Indicator List for Parenting

Father and child

Child Trends investigates family relationships that influence a child’s development from birth through the transition to adulthood. We look at all family and household structures from children living with two parents, single parents, extended family members, and with foster and adoptive parents. We also study the role of fathers in children’s development and ways to improve father engagement among diverse groups of fathers. We offer expertise in quantitative and qualitative research, program evaluation, policy design, and technical assistance.

Indicator List for Parenting


Attitudes Toward Spanking

In 2014, according to a nationally representative survey, 76 percent of men, and 65 percent of women, 18 to 65 years old, agreed that a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.” This proportion has declined modestly since 1986 among women, while approval among males, after declining into the early 1990s, has remained steady.


Child Care

Among children ages birth to four whose mothers were employed, 24 percent were primarily cared for by a parent during the hours their mother was working in 2011.


Child Maltreatment

The rate of substantiated child maltreatment, as of 2013, has shown modest declines in the past six years, and is at a level lower than at any time since 1990. The rates of physical and sexual abuse have declined the most, and rates of neglect have declined the least.

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Family Meals

Children in poorer families, and those whose parents had less education, are more likely to have meals together with their families than are children with wealthier or more educated parents.


Immigrant Children

The population of first- and second-generation immigrant children in the United States grew by 51 percent between 1995 and 2014, to 18.7 million, or one-quarter of all U.S. children.


Late or No Prenatal Care

Although there was substantial improvement on this measure in the 1990s for all races, black, Hispanic, and Native American mothers are still more than twice as likely as white mothers to receive either late or no prenatal care.


Mothers Who Smoke While Pregnant

The proportion of women who report smoking during pregnancy has dropped substantially since the 1990s: from almost 20 percent in 1989 to nine percent in 2013. However, wide disparities exist by race/ethnicity, and by maternal education.

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