Representations About Parenthood As Reflection Of World Variability Representations


The research is devoted to the study of ideas about parenthood, their relationship with individual-personality characteristics. The basic attention is focused on the relationship of ideas about parenthood with the factors that underlie people's desire for stability or for newness. The analysis of scientific and public sources revealed two types of discursive ideas about parenthood: traditional and modern. Our task is to identify how these ideas are shared by ordinary consciousness. 569 respondents, the average age is 31.72; 95.8% are women, 4.2% are men. To achieve the goal of the study the respondents were questioned in social networks. Data processing and analysis - comparison, dispersion and correlation analyses. Results: the influence on the concept of parenthood of socio-demographic and psychological factors was described as well as the features of individuals implementing the modern family model. It was revealed that the vast majority of respondents share ideas about modern parenthood. There were founded the factors which are associated with the preference of a modern or traditional model - they are the environment (place of residence, parents lifestyle of the respondents), values, features of the world picture. The results suggest that people's attitudes towards family and parenthood models reflect their fundamental position regarding the acceptance of changes in the modern world.

Keywords: Parenthoodrepresentations of everyday consciousnesssocial attitudestraditional representationsvalues


One of the central topic of modern psychology is the description and analysis of changes in modern reality. The changes magnitude and their consequences for the individual and social communities are described in modern psychology by using the concept of “transitive society” (Martsinkovskaya, 2018).

Possible negative consequences of modern reality features are noted in the scientific and public literature. They include the consequences for the psychological well-being of a person. They appear in an increase in feelings of anxiety, loneliness, insecurity in the future, etc. On the other hand, it is emphasized that the modern world is a world of person’s expanding capabilities, the emergence of new ways of interaction with reality, new ways of communication, all that the modern digital society provides. In a situation of high variability of an identity choice for a person, the possibility of constructing one’s microsocial space opens up (Ayanyan et al., 2016).

The studies show that the impact of changing reality on a person is global in nature, which means that people from different cultures, social, age groups, etc., are inevitably exposed to this influence. At the same time, the empirical data indicate significant individual variations associated both with individual's perception of occurring changes and with his/her ways of reaction on them. Changes in reality become a challenge to a person’s ability to accept changes and change him/herself.

The one vector of these changes is a transformation of social ideas and attitudes, changing the world picture as a set of reality images surrounding a person. These transformations also affect value ideas, both in the culture of community and in the individual system of human values. Shaking the traditional value systems that have developed in the community, the rapid changes in modern reality put a person before the need to develop his/her own subjectively defined system of values, to form a world picture, which becomes a regulator of his/her behavior.

Therefore, the study of a person’s attitude to changes of reality has a particular importance, which largely determines his/her readiness and ability to change.

The problems of what a person means by changes, especially how s/he perceives them, which areas of his/her life they affect the most, how values are transformed, how a person copes with the challenges of diversity, complexity and uncertainty, are key in modern psychological science.

Problem Statement

In our study of ideas concerning changing world and a changing personality in a world picture of ordinary consciousness, it founded that the properties of a changing world being associated with the transitivity of modern reality (such as a life variety, an increase in the amount of information, mobility, etc.), are reflected in everyday consciousness. However, to a much lesser extent those characteristics of modern reality directly affecting everyday life and interpersonal relationships of people are fixed in the minds of people. In fact, the conscious changes in the world are perceived rather as something external, not always directly related to the life of the person him/herself (Grishina & Kozlova, 2019).

However, the human relations world, both in its non-institutionalised forms and in the form of family social institutions and parenthood, is substantially transforming. In particular, the analysis of data on such social phenomena as family and parenthood shows that ideas about it are changing, affecting many aspects of people's life, values, and communication (Martsinkovskaya & Chumicheva, 2015).

So, sociologists record a change in ideas about parenthood and in its representation in Russian public discourse and everyday consciousness. Modern parenthood is not associated with traditional marriage, it is separated from marriage, it is not a natural extension of marriage, it is more reflective (conscious or responsible parenting) and becomes the result of individual choice (Chernova & Shpakovskaya, 2010).

The analysis of scientific and public discourse, as well as Internet materials (network media), shows that in discursive representations there are two models of parenthood - traditional and modern. Moreover, the traditional model of parenthood is normative and socially approved. It meets the state policy of supporting the traditional family and traditional family values, while the modern model of parenting is endowed with greater individual choice freedom, and, consequently, implies a greater responsibility of the individual.

The presence of these two family relations models in everyday consciousness is a reflection of a more fundamental dilemma - acceptance or not acceptance of changes in the modern world, of its complexity and uncertainty, the desire to maintain sustainability and stability in a life context and in own ideas about surrounding reality or, on the contrary, in a person’s readiness to accept the variability of the world.

Thus, a study of the factors determining people's tendency to accept/to approve a traditional or a modern parenthood model may allow us to put forward more general assumptions about the factors underlying people's desire to prefer stability or a readiness to accept changes and novelty.

