Help children thrive

Parenting Today in Victoria: 2019 survey

The evidence shows that children thrive when parents are well supported. But how do we know what kind of help parents need the most?

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In 2016, we conducted the most comprehensive survey made to date into the concerns, needs and behaviours of Victorian parents.

This study was called ‘Parenting Today in Victoria’, and painted a picture of how Australia’s parents think and feel about parenting and their relationships with their children.

In 2019 we repeated the study.

By doing this periodic check-in with a sample of Victoria’s parents, we’re able to understand where parents are faring well, where they’ve made progress, and where they still need help.

If you need help turning this evidence into action and impact, get in touch with our team here.

2,600

primary caregivers of children under 19 years

59%

of these were women

41%

of these were men

Aged between

20-85 years
Less than 2%

identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

75%

were from urban areas

25%

of parents were from rural areas

96%

were the child's biological mother or father

Parents were interviewed in English or one of five community languages.

The 2019 survey found that overall, Victorian parents are faring well.

They generally feel confident in their parenting skills and abilities, and most have someone that they can turn to for support.

However, the survey also found that many continue to be challenged by their child(ren)’s sleeping patterns or habits, and are concerned with their child(ren)’s technology usage. Many also reported that they themselves struggle with their mental and physical health.

We’ve summarised the main findings of the survey below, categorised by focus area. For further information on each of these focus areas, head to the bottom of the page and download the study’s Research Briefs.

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Parenting is a learning journey

When asked if parenting can be learned:

59%
thought parenting is something that can be learned

When asked if government should play a role:

46%
thought that governments should play a role in supporting families with parenting

And most of the time, we feel pretty good about it

When asked about how they felt about parenting:

85%
said they find parenting enjoyable
90%
were confident in their parenting
93%
said they find parenting rewarding

We find that positive approaches make for better outcomes

81%

of parents said they often used positive strategies, such as praise, for good behaviour

77%

of parents said they usually talked to their children about problems and issues

But it's not always smooth sailing

When asked about what they wish they did differently:

44%

said they regret their impatience
with their children

2016 2019
29%

wished they were more consistent
in their parenting

2016 2019

40% of fathers and 48% of mothers felt
too tired to be the parents they want to be

When asked if they find parenting
challenging:

22%

said they argued with or yelled at their child
quite a lot or very much

2016 2019
36%

said their children's sleep was a problem
for them.

2016 2019
23%

said parenting is frustrating

76%

said parenting is demanding

27%

of parents said they smack their child when they misbehave

65%

were worried about their children's future

Get 'em learning early

When asked if they think preschool age learning experiences are important for children:

75%

of parents believed what they did with their children at home at this time was extremely important for their children's later development

63%

of parents believed early childhood eduction and care (ECEC) and kindergarten learning was
extremely important for their children's later development

48%

of babies and toddlers were being read to 7 days a week

2016 2019

When asked if they have positive interactions with their children's educators:

79%

were satisfied with communications with their child's educators

0-2 years
3-5 years
6-12 years
13-18 years

100%

50%

0%

However, parents of secondary school aged children reported relatively less satisfaction than parents of younger children

90%

felt welcome at their child’s school, kinder or childcare

0-2 years
3-5 years
6-12 years
13-18 years

100%

50%

0%

However, parents of older children were less likely to agree they felt welcome

65%

said homework is important for children’s learning

3-5 years
6-12 years
13-18 years

100%

50%

0%

63%
felt the amount of homework their child is given is ‘about right’
71%
said they see it as their job to help their child with homework

Screens are on the brain

When asked about if they are worried about technology use:

42%

of parents said their children spent too much time on electronic devices

2016 2019
55%

‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ they used their own mobile phone or device too much

It takes a village...and good internet connection

When asked if they feel support is close at hand:

86%

have someone they can turn to for parenting advice

2016 2019
84%

said they know where to get professional help for their children, if they need it

69%

felt their community was safe for children

77%

said they are satisfied with the help they received from professionals like GPs and educators

After friends and family, the internet is the biggest source of information for parenting with

83%

of parents saying that they use the internet for parenting information

2016 2019

When asked if they feel supported by their partner:

89%

felt understood and supported by their parenting partner

2016 2019
74%

felt child care and parenting duties are shared fairly

Fathers were happier than mothers with the way parenting and child care duties are shared in the family

But parents can struggle to find time to recharge

When asked about how they look after themselves:

55%
said they regularly do things to relax and re-energise

Fathers are more likely to do something for themselves regularly to relax/re-energise than mothers.

Many have had mental health
challenges:

76%

said they have had symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress since having children

6%

reported serious levels of current psychological distress and

31%

reported moderate levels of current psychological distress

Fathers reported better
mental health than
mothers, and parents of
children with complex
needs were less likely to
report good mental health

Parents are feeling generally healthy

Though many are feeling generally less
healthy than in 2016:

79%

reported good physical health

2016 2019
72%

reported good mental health

2016 2019

And time is scarce

Many parents report feeling time-poor:

49%

of parents were dissatisfied or had mixed feelings about the amount of time they could give their children

2016 2019
34%

of fathers and

37%

of mothers said their workplace isn’t flexible enough, or they have mixed feelings about it

46%

felt they don’t have enough time to get everything done

The Victorian Government is committed to providing evidence-based services and supports to all families, and critical to this is a thorough understanding of parents concerns and challenges. Through the Parenting Today in Victoria survey, the Parenting Research Centre is helping us ensure that all children and families have the support they need.

Policy maker, Victorian Government

The Parenting Research Centre specialises in helping leaders, policymakers and practitioners to design, adapt, implement and evaluate effective and evidence-based tools and programs to support thriving families.

Have you seen something in the ‘Parenting Today in Victoria: 2019’ findings that you’d like to chat about, or is particularly relevant to your organisation or program? Get in touch with our team of experts to find out how we can help.

To dig into the detailed findings for each of the focus areas, download the study's Research Briefs below.

Child sleep

Child sleep presents a big challenge for many parents, consistent with previous research suggesting 30–50% of parents describe their child’s sleep as problematic

DOWNLOAD
Parental self-care and self-compassion

The way parents look after themselves has a powerful influence on their children. However, almost 25% of parents do not regularly practise self-care.

DOWNLOAD
You can download the full technical reports for the 2019 survey and the 2016 survey.

You can also watch and then share our video.

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