The Future of Parenting – The Changing Nature of Parenthood

Last week we launched our brand new research in partnership with Trinity Mirror Solutions, The Future of Parenting to a packed Soho Hotel.  Designed to get under the skin of modern parenting, the research aims to help brands and content companies to understand how well brands are connecting with parents and how parents live their lives today.  The research has been fascinating and complicated and we’ve provided a white paper here but we’re also going to serialise our findings in the next few OMD insight blogs, covering:

  • The Changing Nature of Parenthood
  • Brands, Advertising and Parents
  • The Pressure of Modern Parenthood
  • Sharing the Load

The Changing Nature of Parenthood

Families are a core audience for a huge number of brands.  From food to health to cars to technology, families often form the backbone of the audiences we seek to connect with.  And it’s no surprise when we look at how many families and parents there are in the UK – the ONS estimates that there are 19 million families and 8 million families with children in the UK.

When we think about families, we still often go to the stereotype of a heterosexual married couple with 2 children, with mum staying at home and doing the shopping and dad being the breadwinner and going out to work.  But, when we look at the data, families are in fact changing, with over 3 million families in the UK no longer fitting into this neat little box.  The world of parenting and families has and still is, changing drastically.  We now live in a much more fluid and complex world, where families take lots of different shapes and sizes.  For example, we have seen a rise of 56% in households that have more than one family in them, from 215k in 2007 to 306k in 2017 (ONS, 2017).  There are now 1.7 million lone parent families in the UK – a figure which has risen by 15% more lone parent families now than there were a decade ago.  Same-sex couples with children are also on the rise, with 14k same-sex couples with children now in the UK.

And it’s not just the structure of the modern family that’s changing.  We’re also seeing changing dynamics within families, with gender roles, childcare arrangements and how we get advice and learn about parenting all changing, meaning that traditional roles no longer apply.  For example, our research found that over a third of men changed their working arrangements after having children, nearly three-quarters of women now work, the age that we’re having children is rising and technology is helping us to become better parents.

If we work to the stereotypes that we automatically go to, if we don’t put in the effort to understand these changes, how can we possibly expect our brands and communications to connect with families?  And that’s why we set out to research parenting today.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll tell you about how parents feel about brands, the pressures they feel and how we share the load within families.  However, if you can’t wait until then, please do download our brilliant white paper here.


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