There’s a popular belief that poorer parents are largely worse at parenting that those better-off, since they lack the necessary resources to engage as often in what are considered good parenting practices. University of Bristol researchers topple this thinking after they found that there was no evidence to indicate there was such a difference. Basically, poorer parents were as likely to have helped with homework, attended parents’ evenings, and played sports or games with their children in the previous week, according to the study which surveyed  1,665 UK households. Findings were reported in the journal Sociology.

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“Those with lower incomes or who felt poor were as likely to engage in all of the good parent-child activities as everyone else,” they say in an article published online in the journal Sociology.

“The findings support the view that associations made between low levels of education, poverty and poor parenting are ideologically driven rather than based on empirical evidence. Claims that families who are poor or are less well educated do not engage in high profile good parenting practices are misplaced.”

The scientists scooped data from the ‘2012 Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK’ survey on parents of children aged up to 16 years old. Parents were asked to respond to questions like: “How many days in the past seven days have you, or your partner read stories with your child/children or talked with them about what they are reading?”, “How many days in the past seven days have you, or your partner played games with your child/children e.g. computer games, toys, puzzles, etc.?: or “How many days in the past seven days have you, or your partner eaten an evening meal with your child/children?”.

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When questioned, over 50 per cent of all parents said that during the previous week they had read to their children and played games with them on at least four days. A similar result was found for helping with homework and with eating a meal and watching TV with their children. It also found that 28 per cent of parents had done sports with children at least four days during the previous seven. The team found no evidence of a group of parents who failed to participate in parent-child activities, they say.

“This is potentially important since recent political discourse has not only promoted the idea that poor parenting exists but also emphasised the existence of a group of parents who persistently fail to engage in parenting activities that are beneficial for their children.”

Poorer parents were classes as such if they earner 60% or less than the median household income. The researchers note that the results indicate that poorer parents engaged in a wide range of good parenting practices despite their lack of resources and ideological thinking.

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