Shifts in Parenting

Through my work with SparkPath, I get to meet many parents of teenagers. I’ve learned that different parents have different approaches to parenting, which has sparked my interest in the topic. Which approaches to parenting are most effective? Which parenting styles can best prepare students to succeed in their careers?

To start to answer these questions, I decided to look at how parenting has changed over the last few decades. In this research, I found several resources on changes in parenting culture. Here were the major changes identified:

  • Growth of “achievement culture”
    • There are higher expectations for kids to succeed academically. This has resulted in more time spent on homework and investment in early education, like “brain games”. In addition, kids are in school for longer periods of time.
  • Stronger focus on security and safety
    • Parents want to know where their kids are and monitor their activities more closely. Fear trumps freedom. This has had adverse impact on the independence of kids.
  • Birth of self-esteem movement
    • Praise and confidence-building have become a central part of child rearing and education in America and beyond.
  • Technology changes
    • New tools and toys. Kids have more screen time. New methods of communication.
    • Greater access to information leads to more pressure on parents to do the right thing.
  • Other:
    • Changing perception of discipline.
    • Increase of childhood obesity rates.
    • Decrease of time spent on free play, increase in parents’ facetime with kids. Social stigma around unsupervised time to play.
    • Changes in family model.

What is interesting is that many societal changes have also caused an increase of pressure on parents. There are now more expectations on both kids and parents, which results in more stress for both.

These changes have also created the conditions for helicopter parenting to emerge, consequently reducing  children’s independence. Since independence is a key skill for career success, this is unfortunate.

In a future post, I will present techniques to foster independence in children and how this can positively impact their careers.

For more information, check out the following resources:

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