At Care.com, we like to think about parenting trends. A lot.
We’re constantly reflecting on what’s happening now, what’ll happen in the future and how we can help. We’re constantly keeping our eyes out for breaking news reports and trending stories, as well as looking to our own internal data and our community of parents to answer questions like:
How are things evolving in the parenting world? What are the current attitudes about parenting — and about parents themselves? How are parenting styles changing and adapting over time?
Below, you’ll find five parenting trends that we expect to gain momentum in 2017.
1) Grit-Style Parenting
Say goodbye to participation trophies, and hello to teaching kids some grit. Recent studies have shown that the characteristic of grit is the key to happiness and success, and in a world that increasingly values entrepreneurship and the failure that may come along with it, parents are letting their children figure things out on their own and even fail. By teaching children not to quit at the first sign of a setback, parents are showing children how to be resilient and autonomous, along with the lesson that persistence pays off whether there’s a trophy or not.
2) The Minimalist Parent
The minimalist movement that was sparked by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has trickled down to parenting. In lieu of all the “stuff” that children quickly grow out of and tired of, parents are electing for a more pared-down lifestyle for the entire family. These minimalist parents of 2017 are eschewing multitudes of toys, clothes and art projects and saving only items that spark joy, while selling or donating the rest to local charities or parent groups like the ones found on BigTent.com. In addition, minimalist parents are reexamining their children’s schedules and eliminating any sports or lessons the kids don’t truly enjoy.
3) Post-Gender Parenting
From an increase in unisex names in the last decade and the movement to ban the word “bossy” for girls to the elimination of gender toy segregation by mass market retailers and the call for unisex graduation gowns, gender neutrality is being welcomed by a new generation of parents. These parents are challenging stereotypes in an effort to raise their children in an environment where they aren’t confined by gender bias and where kids can simply be kids…whether that means learning how to code, to play rugby or to take ballet. This cultural shift means that children have more choices than ever before, and what parent doesn’t want that for their child?
4) Truly Flexible Workplace Programs
There’s no question about it: 2016 was the year of paid parental leave. While employers will continue to compete with each other in an effort to provide the best parental leave program, Care For Business, the enterprise arm helping companies support their working families, predicts leading employers will also expand on the notion of flex time for 2017. According to a Care For Business 2015 Better Benefits Survey, 17% of people would likely leave their job for one that offered a flexible work schedule. But beyond offering flexibility in working hours, companies are recognizing that true flexibility for America’s diverse workforce means many different things. Whether it’s a reduced work week à la Amazon.com’s 30-hour work week pilot program, job-sharing opportunities, or the ability to work from home several days a week to avoid long commutes or for no reason at all, the traditional, full-time schedule in an office is no longer a “one size fits all” model for today’s workforce. Most importantly, leading organizations who are committed to true flexibility are actively encouraging the use of these workplace programs to help mitigate commonly-held fears of being professionally penalized for actually taking advantage of them.
5) Cobbled-Together Child Care
For the first time ever in 2016, the cost of childcare featured prominently on the agenda of a U.S. Presidential election, and for good reason. The high cost of childcare has been an increasing pain point for many families, resulting in parents seeking alternatives to traditional childcare arrangements, such as nanny shares. According to Care.com, the percentage of families seeking a nanny share (in which two or more families employ one nanny and share the cost of her salary) increased 23% in 2017 as compared to 2015.