“Good Parents” and “Beloved Children”: Intensive parenting and everyday practices in Hungarian child welfare service
The current paper examines how transforming ideals of parenting have changed child welfare services in Hungary during the past decade or so. More specifically, it uncovers the ways parental determinism and intensive parenting have influenced caseworkers’ everyday practices as well as their relation to parents of different social and ethnic background. Until recently, child welfare services particularly focused on poor, uneducated (often Roma) families and assessed the fulfilment of material needs of children. Based on a year-long ethnographic research, the paper shows how the new parenting culture have changed caseworkers’ assessment of parental competence, the explanations for initiating child removals and ultimately their relations to parents of different social background. I argue that these decisions are largely influenced by ideals of “good/optimal” childhood, dominant parenting norms, conceptions about who are “good” parents, and dominant ideas of deservedness. While earlier neglect was assessed mostly in material terms, currently a strong emotional parent-child relationship is promoted. However, as my research shows, these are extremely subjective and fluid notions that are often used to reinforce personal convictions and dominant values about parenting, deservedness and social belonging.
- child welfare,
- child protection,
- intensive parenting,