Contemporary Parenting and Parenthood

From News Headlines to New Research

by Michelle Y. Janning, Editor


Research shows that parents are less happy than non-parents are and that this "happiness gap" is especially pronounced in the United States.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Contemporary Parenting and Parenthood

November 2018


Pages 351
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Society
  Women's Studies/General

Headlines from news sources are combined with the latest and best social science research to offer scholars, practitioners, and parents a much-needed source for understanding contemporary American parenthood.

News and social media headlines abound with contradictory stories about parents, from tales of neglect to fear of helicopter parenting. What readers know about parenting and parenthood can stem from misinformation and oversimplification.

In Contemporary Parenting and Parenthood, a wide variety of contributors share research on topics ranging from international adoption to technology to talking with children about racial issues. Scholars, students, parents, and practitioners alike will find that this book breaks new ground in terms of its timely approach, its spotlight on current topics, and its attention to thinking through exaggerated and conflicting media claims about contemporary parenting. Importantly, the book focuses on both parenting, the lived experiences of parents, and parenthood, the social and cultural construction of parenthood in today's world, making it a resource for those interested in the truth of the everyday lives of American parents.


  • Includes up-to-date research on parenting topics covered in news stories
  • Incorporates the expertise of editor Michelle Janning, an award-winning teacher and leader in national organizations dedicated to family studies
  • Helps to clarify parenting debates through sociological inquiry, instead of giving advice on how to parent
  • Serves multiple audiences, including students and practitioners in professions working with parent-child relationships, scholars looking for the best new research in the field of parenting and parenthood, and parents who want to understand the larger context in which they operate on a daily basis
  • Offers a range of viewpoints on parenting issues in a clearly organized format
Author Info

Michelle Y. Janning, PhD, is professor of sociology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, and board member of the Council on Contemporary Families. She teaches and writes about contemporary family life, with a focus on the intersections of family relations and material culture, including technology. She is author of The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives. Her research and commentary have been featured in popular print, radio, and television pieces including Wisconsin Public Radio, Real Simple, WCCO (CBS) Television in Minneapolis, the New York Public Library Council's Bytegeist podcast, and The Washington Post.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Michelle Janning xi

Part One
Changing Patterns in Contemporary Parenting and Parenthood

Chapter 1 Helicopter Parents: A New Moral Panic? 3
Margaret K. Nelson

Chapter 2 World's Okayest Mom: The Adaptive Management Parent 31
Valerie Adrian

Chapter 3 The Changing Landscape of Parent–Adult Child Relations 51
Joshua Coleman

Chapter 4 Parenthood in the Age of Apps and Mommy Blogs:Technology and Digital Culture in Parent–ChildRelations 67
Michelle Y. Janning

Chapter 5 Parenthood and Mental Health in the United States: Why Don't Children Improve Adults' Emotional Well-Being? 90
Robin W. Simon

Part Two
Work, Family, and Leisure for Parents

Chapter 6 Parental Leave Programs: What Do We Know about Designing Good Policies? 119
Ankita Patnaik

Chapter 7 The Promise and Limits of Work-Family Supports in a Shifting Policy Landscape: A Double Bind for Working Mothers in Western Germany 141
Caitlyn Collins

Chapter 8 Parenthood and Leisure Time Disparities 168
Liana Sayer

Part Three Inequalities

Chapter 9 Understanding Inequality: Children, Consumer Culture, and the Empathy Framework 199
Allison J. Pugh

Chapter 10 Do We Talk about Race/Ethnicity with our Children or Not? Variations in Parental Ethnic-Racial Socialization Strategies 216
Erin Pahlke

Chapter 11 What Do Visas Have to Do with Parenting? Middle-Class Dependent Visa Holders and Transcultural Parenting 237
Pallavi Banerjee

Chapter 12 Lost in Detention and Deportation—"Found" through Foster Care and Adoption: Reviewing the Tensionsbetween Family Building and Human Rights in the United States 258
Pamela Anne Quiroz

Chapter 13 Child Well-Being in Same-Gender-Parent Families: Courts, Media, and Social Science Research 283
Marshal Neal Fettro and Wendy D. Manning

Chapter 14 Reproducing Family: How Parents Accept Their LGB Children's "Good" Families 302
Taylor Field Quiroga

Conclusion 323

About the Editor and Contributors 327

Index 331



"Michelle Janning has edited a must-have collection that offers research-based perspectives for parents overwhelmed with 'how-to' books and images of perfection on social media. The expertly-written chapters are relevant, timely, and informative; they offer variety at the same time they collectively navigate common concerns related to helicopter parenting, technology, mental health, public policy, and social inequalities. This book is an important resource for parent educators and for those whose courses focus on parenting, early childhood, and the relationship between the child, family, and community. "—Samantha Bowen, Director, Early Childhood and Parenting Education Programs, Walla Walla Community College

"This collection of articles on parenthood is both smart and engaging. For an introduction to the sociology of contemporary parenthood, I've seen none better."—Frank Furstenberg, Zellerbach Family Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

"Parenting has become fraught with tension, insecurity, and worry. Family structure changes and increased family complexity are accelerating at a head-spinning rate, and children have changed from being family income producers to costly investments. There is no lack of parenting advice in these changing times, but much of it is either based on opinion and personal experience or filled with such excessive jargon that it is difficult for those not steeped in the same jargon to understand. Under the skilled guidance of editor Michelle Y. Janning, Contemporary Parenting and Parenthood: From News Headlines to New Research is solidly research-based but accessible to a broad audience—a true gem."—Marilyn Coleman, Distinguished Curator's Professor Emerita, University of Missouri, and Lawrence Ganong, Chancellor's Professor at the University of Missouri

"Modern parenting is often confusing. Rapid demographic and technological change have reshaped family life in ways we are all struggling to understand, and news and social media coverage of family life often raises more questions than it answers. In this original and innovative volume, leading social scientists and family scholars look past the headlines to explain and clarify some of the most hotly debated (and sometimes sensationalized) issues in contemporary parenting. Meticulously researched yet enjoyably readable, this book provides parents, academics, policy makers, and family practitioners with a clear and accessible overview of the scientific evidence on the nature, joys, and challenges of 21st century parenting."—Kristi Williams, PhD, Professor of Sociology, The Ohio State University, and Editor, Journal of Marriage and Family

Other Titles of Interest

Parenting in Transracial Adoption cover imageThe Challenges of Gifted Children cover imageSexualized Media Messages and Our Children cover image
Media Violence and Children cover imageThe Educated Parent 2 cover image

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