Parents doubt their parenting skills – “but they’re doing a great job”, says one nib parenting expert.
But Māori parents surveyed agree their children will have more opportunities in their adult life than them (79 per cent vs 66 per cent) and are more socially aware than they were at their age about issues like environmental impacts, mental health, gender identity etc (73 per cent vs 64 per cent).
Just under half of parents surveyed by nib are concerned about their own parenting skills, and even more are concerned about the amount of time they spend with their kids. The good news is that parents can give themselves a break.
The results of the fifth annual nib State of the Nation Parenting Survey show parents are struggling under increasing pressure but care deeply about their kids, are role modelling good habits and behaviours and are looking after their own and their kids’ health for the long term.
The survey found 46 per cent of parents doubted their own parenting skills (up from 42 per cent last year), and 56 per cent worry about the amount of time they have available to spend with their kids (up from 51 per cent in 2022).
One parent said she “feels like I’m failing them, trying to raise happy healthy children in such troubling times”.
Despite these doubts and challenges, many parents are actively seeking parenting advice (42 per cent), and on average, the parents surveyed spent an average of 11 hours on weekdays with their kids. Juggling the demands of the household, work and parenting is tough, but parents are managing to do this, even with greater external pressures such as the cost of living.
Nib resident parenting expert and neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis says Kiwi parents are doing a great job and need to go easy on themselves.
“Parents tend to be hard on themselves. Many doubt their skills, but this survey in itself shows how much they care and how much they want to get it right. It’s great to see parents taking such an active role in parenting - in the last 12 months, 42 per cent of parents have sought out advice, mainly online, on parenting styles and skills, discipline and behaviour and building resilience in children.
“These are things parents ask me about all the time, and are the reason I partnered with nib: to better support parents with free online parenting advice and resources,” said Wallis.
Parents are seeking advice from websites (58 per cent), social media (49 per cent), friends and family (49 per cent), experts (38 per cent), books (31 per cent) and podcasts (24 per cent).
Modelling healthy behaviours
“It’s really encouraging to see Kiwi parents are great role models for their kids. The majority of parents are setting good examples for their kids when it comes to health and wellbeing, and they’re motivated to look after their own health for their kids,” Wallis added.
Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of parents felt confident when it came to encouraging their kids to be proactive about their health. When parents role-model eating nutritious foods and exercising, their kids do too.
Parents are motivated by their children (85 per cent) more than their own needs and desires (79 per cent) when it comes to looking after their own health, wanting to be a good influence (67 per cent) and “showing up” for their kids (56 per cent).
A balancing act, but parents doing a great job
When it comes to balancing parenting and working, this is getting harder. The number of parents who said that balancing work and parenting was a key source of stress has ballooned from 27 per cent in 2020 to 44 per cent this year.
Another mother said, “Lack of time. I am trying to work a fulltime job, run a household (laundry, cooking, cleaning etc.), spend quality time with my two kids and husband, and get enough sleep. I find it a real challenge.”
One in six parents surveyed (17 per cent) needed to get a secondary source of income due to the rising cost of living, and about a quarter (24 per cent) of parents have no external sources of support to help care for their children (close or extended family, childcare centre friends, neighbours, babysitters).
Over half (56 per cent) of parents are concerned about the amount of available time they have to spend with their kids (up from 51 per cent in 2022). Despite this, parents surveyed are spent on average 11 hours with their kids on weekdays and 13 hours on weekends. Wallis says there are still ways to connect with your kids when you’re short on time.
“Juggling the demands of work and home with parenting can be tough, and many parents feel like they don’t get to spend enough quality time with their kids. When time is tight, a 10-minute ‘mate date’ at the same time each week helps build a routine and predictability that your child will look forward to. During these times, do any activity they want to do - build a blanket fort, draw a picture or blow bubbles, just let go and enjoy yourself. The key is regular, dedicated, quality time with no distractions.”
“When parents are busy, it’s easy to fall into the multi-tasking trap, but it’s often counterproductive. It’s better to finish what you’re doing, then give your child your full undivided attention. Just like us, when kids feel heard, it lifts their mood and wellbeing, so listen to and acknowledge your child’s views and feelings - it can go a long way to building a strong relationship and helping your kids be happier, healthier and more resilient,” said Wallis.
Wallis says parents should cut themselves some slack: they are doing a great job, and don’t have to be perfect.
“We invest a lot in parenting because it’s one of the most important things we’re ever going to do. Parenting is hard and there’s no such thing as the perfect parent, so be kind to yourself. You’re doing a wonderful job,” added Wallis.