Families, Relationships and Societies
An international journal of research and debate

Conforming to intensive parenting ideals: willingness, reluctance and social context

Authors: Ciara Smyth1 and Lyn Craig1
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  • 1 University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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It is widely argued that parenting has intensified in recent decades and that family life has become increasingly child-centred. Intensive parenting represents a cultural shift in parenting behaviour that requires enactment at the individual level. Moreover, adherence to intensive parenting standards is often presented as a conscious/willing adoption, whereby parents choose to parent in a particular way. This article explores why parents conform to intensive parenting ideals. Data are drawn from in-depth interviews with 29 parents in Sydney, Australia, during which they reflected on the differences between their children’s childhood and their own. The article argues that while parents conform to intensive parenting standards, they do so at least partly because social context curtails their ability to do otherwise. Failure to uphold intensive parenting ideals was associated with several perceived risks for both parents and children.

  • 1 University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

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