In accordance with this theoretical background, we determine the methodological tools of the study.

Research Questions

The research questions are:

  • How much are presented traditional ideas and modern attitudes about parenthood in the ordinary consciousness?

  • What factors are influence the formation of traditional ideas and modern attitudes?

  • What are the features of people who share modern ideas about parenthood?

  • What are the features of individuals who are implementing the modern model of the family (a family not related to traditional marriage)?

Purpose of the Study

The study purpose is to find out what ideas about parenthood are presented in everyday consciousness, how much changes in the ideas of modern society about parenthood are accepted by people, and what factors determine people's attitude to a traditional or modern parenthood model.

The subject of analysis is the everyday consciousness representation of parenthood in their connection with individual psychological characteristics of personality.

Research Methods

The study sample

569 respondents living in Russia (n = 473) and abroad (n = 96). The average age is 31.72; 95.8% of women, 4.2% of men; 43.35% - residents of megacities - cities of federal significance (Moscow and St. Petersburg, the population, respectively, more than 12 and more than 5 million people), 12.82% are residents of cities with a population of more than 1 million people, 15, 46% are residents of large cities with a population of 250 thousand to 1 million people, 12.47% are residents of small cities with a population of up to 250 thousand people, 16.87% are residents of foreign countries. The research period is December 2019.


In order to describe the characteristics of the traditional and modern parenthood model at the preliminary stage of the study we used the content analysis of scientific and everyday discourse, as well as the analysis of social networks content.

The main study was conducted by survey in the online magazine for parents “No, this is normal.” The questionnaire was posted in the magazine’s group on the social network Facebook, as well as in Telegram messenger group.

The tools using to conduct the survey:

  • Questionnaire of ideas about parenthood being constructed on the basis of characteristics obtained at the preliminary stage of the study.

  • The Schwartz Value Survey (adapted by T.P. Butenko, D.S. Sedov, A.S. Lipatov for the Russian context).

  • A questionnaire of traditional stereotypes (designed by us to study a person’s tendency to build a traditional picture of the world and being verifyed in our previous studies).

  • The socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents were specified in survey (gender, place of residence, education, marital status, presence of children, etc.).


Characterististics of traditional and modern parenthood model

The description the characteristics of two parenthood models — traditional and modern - is based on the analysis of the content of scientific and everyday discourse and the social networks content (so-called “parent groups” and network media, the target audience of which are parents, in Facebook social network) (Table 01 ).

Table 1 -
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We developed, based on these assumptions, a questionnaire on ideas about parenthood, the purpose of which is to identify respondents' preferences regarding traditional and modern models of parenthood.

Parenthood: Socio-Demographic Factors

The survey results suggest that the majority of respondents share ideas about modern parenthood (86.7%). The concept of traditional parenthood is more characteristic of residents of small towns (18.3%). (Table 02 ).

Table 2 -
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Men to a greater extent share ideas about traditional parenthood (M = 16.63), women, on the contrary, about modern (M = 21.80).

Founded the correlations of ideas about traditional parenthood (p <0.05) with age (*, 168), as well as with the number of children among respondents (, 192 *).

We can note the relationship between the respondents' family status and their ideas about parenthood: those who are in an unregistered marriage (n = 54) and divorced (n = 6) are more likely to share the notion of modern parenthood, married (n = 471) - about the traditional.

Psychological factors associated with ideas about parenthood

Two hypotheses were tested: (1) orientation to the traditional family model is associated with orientation to traditional values, (2) orientation to the traditional family model is associated with the traditional picture of the individual’s world.

  • The hypothesis about the relationship of ideas about parenthood with the value orientations of the individual was confirmed (Table 03 ).

Table 3 -
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The strongest connections of orientation to the traditional family model are obtained with orientation to the value of traditions. Thus, the notion of parenthood is associated with the individual's value system.

(2) The traditional ideas of the world were measured by using a questionnaire of stereotypes, half of them reflects the desire for sustainability, permanence, a search for stability in the main areas of life (work, family and friendships); the second half refers to stereotypes in the field of interpersonal relations and general ideas about life.

Correlation analysis revealed that the concept of traditional parenthood is associated with both groups of ideas (first group ,448 **, second group ,620 **, p <0.05).

 Representations of modern parenthood, on the contrary, negatively correlate with both the first (-, 153 **) and the second (-, 303 **) groups of stereotyped judgments.

Features of respondents sharing modern parenting attitudes

Respondents were divided into two groups according to their commitment to modern (group 1, n = 491) or traditional (group 2, n = 62) parenthood models (Table 04 ).

Adherents of the modern parenthood model are more likely to implement the modern model of the family (they are in an unregistered marriage) than adherents of traditional parenthood (12% and 5% of respondents, respectively). In addition, families adhering to the modern model are less likely to have many children (two or more children have 24% of “modern” parents, 34% of “traditional” parents).

