Most parents say hands-on, intensive parenting is best

January 16, 2019, Cornell University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Most parents say a child-centered, time-intensive approach to parenting is the best way to raise their kids, regardless of education, income or race.

New research from Cornell University suggests intensive parenting has become the dominant model for how across the socio-economic spectrum feel children should be raised, regardless of whether the parent has the resources to actually do so.

"This points to the exceptionally high standards for how parents should raise their kids," said postdoctoral fellow Patrick Ishizuka, author of "Social Class, Gender and Contemporary Parenting Standards in the United States," published in Social Forces. "It 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, and applies to parenting boys and girls, according to the study.

Field researchers have known that parents with low incomes and less tend to spend less time and money on children than those with higher incomes and more education. But it hadn't been clear whether that is because they lack resources or because they prefer a different approach to childbearing.

Ishizuka's study is the first to directly address the question using a nationally representative survey, asking parents of different social classes what they consider to be "good parenting." He analyzed data from more than 3,600 study participants who were parents.

The vast majority, 75 percent, of college graduates and non- rated an intensive approach as "very good" or "excellent" parenting.

The findings imply parents may struggle to meet these ideals, especially if they have low incomes and education levels.

Explore further: Poorer parents are just as involved in their children's activities as better-off parents

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