How are today’s parents similar and different from their own parents?

We delved into this question in our recent study of global kids and families, Are We There Yet?. This project (undertaken pre-Covid) is based on a survey of parents of kids 12 and under across 16 countries, expert interviews, and an in-depth literature review.

Here are some insights we uncovered on how parents today compare to their predecessors:

Same as ever, parents expect a lot from their kids. When we asked parents to compare their parenting to their own upbringing, the things that they do as much as their own parents did with them include having high expectations for their kids (57%), setting firm rules and boundaries (54%), and disciplining their children (53%).

More than their parents did for them, today’s parents help their kids through tough situations. Half of parents surveyed said that compared with their parents, they are more likely to guide their child in difficult situations. This doesn’t mean letting their kids off the hook, however. Virtually all parents (95%) believe it’s important that their child knows the consequences when they have done something wrong.

Parents today take a less rigid approach to rules. Although rules and boundaries are important to parents, most (84%) also believe that sometimes it’s necessary to bend their own rules to get things done. There’s also less of the “because I said so!” mindset today. Over half of parents surveyed told us they are more likely than their own parents to explain the reasons behind their rules to their kids.

Today’s parents have warmer, more playful relationships with their kids. What else do parents say they do more than their own parents? Tell their kids they love them (59%) and play with them (55%). Even though parents continue to hold their kids to a high standard, they do so in a more loving manner.