Parenting the 'millennium child': Choice, responsibility and playing it safe in uncertain times

Jenny BARR, Marian DE SOUZA, Cathie HARRISON, Brendan HYDE, Helen VAN VLIET, Sue Okerson SALTMARSH

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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. Copyright © 2012 Symposium Journals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-318
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number4
Early online dateJan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


Barr, J., De Souza, M., Harrison, C., Hyde, B., Van Vliet, H., & Saltmarsh, S. (2012). Parenting the 'millennium child': Choice, responsibility and playing it safe in uncertain times. Global Studies of Childhood, 2(4), 302-318. doi: 10.2304/gsch.2012.2.4.302


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