there was a 15% increase in the number of parents who indicated that they were, ‘proud or very proud of their children’s recent accomplishments,’ so we expected to see these white children excelling,” Spitz said. “But, recent studies indicate these kids are actually getting worse.”
Spitz highlights the McGovern family from Orange County, California as a prototypical example of this phenomenon. Michael and Diane McGovern’s son was accepted to a top Northeastern university nearly three years ago, but since then has done little of note. Yet, the McGovern’s “couldn’t be prouder of the man their son has become,” a common phrase associated with this phenomenon whose actual meaning has yet to be determined.
“He can do anything he puts his mind to,” Diane McGovern said. “We’re just waiting for him to put his mind to something—anything. But in the meantime, we’re still very proud.”
Michael McGovern added that he “is just proud his son is putting himself out there.” When Spitz asked McGovern “where” exactly is son might be “putting himself,” McGovern said that he wasn’t sure, but that he was certain, “it’s got to be somewhere good.”
Spitz identified a cultural preference among most of the families he studied, and wonders whether white families could benefit from the examples of more successful ethnic groups. “Do you really have to be proud of the perpetual benchwarmer you gave birth to? I don’t see the Mishra’s going to Chili’s to celebrate every participation ribbon.”
And Spitz notes another confusing trend: though white mothers claim they “couldn’t be prouder” of their children, they often exaggerate when bragging about them to their friends, and sometimes even tell outright lies—such as, “my daughter is doing above average in her classes,” and, “my son has friends.” Spitz and his associates are still struggling to understand this aspect of white parents’ behavior. “If they were really proud of their kids, would they really feel the need to make stuff up?,” Spitz asked. “It makes me wonder if they’re as proud as they say.”
But Diane McGovern rejects the notion that her lying means she isn’t entirely proud of her children. “My awful friend, Sarah, lies about her son all time, and everyone knows it,” McGovern said. “I mean, does she really think we believe he’s good at basketball? The kid’s 5’ 2” and can barely walk and check his phone at the same time. But how am I supposed compete with her lies without fibbing a little?”
Spitz says regardless of the cause, white parents’ pride is proven to improve their children’s self-confidence, sometimes to the point of delusion.
Ryan, the McGoverns’ 20-year-old son, is a testament to such delusion. “I don’t really have a life plan, but I’m not too worried,” said Ryan. “My parents told me I could be anything I want: a model, a writer. I could even be the President of the United States.”