Most parents say hands-on, intensive parenting is best

January 16, 2019

ITHACA, N.Y. - 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 parents 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 education 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-college graduates 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.
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The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation, Mathematica Policy Research, Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences and the Cornell Population Center.

For more information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

Cornell University

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