Has Parenting Changed over Past Decade? A Qualitative Study of Generational Shifts in Parenting
International Journal of Social Science and Humanity
Although the importance of taking a historical perspective in understanding a phenomenon has been well-recognized, attempt to study generational shifts in parenting is almost non-existent in Hong Kong. Contemporary parenting is characterized as fraught with problemsanxieties about children's well-being and one's own adequacy as a parent and worries about adverse consequences of parenting on one's children. Rhetoric abounds, such as -irresponsible parenting‖, -overprotective parenting‖, -anxious
... arenting‖, -anxious parents‖, -helicopter parents‖, and -monster parents‖. Such vernaculars are frequently found in the mass media sounding alarm over the state of contemporary parenthood. However, there are only few studies tracing how contemporary parenthood has come to be characterized as such. In retrospect as practitioners and researchers, we reckon that certain generational shifts in -themes‖ of parenthood are discernible. This study seeks to unravel these generational shifts in parenthood in the recent history of Hong Kong evolving into modern city. This study covered discourse analysis of 48 sampled items of primers on parenting and parent education resource materials, and 120 life story interviews with 60 parents, each being interviewed individually twice. The respondents were recruited to represent five parent-cohorts -first-time parents in the 1970's or before, in the 80's, in the 90's, in the 2000's and in the 2010's. Each parent-cohort was made up of 6 mothers and 6 fathers, giving a total sample of 30 mothers and 30 fathers. Reporting our preliminary findings, this paper explores generational shifts in parenting discourse and people's experience of parenthood over the past decades and examines how contextual factors and discursive formations promoted by parenting professionals have shaped and re-shaped parenting in Hong Kong in the past five decades.