The University of Virginia has released a new study that
evaluates differing parenting types. The study, notes Janice Crouse
of Concerned Women for America, not only looks at what parents
believe, but what they model to their children.
Four types of family cultures - the Faithful, the Engaged
Progressives, the Detached, and the American Dreamers - are molding
the next generation of Americans, as a three-year study by the University of Virginia's Institute
for Advanced Studies in Culture finds.
The Faithful (20% of American parents) adhere to a divine and
timeless morality, handed down through Christianity, Judaism or
Islam, giving them a strong sense of right and wrong. Understanding
human nature as "basically sinful" and seeing moral decline in the
larger society, including in the public schools, the Faithful seek
to defend and multiply the traditional social and moral order by
creating it within their homes and instilling it in their children,
with support from their church community. Raising "children whose
lives reflect God's purpose" is a more important parenting goal
than their children's eventual happiness or career success.
For Engaged Progressives (21% of parents), morality centers
around personal freedom and responsibility. Having sidelined God as
morality's author, Engaged Progressives see few moral absolutes
beyond the Golden Rule. They value honesty, are skeptical about
religion and are often guided morally by their own personal
experience or what "feels right" to them. Politically liberal and
the least religious of all family types, they are generally
optimistic about today's culture and their children's prospects.
Aiming to train their children to be "responsible choosers,"
Engaged Progressives strategically allow their children freedom at
younger ages than other parents. By age 14, their children have
complete information about birth control, by 15 they are surfing
the Internet without adult supervision, and by age 16 they are
watching R-rated movies.
The parenting strategy of The Detached (19% of parents) can be
summarized as: Let kids be kids and let the cards fall where they
may. The Detached are primarily white parents with blue-collar
jobs, no college degree and lower household income. Pessimistic
about the future and their children's opportunities, they report
lower levels of marital happiness and do not feel particularly
close to their children. They feel they are in a "losing battle
with all the other influences out there" and it shows in their
practices. They spend less than two hours a day interacting with
their children, they do not routinely monitor their children's
homework and they report lower grades for their children. When they
do have dinner together as a family, it is often in front of the
American Dreamers (27% of parents) are defined by their optimism
about their children's abilities and opportunities. These parents,
with relatively low household income and education, pour themselves
into raising their children and providing them every possible
material and social advantage. They also invest much effort
protecting them from negative social influences and shaping their
children's moral character. This is the most common family culture
among blacks and Hispanics, with each group making up about a
quarter of American Dreamers. American Dreamers describe their
relationships with their children as "very close" and express a
strong desire to be "best friends" with their children once they
So what's the message to
Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America notes the
study not only looks at what parents believe, but what they model
to their children.
"It's really important that parents - a married couple, mom and
dad - live in front of their kids the kind of give-and-take that is
required for a couple to really mesh and be united as a couple,"
she says. "And that's the same kind of thing that it takes to have
a good community. If kids don't see that lived out on a day-to-day
basis, they are the poorer for it."
The study found most parents feel as if they are "going it
alone," reporting a very thin support network. Many also reported
feeling helpless to the negative effects of modern technology.
"So many parents said they felt they were at the mercy of
external influences, the cultural kinds of things that they can't
keep their kids protected from: the Internet, movies, Facebook,
entertainment in general. All of those kinds of things have such a
negative influence on kids," she tells OneNewsNow. "And parents are
pretty helpless when it comes to shielding their kids from it
because it's all pervasive. It's out there everywhere."
This study, funded by an $850,000 grant from the John Templeton
Foundation, goes beyond parenting styles to analyze parents'
habits, dispositions, hopes, fears, assumptions and expectations
for their children.