A nationally representative survey of parents finds that most believe parenting is a hands-on, time-intensive process. Researchers found this belief among a strong majority of parents, regardless of their education, income or race.
Investigators from Cornell University believe the findings suggest “intensive parenting” has become the dominant model across the socioeconomic spectrum. Parents feel this is the best method to raise their children, whether they have the resources to do so or not.
“This points to the exceptionally high standards for how parents should raise their kids,” said Dr. Patrick Ishizuka, a postdoctorate fellow at Cornell. His study appears in the journal Social Forces.
Ishizuka believes the findings suggests that parents are experiencing significant pressure to spend great amounts of both time and money on children.
Most parents said intensive parenting is the ideal approach for both mothers and fathers. Moreover, the study found that parents believe the rigorous approach should be used on boys and girls.
Researchers have known that parents with low incomes and less education tend to spend less time and money on children than those with higher incomes and more education. However, it was unclear whether this was because they lack resources or because they prefer a different approach to child-rearing.
And researchers have noted that it is also unclear how much of a child’s success is actually determined by parenting style.
Ishizuka’s study used a nationally representative survey, asking parents of different social classes what they consider to be “good parenting.” Overall, researchers analyzed data from more than 3,600 study participants who were parents.
In the survey, one of two approaches to parenting was described: concerted cultivation (an intensive parenting approach) or natural growth (a non-intensive parenting approach).
In concerted cultivation, parents facilitate their child’s participation in extracurricular activities, play with them at home, ask them about their thoughts and feelings, and respond to misbehavior with discussion and explanations.
In contrast, parents taking the natural growth approach set rules for their children’s safety but give them flexibility to play on their own or with friends. Parents are less involved in the children’s activities and give them clear directives with little room for negotiation.
The vast majority, 75 percent, of college graduates and non-college graduates rated an intensive approach as “very good” or “excellent” parenting.
Study authors suggest the findings imply that parents may struggle to meet these ideals, especially if they have low incomes and education levels. And while such beliefs about the right sort of child-rearing have grown in the U.S. since the 1970s, researchers noted, there has been little or no increase in affordable child care, paid parental leave and the like.
Source: Cornell University/EurekAlert