Parents' Worries Vary Depending on Income, With One Exception
New research indicates a big divide in parenting worries based on income, but there are some concerns that unite us all.
For the report, researchers looked at about 1,800 adults with kids younger than 18, and found "stark parenting divides" between those who earn the most and those who earn the least.
"We went into it wondering where the fault lines were in American parenting," Pew's Kim Parker says. "Is it really about philosophies or values, or is there something else going on? 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."
Take the issue of safety as a case-in-point. While 59 percent of parents making less than $30,000 a year worry about their kids getting kidnapped, just 44 percent of parents making $75,000 or more said the same thing. Meanwhile, nearly half of lower-income parents said they were afraid of their kid being shot, but only 22 percent of upper-income parents expressed the same worry.
Lower-income parents were also more likely to worry about the quality of the neighborhoods in which they are raising their families.
Interestingly, 23 percent of moms and dads who earn less than $30,000 felt there can never be too much parental involvement at school, versus 59 percent of parents making more than $75,000. This may reflect the safety disparity in schools in low- versus high-income areas.
When it comes to after-school activities, Parker says: "Whether it be sports or music lessons or art classes or ballet or organizations like the Scouts, lower-income kids are doing those things but...it seemed from our survey findings that their access is probably more limited because those things take up valuable resources that might need to go towards rent or other more essential things."
What I found most fascinating about this study is that bullying is the top concern no matter a parent's economic status. And about half of all parents feel they are doing a good job, although millennial moms think they are #winning at parenting more than the rest of us seem to think we are!
Although this research showed parents worry about very different things, what I take from it is that we all worry about our kids. Because we all love them so darn much, and really are doing our very best.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.