State of the Nation Parenting Survey

Friday, December 8, 2023

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Dear Pastors

State of the Nation Parenting Survey

Something a little different today. I would like to introduce you to a recent parenting survey (State of the Nation Parenting Survey) undertaken by nib NZ of Kiwi parents and my also guest writer and friend Rob Hennin. Rob is a Christian, a father, a grandfather and CEO of nib NZ. I had the privilege of being Rob and Di’s marriage celebrant in the mid 80’s and serving with Rob on two Boards in more recent years.

Unfortunately, due to cyber security concerns nib were unable to put the survey up on their website. However if you would like a pdf copy please email me by simply hitting reply and I will email it to you. In the meantime however here is an article by parenting expert and neuroscience educator, Nathan Wallis reflecting on the survey.

I would like to recommend that you pass this on to your youth and children’s leadership teams in your church and if you have the facility to all your parents as well.

And now here is Rob’s blog:-

Bobby McFerrin’s song goes “don’t worry, be happy, in every life we have some trouble but when you worry you make it double, don’t worry be happy “

Parents worry about a lot of things. The impact of technology on their children, mental health, managing behavioural issues and their children’s social skills. Parenting expert Nathan Wallis and nib - NZ’s fastest growing Health Insurer have been surveying parents for five years now in their annual State of the Nation Parenting survey providing a snapshot of life for Kiwi parents and how that impacts the health and wellbeing of their whānau.

The results reveal almost half (49%) of all parents surveyed said financial uncertainty is main source of household stress (up from 41% in 2022, 35% in 2021). This is closely followed by balancing work and parenting (44%), and inflation impacting the ability to manage debt and mortgage repayments (39%). Just under 70% of parents said that the cost of living has impacted the way they raise their children.

To make ends meet 19% of parents are going without some essentials like petrol, heating or even skipping meals. This is particularly the case with secondary school aged children. This is even worse for Māori parents, affecting 26% - this has doubled from last year. 51% of parents said they were eating fewer fresh vegetables, and 40% said they were eating more processed foods.

So, are our parenting skills up to scratch? Half of Kiwi parents worry that they aren’t good enough parents, that they don’t spend enough time with their children or keep up with other parents sufficiently well enough. Holidays, birthday parties and the need to have the latest technology and toys are the main areas parents feel pressure to keep up. Different ethnic groups feel different pressures when it comes to keeping up. Tutoring and learning a second language are common issues for parents of teens.

There is lots more to learn from the survey and I’ll just touch on one more – devices. Parents are very worried about technology and in particularly distractions, predators, bullying and inappropriate content. The use of technology and the impact of screen time is the number one concern that parents have for their children. Parents are also concerned about negative behaviours they have seen from their children because of device usage.

Parenting is a huge responsibility. I wasn’t prepared 30 years ago and I’m trying to stay current and relevant now for my granddaughter. Proverbs 22:6 is one of my favourites” Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it”.

One thing I’ve learnt is, that in difficult situations, is to ‘calm the heck down”. I have been in tough situations when talking louder, moving faster, doing more and trying harder rarely work.

When something worries me on my boat (such as bad weather, an engine problem or an unwell passenger) I try to slow things down so that I can think and be purposeful with my actions. In all cases you don’t want to make things worse. It really helps if you have prepared in advance and have all the right equipment at hand for the situation. But sometimes you do not, you work with what you’ve got, deal with the biggest issues first and try not to ‘do no harm’.

When facing challenges, like parenting, here are some of my survival tips:

  • Focus on things within your control – so many things in life aren’t so ‘why worry’?
  • Accept change – life is different to when we were growing up and we’re much better off.
  • Prioritise relationships – parents with strong family and personal and social networks have more help.
  • Don’t avoid the problems – but avoid negative people.
  • Don’t forget to breathe - many poor reactions and bad decisions are caused by not enough oxygen to the brain.

The Parenting Survey findings are confronting and show the immense financial pressure parents are under. It’s clear that parents want what’s best for their kids and they are doing the best they can. Matthew 6:34 is pretty similar to Bobby McFerrin’s advice” do not worry about tomorrow, each day has enough trouble of its own “


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