Habits and Attitudes of Italian Parents

A recent Nickelodeon Kids & Family GPS analysis takes a look at how parents in Italy differ from their global peers.

How do the habits and attitudes of Italian parents stand out from parents around the world? A recent global study by Nickelodeon Kids & Family GPS focused on how family life is re-calibrating as Millennials have children of their own–sometimes with different habits and attitudes than their Gen X predecessors.

Here are key findings from this project:

In recent years, families have grown closer. Family members feel like they are part of a special circle. This is particularly true in Italy: almost all Italian parents declared that they feel very close to their children(98%, 2 percentage points above the global average).

A positive approach to parenting seems to be prevalent (or so parents claim). However, even more than parents globally they find that the results of their good intentions are not always satisfactory.

In general, Italian parents describe themselves as patient (60%), permissive (almost half, well above the global average) and – at least ideally – consistent (7 out of 10).  They feel they are both an authority figure (30%) and a friend to their kids (32%, below the global average).

While 8 in 10 Italian parents say they encourage their children’s independence, they are below the global average of 94% in this regard. Only a third of Italian parents wish they had done more to make their son/daughter less dependent on them—less than parents globally (42%).

Italian parents are control freaks and hands-off. Despite an ideal of open-mindedness towards their children’s independence, Italian parents feel the need to maintain a direct control on some aspects of their children’s life.

While having a lot of rules, Italian parents are less strict in enforcing them (64%, well below the global average). However, if children do not respect their rules, they demand explanations. Italian parents seem less willing to negotiate with their children in this area, preferring to yell as punishment (almost 60% vs 25% global average).

Italian parents, like other parents around the world, are most afraid of the risks relating to their children’s digital lives (over 60%). At the same time, they worry less about TV (just under a third 1/3 of Italian parents monitor kids’ choices) and about their kids’ friends (only 10%). In contrast to global parents, those in Italy seem less willing to snoop on their children. Only a third of parents said they look through their children’s belongings without permission (vs 40% globally). And in the cases where they did snoop, they believed they were doing it to safeguard and protect their children.

They are concerned about the well-being of their household. In particular, almost 50% of Italian parents are extremely worried about their children’s safety and health. But Italian parents worry even more about losing their jobs (45% are very worried about this, more than the global average). This fear is strictly related to increasing economic and social uncertainty in Italy, which has a direct impact on families’ daily lives.

Considering this point, Italian parents’ approach to financial questions and the value of money is surprising. Though the vast majority claim to have been strongly influenced by the economic crisis (over 73% are coping with a worse than a year ago), 38% of Italian parents try to satisfy their child’s every material desire (over the global average of 22%). Parents’ ambiguity on this point influences their children: only 24% of Italian parents believe that their child understands the value of money (half of the global percentage) and only 1/3 say that their child is saving money for the future.

This lack of responsibility seems to have an impact on domestic activities as well. Italian parents claim that their children are not so helpful in domestic and daily activities (less than a half of Italian parents agreed with this, 20 percentage points below the global average). Moreover, Italian parents have fewer expectations than global Moms and Dads, indicating a peculiar attitude that continues to distinguish them: they safeguard their kids more, while also not encouraging them to take on more responsibility at home.