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Author: Anna Sieben

This article presents interpretative analysis of 25 qualitative interviews with parents of preschool children in Germany, which focused on starting daycare and centred on topics of closeness and distance in the parent–child relationships. The article draws on sociological studies on intensive parenting, and cultural psychological theories of parenting. The analysis reveals that parents discuss starting daycare within the cultural framework of intensive parenting: they stress the benefits for their child’s social and cognitive development. As cultural psychological theories suggest, parents in Germany emphasise autonomy and independence, while also arguing that young children need interdependence. In addition, parents articulate a longing for interdependence themselves: they yearn for closeness with their children, but are also aware that their children are on a path towards autonomy. The article theoretically elaborates on these ambivalences and suggests that adding the dimension of parents’ longing enriches both the concept of intensive parenting and cultural psychological accounts.

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