A surprising new study shows a large majority (90%) of parents believe that a good career and financial security are what should matter most to their kids – not marriage or building a family of their own. This, at a time, when loneliness, depression, and despair are running rampant with kid and adults alike.
Specifically, the study revealed that roughly half of parents consider it not too important or not important at all if their kids marry or have children of their own.
In an interview with Time magazine, Kay Hymowitz, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, found the results to be “quite stunning.” Such results, she said, are “not a very good sign. We have a culture that is defined by loneliness right now, and what’s going to contribute to that more than the decline of family?”
One possible explanation for the results was parents’ growing concern over the mental wellbeing of their children. The same survey revealed that 40% of parents are ‘extremely concerned’ about the mental health of their children and another 36% are ‘somewhat concerned.’ In fact, mental health was the #1 concern of parents.
Other possible explanations include:
- The difficult state of the world – Global warming, social unrest, rising crime, and a major European war has parents weary of seeing children brought into the world
- Economic uncertainties – A turbulent economy means parents are more likely to prize financial security over getting married and having children
- The nature of work – The rise of the ‘gig’ economy and struggles of many families has many focused on financial versus familial
- The age of the parents being surveyed – Parents of younger children tend to focus more on education and career prospects for their children
- Gender differences – Women were more likely to struggle with kids and, by extension, seee the value of kids over independence
In the same Time interview, W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor at the University of Virginia, suggests the results represent a “broader shift away from family life that we’re seeing play out across much of the developed world.”
Parents, said Wilcox, are pushing their children to value career and money over family. Yet a considerable body of research suggests that “marital status and marital quality tend to be a better predictor of people’s happiness … than their education attainment, their income, or job satisfaction.”