Recent social and economic changes are changing the meaning of being a parent. Strategists need to be aware of the impact – here’s how.

Parenting has never been easy, but historically the rules of being a good parent have been simple - less of the bad stuff, more of the good stuff and lots of love and support.

Well, not any more. Recent shifts in the economy and social attitudes mean that the number of parenting pitfalls we now have to navigate has increased dramatically. Social media, mental health, sugar and obesity, online bullying, exams and grades - are just a few of the many new challenges which appear in the news daily, which parents need to think about.

Raising your child is becoming less straightforward and social pressures mean that perhaps parents aren’t as open as they could be about the truths of their parenting style. Would you be honest about giving your child chocolate in a society tackling obesity? Would you admit you don’t know how to control or monitor your child’s social media use? Modern parenting is tough, and parents are being offered relatively little help and support to guide them through this new landscape. Here lies an opportunity for brands.

New research by Spark Foundry, set out to understand modern parents by speaking to parenting experts and parents themselves. Research of 1,000 parents with children between the ages of eight and 14, found that 85% of parents feel guilty they are not good enough. Even more striking, a fifth of those parents felt guilty all the time. The parents and parenting experts we spoke to agreed, recognising that we’ve lost some of the skills and confidence our parents had.

Through this study, three clear themes emerged which we believe brands need to understand and address, to ensure their products and services can support this generation of families.


Parents are challenging traditional sources of trust. In an environment of change and conflicting advice, parents are increasingly relying on gut instinct, and guidance from their peers – and even their children – to make decisions. But, in today’s world, social media is also providing a point of guidance. Almost a fifth (19%) are turning to social media and online forums to discuss their concerns. For brands, they can take to these platforms to also provide guidance and advice in an authentic way that feels similar to how a friend would.

Lack of control

The research found 40% of parents worry if they are making the right decisions for their children’s future career, while keeping their children safe in public came second at 39%. Amongst the fears of modern parents, social media also ranks highly with 35% admitting they have concerns about whether they are cautious enough with how their children use it. Parents acknowledge that much of what goes on is hidden from their view and out of their control – and it sparks fear. Here, brands can consider their role in busy family life. There’s an opportunity to be the brand that builds trust, creates conversations and moments - that help kids and parents tackle the ‘unseen’.

Idealised parenting

Younger parents have their own unique generational behaviours and pressures which they need to recognise and manage. Parenting is now very different from that of previous generations, thanks to factors such as technology and more food choice, therefore parents need reassuring they are doing a good job. Spark Foundry’s research found a third of parents who post about their children and family life on social media, do not post honestly. There’s a clear feeling that they need to keep up with appearances. For brands and marketers, there’s an opportunity to remind parents that they are doing okay. By avoiding idealised versions of the ‘perfect parent’ in their advertising and brands, by instead showcasing authentic parenting life, brands can build a relationship with parents. P&G is a great example of this, creating adverts that make parenting seem real and relatable.

As parenting is becoming even more of a challenge, brands should take it upon themselves to understand the pressures, difficulties and concerns of this generation of mums and dads. It’s a chance to take on a role in reassuring and reminding them, that there’s no right or wrong. Whether it’s through guidance, information, providing a place of solace or building parenting initiatives - brands can act as a reliable and safe resource, at a time when parents need it most.