Pew Report: Parent Concerns, Approaches Differ by Demographics

parents

A new Pew Research Center report based on a survey of more than 1,800 US parents with children under the age of 18 reveals that there are “stark parenting divides” between lower- and upper-income families.

In 59% of low-income households, parents worried their children would be kidnapped. In families with incomes of $75,000 or more, 44% of parents had that same concern. Of lower income parents, 47% were afraid their child would be shot while 22% of upper-income parents said the same.

“We went into it wondering where the fault lines were in American parenting. Is it really about philosophies or values or is there something else going on?” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research for the Pew Research Center. “What we ended up finding was that really the major fault lines in parenting today tend to have less to do with those philosophical differences and maybe more to do with socioeconomic gaps, which are really sort of shaping and defining experience for a lot of parents and children.”

Many families, especially those in the less than $30,000 annual income, struggle with situations that are much worse than problems like excessive media use, writes Kelly Wallace for CNN, with kids in low-income families more prone to being victims of violence.

For financially-strapped parents, worries include the neighborhood in which they live and a dearth of after-school activities for their kids. Of the parents in low-income areas, 33% rated their neighborhood as fair or poor compared to 7% of higher-income parents. Upper-income parents, at a rate of 84%, said their children played sports and participated in athletic activities compared to 59% in low-income communities.

Researchers said it was apparent that lower-income students were doing some of the activities that higher-income kids were doing, but access to these classes and functions is probably more limited because of the lack of resources available for uses other than rent or other essentials.

Worries about teenage pregnancy and legal problems are also more prevalent among lower-income parents. But a concern that is shared by both groups of parents is bullying, even more than struggles with depression, anxiety, kidnapping, shooting, doing drugs or being attacked.

The survey’s findings also touched on parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Approximately 53% of parents with school-age children, according to the Pew Social Trends website, said they were satisfied with the amount of involvement they had. But 46% wished they were doing more.

Parents in general did not think their kids should feel sad about getting less than good grades as long as they had tried, but 52% of parents said they would be disappointed if their children were earning average grades.

Parents with school-age children said they talked to teachers about their child’s performance at a rate of 85%. Roughly 60% said they helped with school activities or with a particular project across all income groups. But high-income parents were twice as likely to say that too much parental support in their child’s education can be harmful. Only 23% of lower-income parents responded in the same way.

Currently, 69% of kids younger than 18 live with two parents, down from 87% in 1960, writes Renee Stepler for Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

Approximately 51% of mothers say they are doing an excellent job of raising their kids. Only 39% of dads say so. 57% of millennial moms say they are parenting well, with 48% of Gen X parents saying so and 41% of Baby Boomer moms agreeing.

NBC News’ Mashaun D. Simon says that another Pew Research report focused on income and its impact on the middle class found that African Americans remain behind the overall population in wealth overall, but that there are fewer African Americans in the lower income population currently than in 1971.