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Emerging issues and trends in Parenting

Emerging issues and trends in Parenting
Shared Parenting
Recent changes in the participation of women in paid employment, combined with an increased
research interest in fathers, has led many social commentators and researchers to advocate the
adoption of a shared parenting lifestyle(Russell, 2007)
Shared parenting in this context refers to the acceptance and implementation of shared
responsibilities for child management and socialization, combined with a shared contribution to
providing for family needs for support and nurturance; and not co-custody of children. This
means that both parents get out of the traditional gender roles where fathers take up the role of
providing for their children while women take up the nurturing roles.
This pattern has quite a number of advantages such as: (a) Children get the much needed
emotional warmth and support from both parents, therefore promoting emotional wellbeing (b)
Shared parenting offers families the benefits of both parents building relationships with their
kids, encouraging healthy child development, and creating a platform for parents to collaborate
efforts for their child's well-being(c) Both parents have the opportunity to care for their children
while also having the time to focus on their careers and rebuilding financially.
However, it also has its challenges. (a) Both parents experience difficulties in performing
responsibilities which are not traditionally associated with their gender. For example, men babysitting children. (Russell, 2007) (b) Marital conflicts arise from the pressure of taking up
unfamiliar roles, leading to resentment, (c) It presents opportunities for sexual abuse where one
parent is an abuser, and (d) Both parents are absent from home since mothers have to work as
much as fathers. Careers have taken precedence and the parenting role has been delegated to
other care givers such as the nanny.
These families can be helped to cope by: (a) Encouraging open communication whenever parents
feel overwhelmed or that the arrangement is not equal (b) Helping parents to come up with a
shared program that allows them to balance both their careers and the time they spend with their
The emergence of same gender parents
Advances and changes in globalized culture are responsible for a wide variety of ways in which
families are formed and in which children grow up. Although members of the gay community
have in the past been associated with a childless lifestyle, gay people are increasingly opting for
motherhood and fatherhood by creating families of their own or by continuing to live with their
children from former heterosexual relationships. (Lubbe, 2011)
Challenges faced by same sex parents include: (a) the same-gendered couple as a family
challenges the normative conceptions of the traditional model of the two-parent (hetero-gender)
family because the latter is socially and legally constructed from a biological model of
reproduction. They are judged by society and their children face ridicule from others as a result.
(Lubbe, 2011) (b) Loss of support from extended family (Marie, 2017) and Lack of support and
recognition by the law as parents.
These families can cope by talking to their children openly about the nature of their families,
reassuring them to help them cope with ridicule, and providing for the child a role model who is
the same gender as the child where parents are of the opposite gender so that they learn gender
appropriate behavior.
A shift from authoritarian parenting to permissive parenting
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” This old adage summarizes what was viewed for centuries as the
natural approach to child-rearing. Corporal punishment came in various forms and guises, be it
“spanking,” “slapping,” “smacking,” “paddling,” “belting,” or “birching,” and was once
routinely practiced both at home and in school. In contrast, nowadays condemnation of corporal
punishment is nearly universal. (Doepke & Zilibotti, 2019). Authoritarian parenting
characterized by use of corporal punishment and more control by parents, has been replaced by a
permissive parenting style where parents cater to their children’s demands and whims, with little
control or monitoring on their part as well as inconsistent discipline.
A number of disadvantages are associated with this parenting style. (a) Children of permissive
parents have low emotional intelligence and are unable to deal with conflicts or challenging
interpersonal situations, because of their attitude of entitlement. (Wischerth, Mulvaney, Brackett
&Perkins,2016), (b) adolescents whose parents are permissive also engage in high risk behavior
such as reckless drinking and sexual promiscuity and (c) permissive parenting is also positively
associated with more perceived stress.
Some ways of dealing with these challenges include: empowering parents to learn how to
balance control and monitoring with autonomy and emotional warmth, educating the children on
the realities of the world so that they look at themselves realistically and begin addressing their
behavior to cope better.
Single Parenthood
This form of parenthood is increasingly becoming more common as a result of the rise in divorce
rates, lifestyle choices, and pre-marital sex. (Hanson, Heims, Julian & Sussman, 1994). The
challenges of single parenthood include :( a) limited financial resources for the child as one
parent is responsible for the child’s welfare, (b) discrimination by society as single parents and
their children are not perceived as a normal family, (c) The lack of same gender role models for
children where the parent is of the opposite sex and (d) Children miss out on a relationship with
the other parent which may affect their perception of self. These families can cope with these
challenges by: (i) seeking financial support from their co-parent, (b) Allowing both parents
access to the child and a stable relationship with the child, (c) Re-assuring the child to help them
cope with negativity from society or absence of one parent.
Graeme Russell (1986) Shared parenting: A new childrearing trend? Early Child Development
and Care, 24:3-4, 139-153, DOI: 10.1080/0300443860240301
Carien Lubbe (2008) Mothers, fathers or parents: Same-gendered families in South Africa,
Agenda, 22:76, 43-55, DOI: 10.1080/10130950.2008.9674931
Nick Marie (2019) How to Deal With the Challenges of Same-Sex Parenting, My Child,
Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti (2019) Love, Money, and Parenting: How Economics
Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids, Princeton University Press
Grace A. Wischerth, Matthew K. Mulvaney, Marc A. Brackett & Donna Perkins (2016) The
Adverse Influence of Permissive Parenting on Personal Growth and the Mediating Role of
Emotional Intelligence, The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 177:5, 185-189, DOI:
Shirley M.H. Hanson, Marsha L. Heims, Doris J. Julian & Marvin B. Sussman (1994) Single
Parent Families:, Marriage & Family Review, 20:1-2, 1-26, DOI: 10.1300/J002v20n01_01