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The Parenting Index

5 mins


There are universal challenges for parents, no matter where in the world they are raising their children.

The Parenting Index is a new lens to help understand the experiences of parents today.

This new Index provides a quantitative measure that informs how all parts of society can better support parents.

Parents holding and smiling at a baby

Parenting and the challenges

Parenting is one of life’s greatest experiences, however; the reality of parenting is complex, and there is no single way in which it is approached.1 Every day is unique.

The World Health Organisation2 (WHO) recommends that to promote healthy childhood development,3 all infants should receive responsive care especially in the first three years of life and parents should be supported to provide responsive and nurturing care.

In this article, Registered dietitian Anne Dattilo addresses the challenges parents encounter, and that recognising these challenges will help give understanding on how society will be better able to support mums and dads along their parenting journey.

The Parenting Index

The parenting index is a new report that aimed to describe the realities of parenting today. It identifies key factors which impact the ease of parenting around the world.

This research was based on a quantitative survey of 8000 parents in 16 countries. It is not a measure of “right” or “wrong”, but was based on standard survey research approaches,4 to identify factors that impact the ease of parenting of infants and young children.

Key factors which impact the ease of parenting

Eight key factors were identified in the index, the factors that affect parents are universal, no matter where in the world they are raising their children.

Of the eight key factors identified in the Index, pressure has the biggest effect on how easy it is to be a parent (see figure 1 in the download below). The pressure variable includes not just the pressure parents put on themselves to do their best for their children, but pressures from the outside world too, whether from family, friends, or society.

Other factors, including financial resilience, supports for working life, parent perception of having an easy baby, access to adequate healthcare, and trustworthy information about health and wellbeing also play a role in the challenges parents across the world face every day. The insights from the Parenting Index reveal a roadmap for all areas of society, including employers, to better understand and provide support for parents

Top 3 factors that make up 55% of the index

  • Pressure: Inside & Out (22.6%)
  • Financial Resilience (16.7%)
  • Support for Working Life (15.6%).

Some other key findings

Parenting does not become easier with a second child; parenting experience does not change the judgment of others, improve finances, or make work and life balance easier.

While there is no magic formula, parents who report they have flexible working hours are more likely to feel greater ease in parenting.

The Parenting Index is a new lens through which to understand how individuals and society can better support parents.

For more information on the parenting index, key factors that impact the ease of parenting and key results, please download the article below.

The Parenting Index is research conducted by Kantar and commissioned by Nestle.

  1. Munns A, Watts R, Hegney D, Walker R. Effectiveness and experiences of families and support workers participating in peer-led parenting support programs delivered as home visiting programs: A comprehensive systematic review. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2016;10:167-208.

  2. World Health Organization. Improving early childhood development: WHO guideline. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

  3. Black MM, Walker SP, Fernald LCH, Andersen CT, DiGirolamo AM, Lu C et al. Early childhood development coming of age: science through the life course. Lancet. 2017; 389(10064):77-90.

  4. Vernarelli JA and Millen, B. Survey research planning and questionnaire design. In Research: Successful approaches in nutrition and dietetics, Eds., Linda Van Horn and Judith Beto. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago, IL. 2019; pp 230-249.