Parenting a ten-month-old child

Attitudes, feelings, domestic organisation and activities

Previous research suggests that children's socio-emotional and cognitive development may be affected by parental attitudes, parental feelings, including stress, hostility or perceived lack of confidence and domestic organisation.  A new report from GUS looks at how parents' attitudes and domestic organisation may be shaped by family circumstances and parenting support, and how all these factors in turn affect parenting and the parent-child relationship.

In these findings, 'family disadvantage' refers to indicators including low maternal education, low household income and area deprivation. 'Social support for parenting' refers to informal support from family and friends, and/or formal support through organised groups and classes.

Key findings

  • Family disadvantage and a lack of social support for parenting were both independently associated with parental attitudes and domestic organisation likely to impair responsive, effective parenting
  • Parenting stress was greater for:
    • parents without informal parenting support from family or friends
    • parents in both the most disadvantaged, and the most advantaged groups
  • Parents from disadvantaged families were more likely to have negative feelings about parenting (incompetence, resentment, impatience or irritation)
  • Family disadvantage and a lack of social support for parenting were both independently associated with less frequent activities important for child development, including looking at books/reading stories, singing or saying nursery rhymes and visiting other families with young children
  • Almost all (95%) of mothers reported frequently hugging their child
  • Parents from disadvantaged families were less likely to have a warm relationship with their child, and to limit TV viewing to under two hours a day
  • Parents reporting greater levels of stress and lower levels of domestic organisation also reported less frequent activities important for child development. These associations held after taking account of family disadvantage and social support for parenting
  • Parents with children in the second birth cohort (children born during 2010/11) were slightly more likely to report looking at books or stories with their child every day or most days than parents of children in the first cohort (born 2004/05). These differences are possibly attributable to increased formal parenting support

The findings suggest that family disadvantage, support for parents, parental attitudes and feelings, and domestic organisation may independently contribute to parenting activities which are important for children's development. The findings suggest that parenting support may boost both a parent's own psychological resources and important parenting behaviour, regardless of family disadvantage.

The full report (chapter) and research findings summary were written by Alison Parkes, Daniel Wight and Helen Sweeting from CSO/MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow.

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GUS is funded by the Scottish Government.