High Hopes? Educational, Socioeconomic, and Ethnic Differences in Parents’ Aspirations for their Unborn Children
Parents’ aspirations shape children’s development. In this study, over 6700 pregnant women and over 4300 of their partners from the Growing Up in New Zealand cohort responded to a question about their hopes, dreams, and expectations for their unborn children. Responses were coded according to a Maslowian hierarchy of needs. Mothers and their partners predominantly mentioned self-actualization and physiological aspirations for their unborn children, but their responses varied as a function of parental ethnicity and level of educational achievement and less so as a function of socioeconomic status. Mothers of European ethnicity, and parents with higher levels of educational achievement, mentioned more aspirations for their children—especially for self-actualization and belonging—than mothers of non-European ethnicity and parents with lower levels of educational achievement. These findings are discussed with respect to Maslowian theory and cultural developmental theories, and in terms of understanding the aspirations of parents from diverse backgrounds.
KeywordsFamily dynamics/processes Family resources Pregnancy/birth Transition to parenthood Cultural practices
We acknowledge Chelsea Roberts for completing the coding. We are grateful to all the families for their continued participation in Growing Up in New Zealand.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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