New research brief looks at which parents are less likely to seek parenting support
16 December, 2021
A research brief published by the Parenting Research Centre shows that parents are most likely to turn to family and friends when they need parenting support, but most are also willing to seek out professional help. But there are sections of the community that are less likely to seek out parenting support when they need it most.
Principal Research Specialist at the Parenting Research Centre, Dr Catherine Wade, says by understanding the barriers these parents face when they need help, parenting support professionals are in a better position to put themselves on these parents’ radar.
“Our recently-published parental help-seeking research brief found that parents who reported that their children were experiencing behavioural or emotional problems were less likely to know where to get professional help,” said Dr Wade.
“Fathers and parents in paid employment were also identified as having lower rates of help seeking, while parents experiencing poor mental health and those from non-English speaking backgrounds reported that they were less likely to turn to family for parenting support,” she said.
The research brief is part of a suite of reports informed by 2019 data from the Parenting Today in Victoria study – a comprehensive three-yearly survey of the concerns, needs and behaviours of Victorian parents conducted by the Parenting Research Centre.
The parental help-seeking research brief has evidence-based information that can assist practitioners and professionals who support parents to target the parents who might need help, but are not accessing support services.
The brief details what gets in the way of parents accessing the support they need – information that could help practitioners come up with new or different ways of reaching parents who are reluctant, or just don’t know how to ask for professional help.
Dr Wade says the data suggests informal support from extended family members is most parents’ first port-of-call for support.
“Taking this into account, we might ask whether professionals could be better communicating to grandparents, aunts or uncles? Next on the list when parents need help are teachers, GPs, psychologists and nurses – so we need to ensure educators and health professionals are equipped with the right information and resources to assist parents. Parents in paid employment reported being less likely to access parenting support services – maybe online or out-of-hours parenting groups can help here? These are just some of the ways we might be able to apply our findings to better support parents,” she said.
To read more about parental help seeking, download the 2019 Parenting Today in Victoria parental help-seeking research brief.
Find more evidence-based information on parenting support in the suite of research briefs compiled from the latest survey data on the Parenting Today in Victoria website.
Other available research briefs include:
- Child sleep
- Parental self-care and self-compassion
- Parental use of technology
- Quality of life
- Information seeking.
About the Parenting Research Centre
The Parenting Research Centre helps children thrive by driving new and better ways to support families in their parenting. We help governments and community organisations in the fields of health, education and welfare put the best evidence on parenting support into action through research and evaluation, knowledge translation and exchange, practice design and implementation projects.
About the Parenting Today in Victoria survey
In 2016, the Parenting Research Centre conducted the most comprehensive survey made to date into the concerns, needs and behaviours of Victorian parents. The survey was repeated in 2019, which helped us to understand where parents are faring well, where they’ve made progress, and where they still need help. The next survey will take place in early 2022.
This study, funded by the Victorian Government, paints a picture of how Australia’s parents think and feel about parenting and their relationships with their children.
Stephanie Childs, Strategic Communications Manager, Parenting Research Centre