Methods: Data from 29,012 respondents to the Statistics Canada Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians 2020: Parenting During the Pandemic Survey were used to examine patterns of parenting concerns. The survey included nine empirically supported indicators of parenting COVID-related concerns for their child’s general health, social wellbeing, and health-related behaviors. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify patterns of parenting concerns. We then examined differences across groups based on the child’s age and among equity-denied groups.
Results: Participants (N=29,012) were mostly female (90.4%; n=26,234) and had attended university (74.7%; n=21,676). In total, 62.4% of the sample had at least one child under the age of 5, 67.6% had at least one child aged 6-14 years old, and 10.9% had a child aged 15-24 years old in the household. The average mean scale score across the 9 concern items was 2.38 (SD=0.66; Range 1-4). Immigrant parents showed higher mean concern score (M=2.49, SD=0.71) compared to non-immigrant parents (M=2.36, SD=0.65),
t=-9.22, p<0.001. Similarly, visible minority parents showed higher mean concern score (M=2.54, SD=0.71) compared to non-immigrant parents (M=2.54, SD=0.71), t=-13.37, p<0.001. Lastly, Indigenous parents also had a higher mean concern score (M=2.53, SD=0.68) compared to non-Indigenous parents (M=2.37, SD=0.66), t=-5.69, p<0.001. Overall, parents had the highest concerns related to how the pandemic would impact their child’s ability to socialize with other children (73% reported high concerns) and with their child’s screen time (64.5% with high concerns). Using LCA, we identified four groups reflecting different patterns of parenting concerns characterized by: (a) Low Concerns (27.6%), (b) High Concerns (24.1%), (c) Health-Related Behaviour concerns (15.9%), (d) Psychosocial Wellbeing concerns (32.4%). Two groups reflected the level of concerns (low, high), and two groups reflected the type of concern (health-behaviors, psychosocial wellbeing). Parents with young children were more likely to experience low concerns, whereas parents with school-aged/older children and those in an equity-denied group were more likely to report a pattern of high concerns.
Conclusions and Implications: The pandemic has highlighted existing structural inequities for families, as evident by reported parenting concerns. The current study adds to the literature by highlighting how the variations in parenting concerns during the pandemic may be associated with child developmental stage and the impact of structural inequities experienced by equity-denied parents. As we recover from the consequences of the pandemic, we must consider the differential impacts for diverse families to inform policies and programs supporting those most affected.