When I think of the pre-Internet days when we raised our children, I realize how easy we had it: Exposure to pornography? We checked under their beds to see if they were hiding any risque magazines. The danger of strangers? We told them not to take candy from anyone they didn't know. Bullying? We called the offender's parents and talked to them about the problem.
The Internet changed that calculus. But that's only the beginning of the challenges our kids-as-parents face. A recent Pew Research Center report looked at the different landscape and attitude changes our kids face in or have about raising their children. Spoiler alert: It's not all bad news, especially the last point.
Among the findings:
Non-traditional living arrangements. Today, 69% of children younger than 18 are living with two parents, down from 87% in 1960. In 2014, fewer than half of children lived in a household with two married parents in their first marriage, down from 73% in 1960.
Everyday worries. Six-in-ten parents say they worry that their children might be bullied at some point. At least half also worry that their children might struggle with anxiety or depression (54%) or that their child could be kidnapped (50%).
White parents are more likely than black parents to say they worry that their children might struggle with anxiety or depression (58% vs. 35%) or that they could have problems with drugs or alcohol (40% vs. 23%). Black parents, in turn, are about twice as likely as white parents to say they worry that their child could get shot at some point (39% vs. 22%).
Child care. Across all income groups, majorities of parents with children under 6 years old say it’s hard to find high-quality, affordable child care in their community. Four-in-ten parents with school-aged children say it is hard to find high-quality, affordable after-school activities and programs for their children. This is especially the case for lower-income parents.
Involvement with school. 46% of those with school-aged children say they wish they could be more involved, while slightly more (53%) say they are satisfied with the way things are. There are no clear links between parents’ income or education and views of their own involvement in their child’s education. However, black parents (58%) are more likely than white and Hispanic parents (43% and 41%, respectively) to say they wish they could be doing more when it comes to their child’s education.
How they rate themselves as parents. They seem to be more confident than we were. According to Pew, the younger they are, the more likely the moms are to give themselves high marks: 57% of Millennial moms say they are doing a very good job raising their kids, compared with 48% of Gen X and 41% of Baby Boomer moms--and 43% of Millennial dads.
They care what we think. 72% of those with a living parent want their own parents to think they’re doing a good job raising their kids. Smaller but substantive shares also care a lot that their friends (52%) and people in their community (45%) see them as good parents.