ACROSS THE GAP: Should We Be Worried That Kids No Longer Find Their Parents ‘Old-Fashioned’?

For better or worse, the generation gap is narrowing. A recent survey on ‘Family Values in the 1990s,’ commissioned by Good Housekeeping and conducted by The Roper Organization, finds children certifying their parents as ‘up-to-date’ rather than ‘old-fashioned’ about such matters as kids’ clothes, entertainment, preferences in food and consumer products, even music. Does this mean parents are capitulating to their kids’ tastes, or vice versa? Sounds like some of each, though (somewhat reassuringly) the survey also finds that kids pay more heed to their parents than to friends, siblings or teachers on a range of important matters – including sex, drinking, spending money, what to study in school and AIDS. But which parent’s opinion really counts? In this era of the (supposedly) more-involved dad, it’s still mother who knows best. ‘When asked about 11 subjects, large numbers of children say the opinion of both parents is important,’ says a summary of the survey results. ‘Yet, two to eight times as many children say their mother’s opinion alone – not their father’s – is most important.’ And that’s partly because mothers are still around more than fathers. Far more fathers than mothers in the survey expressed regret about not spending enough time with the kids. And it seems these fathers may not even spend as much time with the kids as they think: ‘There is a wide gap between what fathers report doing for and with their children and what children say their fathers find time to do with the family.’ On the other hand, the mothers – ‘perhaps because they better understand their spouses’ time constraints’ – tended to corroborate the fathers’ version of things.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)