Modern Parenting Featured Pattern: P0737 February 2015

Parenting interacts with employment, technology, and society in complex ways, creating friction along social-class lines and raising ethical concerns.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

Research by economists Moshe Hazan of Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Hosny Zoabi of the New Economic School (Moscow, Russia) shows that although the fertility rate of US women with some form of college education has stagnated in the past 30 years, the fertility rate of US women with advanced degrees has increased by more than 50%. Highly educated women tend to make more money than their less-educated counterparts do, and their ability to afford child care and domestic services may be one reason for their increasing fertility rate. Women also pay a professional penalty for parenthood, though. According to a study coauthored by Stanford University (Stanford, California) sociologist Shelly J. Correll, men whose résumés indicated that they are fathers received more job interviews and better salary offers (the fatherhood bonus) than did similarly qualified men whose résumés did not indicate fatherhood. The reverse was true for women (the motherhood penalty). Companies, though, tend to penalize men who take time off from work to care for their children, cancelling out the fatherhood bonus.

The value parents and society assign to children adds a layer of complexity to parenting considerations. Researchers from Utrecht University (Utrecht, Netherlands) and other universities point to narcissism as a cause of parental overvaluation—the unfounded belief that one's children are in every way more special than other children. Overvaluation may cause a distorted self-concept in older children. Japan, in contrast, is struggling with how to value children, and parenting is running into a lack of societal support. Many people who live near nursery schools have complained about noise, resulting in noise restrictions that limit the kinds of play that children require for intellectual development. And older citizens are increasingly avoiding contact with children, which could decrease the sustainability of communities in the long run. More speculative, parental values could directly affect their children. Some nations already allow parents to analyze the genetic information of fertilized human eggs to select the sex of their child. In the future, parents who can afford to do so may review the genetics of each egg and choose the one with the most desirable traits.