Italian Parents and their main Challenges in 2020

Although suspended Government’s decree and ordinances, between uncertainties, anxieties, mood swings and worries, Italian parents with children between 0 and 14 do not question the great values ​​and fixed points of family life, and they reveal a hopeful picture of a country where 46% of parents say they look to the future with optimism.

This is what emerges from the survey “The challenge of Italian parents” conducted by BVA Doxa for Prénatal Retail Group. The research involved a sample of 619 parents aged between 25 and 55 and was split in two surveys – one in February and the other in September 2020 – which focused on the moods and attitudes of Italian parents before the Covid-19 pandemic and in the “new normal” phase, but also during the reopening of schools on the 17th and 28th of September.

RESPECT IS THE KEY FOR A BETTER FUTURE – “Educating young people to respect others” (67%, + 7% compared to February 2020), “offering more job opportunities to young people” (54%, + 9%) and “having complete, correct and impartial information, but also simple to understand ”(47%, + 8%) are the three most important aspects for Italian parents in order to build a better future society. Furthermore, Italian parents also underline the importance of “educating young people to respect the environment” (59%, + 6%), “guaranteeing equal opportunities for men and women, in different areas” (53%, +6 %) and “promoting citizens’ civic sense and civic education” (59%, + 6%).

Overall, respect for others returns as the most important lesson among the ones that need to be passed on to children (63%, + 7%), followed by learning about “engaging in what you do” (52%, + 6%).

Respect is also a priority in terms of the values ​​to be transmitted to children according to 43% of Italian parents, almost as much as honesty (41%). Compliance with the rules, on the other hand, is in third place on the scale of the most important values ​​to be passed on to children, but it decreases by 5%, going from 40% to 35%.

ITALIAN PARENTS: MORE ANXIOUS, LESS JOYFUL AND LOOKING FOR FREE TIME AND ECONOMICAL RESOURCES: Italian parents with children aged 0 to 14 describe themselves as protective (47%), patient (37%) and reassuring (36%). However, if we compare the data of the first and second waves, it turns out that the share of those who define themselves as joyful decreases (from 30% to 24%) and, at the same time, the share of anxious parents increases, which goes from 13% to 18%, with a more significant increase among mothers.

As for the most recurring needs, the request for greater economic resources (44%, + 5%) follows “having more free time” which, although registering a decrease of 11%, remains the first necessity for 50% of respondents. With the “new normal”, the demand for services that support families also increases (34% vs 29% recorded in February 2020) and the possibility of finding a job, especially for mothers (32%, + 11%).

As for the economic implications of the pandemic on family consumption in the next six months, 52% of Italian parents expect less (39%) or much less (13%) financial resources than the present.


For 41% of respondents, the lockdown due to health emergency experienced before summer had an impact on roles and relationships with partners. Among them, 48% define this change in negative terms, as it has led to more tension, nervousness, quarrels, stress and worries.

In this delicate context, school more than any other aspect, is the reason why many families’ relationships are struggling: 90% of parents indicate school as the first reason, with a medium to high grade (from 6 to 10), followed by sports activities (85%), work (81%) and family entertainment activities (81%).

However, interactions with grandparents, seen as a true reference point and favorite playmates for 50% of families in the pre-Covid era, will continue for 33% of families, even if in safe conditions; 15% say the meeting occasions will be reduced to the bare minimum.

FAMILIES’ IDENTIKIT AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE FUTURE – The research revealed four types of groups of parents which, overall, divide Italy into two macro-poles: a positive and optimistic pole towards the future, which represents 46% of families and is embodied by the “Experimenters” (18%) and the “Balanced (28%); and a negative pole, of pessimists and not very satisfied people, involving the remaining 54%, including the “Fearful” (33%) and the “Discouraged” (21%). In these four categories, built on the basis of attitudes, no changes were recorded between the two survey phases.

Below, the details of the characterizing features of the four groups:

EXPERIMENTERS (18%) – They live mainly in the North West, they’re between 36 and 45 years old and have slightly more daughters. They are characterized by a more marked trend towards the new and the highest level of education. Open and aware of the existence of new and different family models, they recognize the difficulties of maintaining authority with their child, are very involved in the education of children / young people and more than average know how to take advantage of the new opportunities for dialogue with them. They are real social animals, particularly sensitive to the judgment of others, attentive to the aspects of social inclusion and integration of minorities. They are optimistic, determined to pursue goals and satisfied with their current life.

BALANCED (28%) – They live in the Center-South and in the Islands, they range from 25 to 35 years old and have mainly children between 6 and 8 years old. They are parents with moderate behavior and attitudes, more than others they want to transfer to their children the importance of commitment and a sense of responsibility but also the value of being themselves and the importance of freedom of thought. They define themselves as protective parents and are the most attentive to the environment and sustainability. For them, games are educational, learning and creative values.

FEARFUL (33%) – Just like the Experimenters, they mainly live in the North West. However, they are older, over 46, and have children between 6 and 8 years old. They are not very inclined to long-term projects, closed to the new but without objective reasons. As parents they feel more sensitive than others and they also have difficulties maintaining authority with their children and the stability of the couple. They are those who define themselves as the most protective, least modern, but at the same time they try to educate their children in autonomy. They love to dedicate time to the family and among the teachings they consider most important they declare “to enjoy the loved ones and family” and “have respect for others”.

DISCOURAGED (21%) – They reside mainly in the Center and North East, they’re between 25 and 35 years old and with mainly male children aged 9-11. They are the group with the highest share of single parents. More than others, they require for more support on concrete aspects of their everyday life that make the relationship with their children more difficult; with their children they are the most dissatisfied compared to other groups. They struggle to plan in the medium to long term and have less time than others to dedicate to their family. The difficulties of everyday life lead them to prefer teachings aimed at “doing”: learning skills to put effective solutions into practice. Respect and honesty are the key values ​​they want to convey.

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