1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German parents under self-imposed pressure, says study

Gabriel BorrudJanuary 12, 2015

A survey published this Monday says German parents feel they are falling short when it comes to bringing up children. This comes despite state policies to alleviate stress - and contrary opinions from their children.

Image: C. Stache/AFP/Getty Images

On the surface, one could argue that the efforts put forth by the German government to make the lives of young parents easier are extremely commendable.

One could go further by saying that the Federal Republic, at least in theory, is a virtually ideal place for young families. Germany is a country of peace and prosperity, where every family receives federal benefits that allow parents to share 12 months of "Elternzeit" (family time) following the birth of their child. And the childcare system, subsidized by both the federal and state governments, enables parents to pursue careers while raising their young ones.

For these reasons, the results of a #link:http://c1.eltern.de/landingpage/pdf/studie2015.pdf:survey published on Monday# can be nothing but baffling to German politicians. For, according to the study by the forsa polling company published in the parenting magazine Eltern, the majority of German parents say their government's current policies "don't alleviate the overall stress that results from everyday life."

Proclivity for perfectionism

The questions posed in the study focused primarily on the "pressure" felt by German parents. According to the results, this pressure doesn't always come from within the family or from the stress of balancing family and work, but rather from within the mind: in the expectations parents impose on themselves.

Just over 1,000 young German moms and dads were surveyed. Almost 70 percent said their daily lives were characterized by "pressure, stress and a sense of urgency." However, only 20 percent felt that stress came from work-related issues, with over 60 percent claiming it came from an inability to meet the self-imposed expectations for being a "good parent."

"It would do German parents a whole lot of good if they were able to accept 'good enough' more often instead of having to do everything perfectly all of the time," said Eltern editor-in-chief Marie-Luise Lewicki, adding, however, that a potential reason for the perceived pressure could come from society.

According to the children themselves, at least most of those surveyed, their parents aren't doing that bad a jobImage: picture-alliance/dpa


Parallel to the Eltern survey, another study was conducted that focused on the way children see the situation. And if this survey suggests nothing else, it indicates that the "pressure" and perceived inadequacies uncloaked in the first survey are mostly unfounded.

Of the 700 children asked, around 92 percent said they "couldn't imagine having any other parents than my own," that they feel "safe and sound" at home, and, finally, that "my parents love me just the way I am."