Parenting the ‘Millennium Child’: choice, responsibility and playing it safe in uncertain times

Barr, Jenny and de Souza, Marian and Harrison, Cathie and Hyde, Brendan and Van Vliet, Helen and Saltmarsh, Sue (2012) Parenting the ‘Millennium Child’: choice, responsibility and playing it safe in uncertain times. Global Studies of Childhood, 2 (4). pp. 302-318. ISSN 2043-6106


This article considers a range of issues confronting parents of children growing up in the new millennium. The authors frame their discussion with concerns raised by scholars in a diverse range of fields that notions of risk, uncertainty and anxiety play a critical role in what parents today understand as comprising their parental responsibilities. A review of literature in the areas of education, media and technology, health and well-being, and family and work leads the authors to argue that parenting in the new millennium is broadly constituted within normalising discourses of consumer choice, individual responsibility and risk management strategies that combine innovation, entrepreneurialism and embracing challenges, on the one hand, with ‘playing it safe’ and protecting perceived childhood vulnerabilities, on the other. Here, the authors read the persistence in the media and popular culture of nostalgic appeals to childhood innocence as being under intensified threat as a technique of governmentality, through which a population governs itself. However, the authors also consider how the research literature highlights complexities and ambiguities associated with rapid technological and social changes, and the impact of these on contemporary parenting practices. The authors conclude that the seeming discursive dichotomies of parenting that embraces and confronts change, while simultaneously preventing and ameliorating risks both real and imagined, make parenting the ‘millennium child’ a complicated and contradictory task.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2017 23:39
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 05:14
Uncontrolled Keywords: parenting; new millennium
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160810 Urban Sociology and Community Studies
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200203 Consumption and Everyday Life
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441016 Urban sociology and community studies
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470203 Consumption and everyday life
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
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