Volume 44 - Article 13 | Pages 333–348  

Exploring the concept of intensive parenting in a three-country study

By Anne Gauthier, Caroline Bryson, Luisa Fadel, Tina Haux, Judith Koops, Monika Mynarska


Background: In recent decades there has been growing interest in the concept of intensive parenting. However, the literature is mostly qualitative and based on Anglo-Saxon countries. This raises the question of how best to operationalise the concept in a wider cross-national setting.

Objective: This paper aims to operationalise the theoretical concept of intensive parenting in a cross-national perspective.

Methods: The data for this study come from the CROss-National Online Survey panel [CRONOS], conducted in Estonia, Great Britain, and Slovenia in 2017. The analysis is based on 18 items on norms related to raising children. Exploratory factor analyses were carried out to identify dimensions of intensive parenting. Variation by respondents’ sociodemographics for the different dimensions was also analysed.

Results: The results reveal four main dimensions regarding contemporary norms of parenting: a child-centred approach, a focus on stimulating children’s development, personal responsibility to do one’s best for one’s children, and pressure to follow experts’ advice. These four dimensions were found in all three countries.

Conclusions: The results partly confirm the conception of intensive parenting originally suggested by Hays (1986). They also reveal that the phenomenon is not restricted to Anglo-Saxon countries but can be operationalised in a similar way in other countries. The findings also reveal some variation by sociodemographic characteristics, but not in a systematic way.

Contribution: This is the first study to use random probability population-based samples to operationalise the concept of intensive parenting in a cross-national perspective.

Author's Affiliation

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