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Parenting and the different ways it can affect children's lives: research evidence

What can research tell us about the influence of parenting, especially the parent-child relationships in millions of ‘ordinary’ families?

Written by:
David Utting
Date published:

Seven literature reviews of research on parenting.

Policy-makers and commentators often blame ‘bad parenting’ for children and young people’s troublesome behaviour. What can research tell us about the influence of parenting, especially the parent-child relationships in millions of ‘ordinary’ families?

These seven reports review existing research on:

  • Parenting and outcomes for children
  • Parenting and resilience
  • Fathers and fatherhood
  • Parenting and ethnicity
  • Children’s views of parenting
  • Parenting and poverty
  • Barriers to inclusion

They include research based on the perspectives of mothers, fathers and children themselves. They were commissioned by the JRF to inform its own Parenting Research and Development programme.

Parenting and outcomes for children
Thomas G. O’ Connor and Stephen Scott
Looks at a wide range of outcome studies on how parents shape their children’s development.

Parenting and resilience
Malcolm Hill, Anne Stafford, Peter Seaman, Nicola Ross and Brigid Daniel
Considers parents’ contributions to children’s and their own ‘resilience’, identifying opportunities to build on rather than problems to treat.

Fathers and fatherhood: connecting the strands of diversity
Charlie Lewis and Michael E. Lamb
Reviews dimensions of fathering that need consideration when understanding men’s roles in contemporary families.

Parenting and ethnicity
Ann Phoenix and Fatima Husain
Highlights available British studies and a much larger body of American research exploring assumptions about how ‘race’ affects parenting.

Children’s views and experiences of parenting
Nicola Madge and Natasha Willmott
Focuses on research with children rather than research about children.

The relationship between parenting and poverty
Ilan Katz, Judy Corlyon, Vincent La Placa and Sarah Hunter
Considers whether poverty itself affects parenting, or whether other characteristics of living in poverty, such as mental health and education, affect parenting and economic circumstances.

Barriers to inclusion and successful engagement of parents in mainstream services
Ilan Katz, Vincent La Placa and Sarah Hunter
Examines the barriers to parents’ engagement with support services, and how services – including health, education, social services, youth justice and leisure – have successfully overcome them.

A man and a woman standing in front of a building and trees.

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