What data says about parenthood in 2020
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. In the 21st century, that proverbial village takes the form of how-to books, viral “momfluencers” and Google.
Parenthood is a chapter in life that many adults enter into feeling entirely unprepared. And while there are a number of resources intended to help new parents make sense of everything they encounter on their journey through parenthood, the reality is that nothing really teaches someone to be a parent better than simply being a parent. One major reason for this is that, as the world changes, parenting techniques must adapt to change with it. In 2020, a new mother might take comfort in knowing that she can turn to her own mom for advice on parenting, but she may soon realize that the society in which she’s raising her children isn’t the same as the one in which her mother raised her.
While today’s parents are faced with the usual things that come with parenthood — changing diapers, driving carpool, creating a loving home and so forth — their responsibilities are also unique to the current era. Today’s parents have to think about things like how to have conversations with their children about climate change, or how they want to bring up children in an era where gender-neutral parenting is on the rise. While modern parenthood comes with its advantageous perks (e.g., more women are openly discussing their struggles with issues like postpartum depression), it just as easily comes with unprecedented challenges (e.g., combating screen time and ensuring safe internet use in the digital era).
To better understand the unique experience of parents today, Stacker compiled a list of data points and statistics from recent years that have shaped the state of parenthood in 2020. We looked at census reports, surveys, research studies and news articles to identify parenting trends that have evolved over the years and ones that are on the horizon. Read on to learn more about the 25 things data says about parenthood in 2020.
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Most parents would rather keep parenting tips in the family
Only about 12% of parents feel prepared when they first have children, according to 2020 survey data from diaper-rash company Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Despite a wealth of external resources aimed at helping new parents prepare for the milestone, however, nearly half of all parents agree that they tend to turn to family members before looking for answers elsewhere. Specifically, 42% of new parents would turn to their partner and 41% would turn to their mother before seeking information from a nonfamilial source, with the third most popular source of information being other parents.
Almost 20% of parents look for advice on the internet
While nearly 50% of parents agree that family is the primary go-to as far as advice goes, the internet is another major resource for parents looking for tips and support. According to the same survey from Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, about 17% of parents go online for parenting information, with 10% turning to social media. Online resources like Parent Toolkit and the growing trend of “momfluencers”—Instagram users who impart parental wisdom and encourage public conversations about once-private elements of motherhood—are all considered valuable sources of information for parents in the digital age. Unfortunately, there remains a strong divide whereby parents from higher socio-economic backgrounds have better access to these internet resources than those from lower-income families. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of households making more than $75,000 annually had home broadband in 2019, but only 56% of those making less than $30,000 annually had internet at home.
Authoritative parenting tops the list of preferred styles
The preferred parental style of most parents today is an authoritative style, according to data collected from the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste 2020 parenting survey. This parenting style calls for parents to be firm in the rules and boundaries that they set for their children while still maintaining a sense of empathy. Of the four parenting styles identified by psychologist Diana Baumrind—the other three are authoritarian, neglectful and permissive—child development experts have long agreed that the authoritative method is the optimal choice.
Parents are taking advantage of the gig economy
Parents juggling work and raising their children have taken advantage of the modern age’s gig economy. Remote or flexible jobs from apps and websites like Upwork, Uber and FlexJobs offer an easy way for parents to shape work schedules around their children in some capacity, which is important given that 42% of mothers say they have trouble going back to work after taking time off. The gigs of the gig economy are not without their faults, though, and one of the biggest issues is often the lack of a guaranteed or timely paycheck.
Parents splurging on skincare products for kids
Though the thought of skincare might sooner conjure up ideas of a 20- or 30-something going through their facial routine every evening, 2020 may be the year that it brings about thoughts of babies and children, too. New products like Ready, Set, Gro!—a step-by-step skincare routine for children that mimics the 1-2-3 skincare sets often marketed to adults—are starting kids off early with establishing a face routine. Parents don’t seem to mind, though — statistics show that three out of four parents would gladly spend more on personal-care products for their children over themselves.
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New research gets behind the importance of “parentese”
While baby talk may not necessarily have the most positive reputation, recent research has confirmed that another mode of talking to babies—”parentese”—could play an important role in children’s vocabulary development. Data results from a February 2020 study out of the University of Washington found that parents’ and adults’ alterations in their speech when talking to babies, such as the use of exaggerated vowel sounds, actually helps develop children’s’ vocabulary at a faster rate.
Americans are having fewer children
Childbirth rates in the U.S. have been on the decline for several years, and 2020 is not poised to be any different. However, the lack of children is less a product of desire and more of circumstance. While recent statistics have shown that 42% of surveyed Americans definitely want kids, some of their biggest concerns when it comes to starting a family include the high cost of childcare, a lack of time to dedicate to children, and fears about the future of the economy.
The “sandwich” generation is struggling with mounting financial burdens
Parents today are in a unique position in which their financial burdens are not limited to their children, but include their parents as well. As medical advancements create longer life expectancies, adults in their 40s and 50s with children of their own are finding themselves “sandwiched” in between two generations for which they are financially responsible. About 12% of Americans are in a position where they are caring for children as well as aging parents, according to Pew research data. A joint survey between The New York Times and YouGov to better understand the effects of the sandwich generation found that 32% of parents have made financial sacrifices to care for their family members, while 28% have had to make sacrifices in their careers.
Parents are pulling back on activities for their children
It used to be that the more activities parents could get their children involved in, the better, especially in a competitive era where some parents attempt to groom their children for top tier college acceptances and successful careers from an early age. This mentality has always been especially prevalent with parents who have the financial means to support activities including summer camps, music lessons or Boy Scouts (which, in January 2020, actually increased its membership fees by 80%). However, as these activities become financially draining on family budgets, and come into question amongst experts who warn against the negative effects they can have on children’s socialization, they’re starting to lose steam. Statistics show that about 64% of parents hope to see the overscheduling of children fall by the wayside in 2020.
Compulsive screen use is getting more attention
About 65% of parents worry that they give their kids too much screen time, according to the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste 2020 parenting survey. In 2020, however, that might become a question that pediatricians can address with more accuracy. Research out of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute is aiming to better understand the signs of compulsive screen use in children, so that questionnaires to help parents assess their children’s digital habits can become more straightforward and commonplace.
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