A study by the University of Virginia found that there are essentially four types of family cultures in modern day America. The study looked beyond the popular labels (i.e., helicopter parents) and evaluated “parents’ habits, dispositions, hopes, fears, assumptions, and expectations for their children.”
Twenty percent of American parents fall into this category. These parents subscribe to a religious doctrine and use the tenets of said doctrine to instill social traditions and morality in their homes and children. Raising children who adhere to reflect religious beliefs is the main goal, while children’s success and happiness is a secondary goal.
Twenty-one percent of American parents believe that morality centers around personal freedom and responsibility. These parents are skeptical of organized religion and are optimistic about their children’s futures. They value honesty and encourage their children to learn to make responsible choices, often at younger ages than parents who fall in other categories.
Twenty-one percent of parents fall into this category. These parents are generally pessimistic about their ability to protect their children from outside influences. They spend less than two hours per day interacting with their children and report low levels of marital happiness. These parents believe that kids will be kids and that the future will take care of itself.
Twenty-seven percent of parents are American Dreamers. These parents are optimistic about their children’s abilities and opportunities and have an intense desire to be part of their children’s lives. They strive to provide every possible advantage to their children, and work to protect them from negative influences.
Regardless of which category parents fall into, a large majority of American parents express a desire for their children to become loving, responsible, and honest adults who demonstrate good moral character.