Parenthood may be a helpful frame to motivate people to take climate action, but it's understudied as a mechanism that may influence climate change-relevant behavior. This resource reviews the existing literature on the role of parenthood as a motivator of environmental engagement (the “green parenthood effect”), focusing particularly on climate change. The literature on the role of parenthood in driving environmental engagement is mixed, due in part to the role of “baseline” individual and group characteristics that lead to different impacts of parenthood on environmental engagement (i.e., people who choose to have kids are already a bit different from those who do not have kids). In addition, there are countervailing impacts of intense time and budget constraints imposed by parenthood. Some studies suggest that parenthood increases pro-environmental engagements, while others find no effects or negative effects. We theorize that potential mediators and moderators need to be taken into account to get a clearer picture of how parenthood influences pro-environmental engagement. We highlight underlying proposed mechanisms that might be activated during the transition to parenthood (i.e., legacy motives, perceived responsibility). For people who are already concerned about climate change, evidence suggests that parenthood could be a strong frame to motivate engagement with climate change, but asking parents, especially those with young children, to take on pro-environmental behaviors that do not have a direct health impact on their own children is unlikely to be an effective strategy.
A scoping review of the green parenthood effect on environmental and climate engagement