Revealed the relationship of the family characteristics in which the respondent was brought up with his/her ideas about parenthood. Most adherents of the traditional model parenthood (almost 70%) were brought up in traditional families in their classical sense (father, mother, one or more children). In the first group, supporters of the modern family model, the type of family in which a respondent was brought up was more variable, which could influence the subsequent choice of the model of his/her own family.

Representatives of the second group to a greater extent share traditional stereotypes. Also, this group has higher average of values associated with the motivation for self-defense and anxiety avoidance (Power, Security, Conformism, Traditions). The differences in the average values of the Traditions value indicators, which confirm our hypothesis about the relationship of traditional ideas about parenthood with the traditional consciousness, are particularly significant.

Table 4 -
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Features of respondents implementing a modern family model.

In this case, we mean by a modern family a model of partnership outside a registered marriage, since traditional official marriage remains the dominant family model in Russian society.

Most of those who are in unregistered marriages (75.5%) live in megacities, million-plus cities and large cities (from 250 thousand to 1 million inhabitants).

57% of respondents implementing the modern family model grew up in a nuclear full family, 37% - in an extended full family. Parents of 92% of respondents at the time of their birth were in a registered marriage. Thus, we cannot talk about the connection of the model of parental family with the model of respondent's family.

92% of those living in an unregistered marriage share ideas about modern parenthood, 6% - about traditional, 2% - equally about modern and traditional.

Table 5 -
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The table above shows that it is the respondents who implement the modern family model to a greater extent adhere the concept of modern parenting (Table 05 ).

Statistically significant differences were found between groups of respondents by the factor “number of children” (p = 0,000). The participants of study who implement the modern family model, on average, have fewer children (0.87) than those who adhere to the traditional model (1.25).

We analyzed the average values ​​of the scales in the Schwartz Value Survey. Comparison of the respondents data who are in registered (group 1) and in unregistered (group 2) marriage, reveals the following trends. The respondents of the second group have more expressed values ​​of Openness to Change (Stimulation, Hedonism) and Self-determination Values ​​(Universalism, Benevolence). The respondents of the first group have more pronounced Conservation Values ​​(Conformism, Tradition). The Openness to Change values ​​emphasize a readiness for new or transforming ideas, actions, or experiences; they contrast with Conservation Values ​​that focus on avoiding change, self-restraint, and order (Schwartz) (Table 06 ).

Table 6 -
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The respondents group that implements the model of a modern family has differences both in the level of ideas about parenthood and in the level of value preferences. It can be assumed that ideas about the modern family and modern parenthood influence decisions on the number of children in the family: in modern families there are on average fewer children than in traditional ones. It is noteworthy that most of their representatives of modern families are residents of megapolises or large cities. This seems logical, since in a big city the influence degree of socially approved attitudes concerning the traditional model of family and parenthood is significantly lower.


An analysis of the parenthood concept suggests that changes in the concept of modern society about the family are accepted by people. The vast majority of respondents demonstrate a willingness to move away from traditional ideas about the family and to be opened to ideas of modern parenting (86%).

At the same time, the obtained results allow us to talk about individual variations in adherence to traditional or modern ideas and to identify factors that influence the adherence to the traditional family model or the willingness to accept its more modern forms:

- Environment (place of residence) . The largest number of traditional model supporters of parenthood lives in small towns. In such cities, the traditional way of life is preserved to a greater extent and the following to socially approved behaviour patterns is more important than in megacities, which has an obvious effect on the social perceptions of residents.

- The lifestyle of the parent family. Adherents of traditional parenthood grew up in families close to the traditional model: in full families, where parents are in a registered marriage, where most often two or more children. In turn, the variability of the family model in which the respondent grew up can influence the more free choice of the respondent's own family model, including the one corresponding to the ideas of modern parenting.

- Personality values. For supporters of the traditional family model are characterised by focus on the values of traditions, conformism, power, and security. It means that the preference of the traditional family is based on the individual's value orientations system.

- The world picture. Adherence to stereotypes reflecting the preference of the stable, sustainable nature of the life context, as well as the traditional norms of human relations, has a strong influence on the person’s attitudes towards the traditional / modern type of family.

Respondents living in an unregistered marriage (which in modern conditions of Russian society means a moving from the traditional model of official marriage) comparing with those living in a registered marriage show that the first one really share a greater degree of acceptability of modern marriage. Thus, the readiness for new models of life is based on the corresponding attitudes of a person and at the same time supports and strengthens them.

The main theme of our research is related to human readiness to accept changes in the modern world and its new opportunities. The results demonstrates that people's attitudes towards traditional and modern models of family and parenthood reflect their fundamental positions regarding the adoption of changes in the modern world.

The research data reflect the trends obtained of this sample, however, they give reason to talk about the coexistence in everyday consciousness of ideas about the traditional family and its modern variations and their connection with both the peculiarities of the living context and individual psychological factors.


The study was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in the framework of the research project No. 18-013-00703.


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