Home » News » Parenting » Ready Or Not, Most US Parents Believe Intensive Approach is Best
Best Parenting Practice Is Child-Centered and Time-Intensive

Ready Or Not, Most US Parents Believe Intensive Approach is Best

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

Ready Or Not, Most US Parents Believe Intensive Approach is Best

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2019). Ready Or Not, Most US Parents Believe Intensive Approach is Best. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Jan 2019 (Originally: 20 Jan 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 20 Jan 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.