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Relay or Mediator? From the Difficult Resistance of Parenting Support to School Instrumentalization in a Swiss Canton

Xavier Conus

Research Framework: With a focus on the parental role, parenting support measures have become a lever for public policies aimed at preventing and combating inequality. Seen as a resource for explaining the school’s expectations to parents, these measures place a great deal of emphasis on school-related issues.

Objectives: The aim of this article is to understand how the managers of parenting support organizations in a Swiss canton comprehend their relationship with schools and their role in relation to school issues, and how this translated into their work with parents.

Methodology: As part of a comprehensive qualitative research, data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with the managers of 8 parenting support organizations in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, with different institutional affiliations. A thematic categorical analysis was conducted, using a mixed-method approach.

Results: In addition to confirming the importance of school issues in their efforts to support parenthood, the managers we interviewed adopt 2 different approaches. They see their organization either as a mediator between the school and parents, or as a relay for the school’s expectations of parents. Difficulties in collaborating with the school hinder each of these positions to varying degrees.

Conclusions: Not only do school-related issues play an essential role in parenting support initiatives, but they also tend to maintain a prescriptive approach to parenting support, with the school shifting responsibility to parents.

Contribution: This article highlights the insufficiently explored role of school issues in the tension inherent to parenthood support, between the desire to support parents and the risk of normative and standardizing their practices.