Childhood, well-being, parenting

Childhood, well-being, parenting

A project led by Professor Claude Martin, and supported by the Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales. Running between 2017 and 2020, the project comprised international seminars, publication and other dissemination exercises. It’s aims were:

  • Write and provide summaries (working papers) of international literature to understand what is involved in promoting the well-being of children and youth.
  • Exploit data from major international surveys to formulate new hypotheses and offer a new analysis.
  • Coordinate an international network through seminars and an international symposium on well-being, its promotion and evaluation, the respective roles of parents and public policies in the socialisation of children.

Members of CPCS were honoured to be part of the project.

More on the project here 

Read the special issue of Lien social et Politiques, ‘Le déterminisme parental en question : la « parentalisation » du social’ []

Articles are published in French, with English translation available for selected pieces.

The special issue includes an Introduction by the editors Claude Martin and Xavier Leloup, ‘La parentalisation du social’ []

Ellie Lee and Jan Macvarish write about ‘The ‘helicopter parent’ and the paradox of intensive parenting in the 21st century’ []


The term ‘helicopter parent’ has become highly visible in public and professional commentary about parenting and in culture more generally, notably in North America and the UK. A small body of sociological work has highlighted the paradox of this phenomenon, given by often dramatised expressions of concern with ‘excessive’ parental involvement with children associated with the term, within a culture of intensive parenting. This article builds on this work in two ways. We situate the now ubiquitous description of parental mistakes as ‘helicoptering’ by discussing discursive antecedents of the present label found in 20th century terminology such as ‘overparenting’, ‘smothering’ and ‘coddling’, noting their co-existence with accounts of ‘bad mothers’ as distant and uninvolved. Second, through analysis of the term ‘helicopter parent’ in the British news media in the late 20th and 21st centuries, we assess how present concerns with parental proximity to children are constructed. We found the most prominent themes in media coverage to be parental love ‘gone wrong’, parental ‘pushiness’, and the class position of the helicopter parent. We suggest our analysis shows the ‘helicopter parent’ can be best understood as an aspect of 21st century vernacular, expressing recoil at the perceived outcomes of intensive parenting, but leaving its basic premises regarding parental culpability for individual and social pathologies intact. We conclude that, for sociologists, an important feature of the helicopter parent term is the characterisation of problem parents as middle class and suggest this construction of the cause of parental deficiencies is an important concern for the study of parenting culture going forward.

Ashley Frawley reports her research on, ‘‘Supporting the Sacred Journey’: Causal stories and the ‘problem’ of Indigenous Parenting’ []


This article explores “causal stories” (Stone, 1989) in constructions of social problems experienced by Canadian Indigenous peoples in six documents focusing on Indigenous families and parenthood produced by a variety of official agencies. Two recurrent themes in causal stories were identified: “cultural deprivation through disruption” and “parenting as root of problems”. Solutions tended to focus on building strength through support and cultural renewal, the latter appearing as glocalised mainstream Euro-American therapeutic discourses and parenting advice. It is argued that attention is potentially deflected from material inequalities, while glocalised therapeutic and parenting discourses may act as a Trojan horse for greater intervention into and monitoring of family life.