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Doubtful About Parenting Skills? You’re Doing Great!

15 Nov 2023

Young couple showing off their parenting skills by playing with two happy kids
  • 46% of parents doubted their own parenting skills
  • 42% parents actively seeking parenting advice or education in the last 12 months
  • 56% of parents are concerned about the amount of time they have available to spend with their kids (up from 51% in 2022)

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 have to spend with their kids. The good news is that parents can give themselves a break.

The fifth annual nib State of the Nation Parenting Survey results show that 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.

Parental doubts

The survey found that 46% of parents doubted their own parenting skills (up from 42% last year), and 56% worry about the amount of time they have available to spend with their kids (up from 51% in 2022).

One parent said she “Feel[s] like I’m failing them, trying to raise happy healthy children in such troubling times.” Female, 35 – 39, NZ European, mainly secondary children.

Despite these doubts and challenges, many parents are actively seeking parenting advice (42%), 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 on cost of living.

Nathan Wallis, nib resident parenting expert and neuroscience educator 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% 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 is the reason I partnered with nib to better support parents with free online parenting advice and resources,” said Mr Wallis.

Parents are seeking advice from websites (58%), social media (49%), friends and family (49%), experts (38%), books (31%) and podcasts (24%).

Role 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,” adds Mr Wallis.

Over three quarters (77%) of parents felt confident when it comes to encouraging their kids to be proactive about their health. When parents role model eating nutritious food and exercising their kids do too.

Parents are motivated by their children (85%) more than their own needs and desires (79%) when it comes to looking after their own health, wanting to be a good influence (67%) and ‘show up’ for their kids (56%).

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% in 2020 to 44% this year.

Another mother said, “Lack of time. I am trying to work a full-time 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.” Female, 30 – 34, NZ European, mainly secondary children.

One in six parents surveyed (17%) needed to get a secondary source of income due to rising cost of living and about a quarter (24%) of parents have no external sources of support to help care for their children (close or extended family, childcare centre friends, neighbours, babysitter).

Over half (56%) of parents are concerned about the amount of available time they have to spend with their kids (up from 51% in 2022). Despite this, parents surveyed are spent on average 11 hours with their kids on weekdays and 13 hours on weekends. Mr Wallis says that 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 ten 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 blowing 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 multitasking 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 Mr Wallis.

Mr Wallis says parents should cut themselves some slack, they are doing a great job, and they 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 Mr Wallis.