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New Study Says Intensive Parenting Is Best

A new study suggests that a time-intensive, child-centered parenting approach is the right way to raise kids. In this article, we break down the findings of the study, benefits of intensive parenting, and compare it to other parenting approaches.
intensive parenting
Updated: December 1, 2022

Don’t be scared by the word intense, a new study says that hands-on, intensive parenting might be the best way to raise children. But what exactly does that mean, and why is this the ‘best way’ to bring up your children?

Findings in a new study have shown that despite many variables, most parents say that a time-intensive, child-centered parenting approach is the right way to raise their kids.

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The findings of this Cornell University-backed study showed that despite any socio-economic variables, or if you are parenting a boy or girl, intensive parenting is the ideal approach. While previous studies have shown that parents with less income and education in turn spend less time and money on their children compared to parents with more income and education, the previous research hasn’t specified whether this difference was due to a lack of resources, or just because they preferred a different approach to parenting.

"This points to exceptionally high standards for how parents should raise their kids. It suggests that parents are experiencing significant pressure to spend great amounts of both time and money on children," said Patrick Ishizuka, the author of the study, published December 22, 2018 in Social Forces.

This new study, Social Class, Gender, and Contemporary Parenting Standards in the United States: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment, is the first study to address the question of what parents of all social classes consider “good parenting.”

"These high standards are less compatible with some parents' resources. Even though parents with a lower socio-economic status have these ideals, we know that they're not, on average, engaging in these parenting behaviors as often as college graduates,” said Ishizuka.

More than 3,600 parent participants were presented with scenarios which described one of two approaches to parenting: concerted cultivation (intensive parenting) or natural growth (non-intensive parenting). If going the route of intensive parenting, parents are generally more involved, willing to facilitate growth and thoughts, and respond with explanations to misbehavior, versus the non-intensive approach where they are less involved, and leave little room for discussion or negotiation in conflict.

75% of surveyed parents rated the intensive approach in the scenarios as “very good” or “excellent” when asked, while 32% of college graduates and 38% of non-college graduates rated the non-intensive parenting style as “very good” or “excellent.”

"A lack of time and money could be a factor in shaping their behaviors, given that they have very similar ideals. It's remarkable just how widespread support is for intensive parenting, in terms of social class and gender," shared Ishizuka.

What do you think of the results of this study, and how do you feel about the intensive versus non-intensive approaches to parenting?

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Jacqueline Weiss

About Jacqueline

Based in Los Angeles, Jacqueline is a freelance writer and social media strategist. She… Read more

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