Parents want concrete support not parenting lessons

September 07, 2006

Government plans to spend more money on advice that may not be welcomed by parents, who are more interested in concrete services than in parenting classes, according to research from the ESRC Families and Social Capital Research Group at London South Bank University.

The research, which will be discussed at today's Diverse Britain: Social Practice and Social Policy conference, found that in a survey of 1112 parents of 'middle aged' children, the majority did not feel that parents need professional advice and guidance to help them bring up their children.

In-depth interviews suggest that the concept of parenting advice is a sensitive one with parents associating advice with intrusion unless the information is related to the more formal aspects of their children's lives. Working class parents were particularly dismissive of the advice that they had received in the past from professionals. In contrast, on the occasions when middle class parents seek advice they are more likely to see themselves as consumers.

Research from the group also found that working class and ethnic minority families, in particular, are strong units that are perfectly capable of keeping connections and caring relationships alive in spite of the break up of physically located working class communities.

Such ties continue to work across national and international boundaries. In researching three generations of Italian immigrants researchers found, for example, that second generation Italians, because of their continuing commitments towards their parents and the involvement of the latter with their places of origin, often get entangled in a transnational life, managing kin relationships at a distance."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Saxon / Annika Howard at ESRC, on 01793 413032/413119


1. Professor Edwards is based in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at the London South Bank University, 103 Borough Road, London, SE1 0AA.

2. The Diverse Britain: Social Practice and Social Policy conference will take place on Friday 8th September at the Keyworth Centre at London South Bank University. For more information visit:

3. The Families and Social Capital ESRC Research Group, made up of a multi-disciplinary group of internationally renowned academics, is directed by Professor Edwards. The group carries out programmes of work that focus on the inter-relationship between the dynamics of family change and the processes of social capital. Work is organised around three key processes of social capital and how they interact with family issues: Each process is examined in three areas: ethnicity; education and employment; and intimacy. Findings from the research help policy makers and practitioners assess areas of strength and need in social support for families and to identify relevant and appropriate policies and interventions.

4. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC total expenditure in 2005-06 is £135million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at

5. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research (formerly accessible via the Regard website) and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at

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