Has parenting become harder?

Three children running on a beach. Has parenting become harder?

I was on the radio last week. It was the first time I’d been on the air in a couple of years and I really enjoyed it. The topic of conversation was a belter too: has parenting become harder in the 21st century?

Now, obviously, I’ve only been a parent in this era so it’s a tricky one to argue either way. But it would be really boring to sit on the fence, so my answer was yes.

As all parents know, the responsibility of bringing up children isn’t easy. Not in any generation. But I do think it has become more difficult in my lifetime.

This is because I feel that life has got a lot harder for everyone since I was a kid. By that logic, times are tougher for children and, therefore, their parents.

I’ve actually thought this for a long time so, while the Coronavirus pandemic has more than exacerbated things, it doesn’t figure in why I think parenting is more challenging now.

There are a few reasons for this. The first is technology and the resultant access to information. There are so many things competing for our attention these days and it’s almost impossible to get through a day without being distracted multiple times.

This can’t be good for attention spans.¬†Or mental health, for that matter. Like many others, I struggle on this front and being bombarded with information makes things worse. In short, it’s incredibly difficult to ever be truly switched off.

Bad things happen in every generation but we weren’t privy to nearly as many of them in the 1980s. Of course, it’s important to be aware of dangers but the level of information we have in this age has made me a lot more cautious as a parent. Probably more than I need to be.

Then there’s the fact that we’re taught to always look forward to things rather than live in the now. Of course, we have little choice in this regard at the moment but, as mentioned earlier, I think this pre-dates COVID-19.

We’ve just gone through the interminable countdown to the non-event that is Halloween and now all eyes are on Christmas. I think this is too much for kids and, subsequently, parents.

What about education? It has become much more structured since I was in primary school. There are more assessments too, as well as homework. I’m proud of how well my kids are doing, but it’s dizzying how much complex information even my five-year-old knows that I didn’t until much later on.

So there you go. I definitely think parenting has got harder. This isn’t a whinge, even if it sounds like one. Merely a set of observations.

It’s also important to point out that ‘harder’ shouldn’t be equated with ‘too hard’. I love being a parent and the joy my kids bring me, so will happily wade through this information quagmire for them.

What do you think? Has parenting become harder in your lifetime?


  1. Eddie

    I have to agree with everything you have pointed out here Tom, especially on the Education front. It is a lot more technical and involving what my daughters have experienced at school so far compared to when I was a lad. Great question.

  2. John Adams

    Much harder Tom. Interesting I’ve started studying a module with the Open University about childhood poverty. There are wide ranging implications. Countries like the UK that have followed fee market employment policies have seen an increase in insecure, poorly paid, part time jobs (I guess you could class being a gig economy blogger in that). This has led to an increase of people being officially in poverty while also working, historically something that was unheard of. Essentially life has got more expensive, tech, as you say, means you’re always switched on, there’s masses of traffic so kids won’t play outside and they lead more insular lives. Self harming is on the increase because of the pressure put on kids by schools. yes, it is harder for parents and kids alke.

  3. Ian

    I agree. While the things my 15 year old gets up to are just the modern day equivalent of what I used to get up to, the challenges for kids and parents alike are tougher. The expectations too, seem higher.

    Great post

  4. Pingback: Five ways to ruin a nice family walk - Family life - Diary of the Dad

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