A hyper-connected world that makes us all a little more alone. Especially the parents. It is the main evidence of a study that confirms that 1/3 of parents feel lonely, despite the technology that surrounds us. The Parenting Index (www.theparentingindex.com) is the first study of its kind and aims to analyze and investigate the difficulties and challenges that all parents face – everywhere in the world – when a child is born.
The inaugural edition of the Parenting Index, commissioned by Nestlé from Kantar, as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting families in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, identifies 8 universal factors capable of influencing new parenthood. This study represents a further step of the Nestlé Parenting Initiative – an international program on which the company works with the intention of helping to make life easier for parents.
The study of 8,000 mothers and fathers
Based on the opinions of more than 8,000 mothers and fathers of babies aged 0-12 months living in 16 different countries, the study presents itself as an innovative way to evaluate and understand the experiences of parents around the world today.
In this first edition it is clear that the most significant universal factor in influencing the parenting experience is the Pressure. A variable over which new parents have little control, but which has the greatest impact: it contributes in fact to 23% of the overall Index score. It materializes with the judgment from others (also via social media), with the guilt caused by self-criticism, with the unexpected realities of parenting and with the feeling of solitude which paradoxically is felt today, despite living in a hyper-connected world.
In particular, within the Pressure factor, we find:
- Loneliness in a hyper-connected world: 32% of parents say that despite living in a world where friends and family are only a message away, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone with a baby in your arms.
- Social shaming: Globally, half (51%) of parents surveyed feel intense social pressure on how to raise their children and this, today, comes from social media. External pressures are stronger, parents have less control over them and therefore can have a strong impact.
- Parental guilt: 45% of respondents agree that new parents find themselves feeling guilty and that this can have a lasting impact.
- The Unexpected Realities of Parenting: Nearly a third (31%) report feeling unprepared to become a parent and 53% say they face the resulting need to compromise more than expected.
- Unsolicited advice (“the voice of the village”): 60% of respondents feel that everyone has an opinion on how to raise their child, whether they intend to hear the various opinions or not.
Following three accurate surveys on social networks, carried out in as many moments of analysis ranging from October 2019 to December 2020, also in Italy it appears that social pressure, expressed through anxieties, a sense of inadequacy and stress, is the main emotion experienced by new parents. In particular, the importance of carrying out the “right choices“to ensure the health of their children (childbirth, breastfeeding, psycho-physical health, illnesses, serenity) is the main impacting factor in the life of new Italian parents. At the same time, the rights for families (parental leave, subsidies, crèches, other guarantees and concessions from the state), are another source of concern for parents in our country.
The methodology and results of the Parenting Index were reviewed by Dr. Ming Cui, MS in Statistics and Ph.D in Sociology, Scholar at Fulbright US and Professor of Family and Child Sciences at Florida State University (USA). Professor Cui has experience in research methodologies, parenting and child development in different cultures.
Commenting on the report, he says: “Parents today are increasingly living in a state of anxiety (which is reflected in the findings of this report), influenced by the media and technological advancement. Although the emphasis is often placed on being reactive parents. and responsible to their children, mothers and fathers should realize that their well-being is also important in the parenting process. To promote positive parenting and ultimately healthy development of children, parents should not neglect their own well-being and should take care of themselves, leaving empty spaces in their agenda to take a break “.
Although parents can be expected to have felt more pressured as a result of the COVID-19, the analysis of the Parenting Index shows that, during this period, parents felt less social pressure on how to raise their children and felt more mutually supportive, thanks to greater social cohesion and a greater sense of belonging.
Thierry Philardeau, Head of Nestlé Nutrition Strategic Business Unit, said: “We developed the Nestlé Parenting Initiative to help make life easier for parents, so we can better support them in the decisions they make during the crucial first 1,000 days of their baby’s life. And in doing so, we strengthen our 2016 commitment to help 50 million children to lead healthier and happier lives by 2030. The Parenting Index is an important first step to enrich our understanding of the complexities that characterize contemporary parenting. “
“When a child is born, a parent is also born. We believe that all mothers and fathers should feel informed, respected and supported in the choices they make, for themselves and their children. We have already started doing our part, not only with the Parenting Index but also by updating ours Parenting Support Policy global and expanding Nestlé Baby & me – our online educational service for moms and dads. But we cannot create relevant changes on our own, and therefore we ask those who share our vision to join us in making this world an easier place to be parents and raise healthier and happier new generations. “
Every two years, new data
Nestlé will commission The Parenting Index every two years, in order to reflect and shape the international landscape of the parenting experience. As part of its goal to work together with others to make parents’ lives easier, Nestlé also plans to work with relevant partners and host roundtables to establish a workable roadmap on how to address the universal challenges of parenting of 21 Century, as revealed by the insights of this first Parenting Index.