“Unwanted” Children? Values of Parenting, Rights of Fathers and Mothers in Sociocultural Attitudes of the Russians

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: St. Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Affiliation: St. Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionНомер 8

The article focuses on the analysis of parental mindsets and stereotypes about the rights of fathers and mothers in cases involving reproductive choice, as well as sharing responsibility for abandoning a newborn between mother, father and close relatives. The authors discuss opinions related to the rights of fathers in cases of abortion, attitudes towards supporting children from the families of alcohol/drug addicts, mothers with an increased risk of abandoning newborns, as well as leaving them in baby boxes. We have interviewed 2,000 respondents in 8 federal districts of the Russian Federation, conducted 15 focus groups (N=142) with managers, specialists, and parents, 15 in-depth interviews with young mothers. The authors have concluded that 90% of the research participants would negatively assess abandonment of a child by a mother, while more than half of the respondents would take an extremely condemning standpoint, and more than a third express compassion and participation for her. Young people, those who have graduated from primary and secondary vocational schools, as well as religious people are more likely to take the accusing standpoint. The elderly people, those with higher and incomplete higher education, as well as non-believers would rather take the compassionate standpoint towards abandoning mothers. The opposing opinions can be observed in relation to the dominant right of the mother to her reproductive choice in case of abortion, the recognition of the reproductive rights of fathers in case of pregnancy termination, the permissibility of abortion in case of inability to raise a child. Almost two-thirds of the respondents take a more consistent standpoint recognizing the need to help children and parents from troubled families and the priority of raising children even by a marginal mother, but in a natural family environment as compared to their removal and placement in a public facility or a new family. The data show a high level of expressiveness of attitudes towards equal parental rights and equal responsibility of mothers and fathers for reproductive decisions and care for children.

Keywordsparenting values, sociocultural attitudes, motherhood, responsible fatherhood, cruelty to children, social orphancy, newborn infant abandonment, baby box, children's rights, fathers' rights
AcknowledgmentThe article was supported by RSF grant, project No. 23-18-00770 https://rscf.ru/project/23-18-00770/.
Publication date03.10.2023
Number of characters25791
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