- A new study sheds light on parents’ concerns and hopes for their children as they grow up.
- In the report, parents were most concerned about their children’s mental health, financial stability and job satisfaction.
- Things like getting married, having children and studying were not so high on the parents’ wish list.
Parents are concerned about their children’s mental health, financial stability and job satisfaction, but they are less concerned about other signs of success in life, such as getting married, having children or going to college, a new Pew study suggests. Research Centre.
In the survey of 3,700 parents, 4 in 10 said they were extremely or very concerned about their children struggling with anxiety or depression, with their children being bullied being their next biggest concern.
At the other end of the spectrum, parents were the least concerned about their children getting into trouble with the police – 67% said they were “not too” or “not at all” concerned – while 54% said that they weren’t worried about their kids getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant as a teen.
Given the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on mental health in this study isn’t shocking, says Joseph Galasso, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Baker Street Behavioral Health.
“We’ve just undergone an unprecedented shift in how we experience our daily lives and the level of control we’ve felt over ourselves in recent years,” Galasso told Healthline. “As such, I think this level of concern is likely an upward trend based on historical data. However, it is clearly related to the pandemic we have endured. We have seen a very real increase in our physical practice in the use of services by children and teens in recent years.
Courtney Conley, EdD, a parenting coach in Maryland, agreed.
“Studies have shown that the prevalence of mental health problems has increased in adolescents, with rates of depression and anxiety rising faster in teens than in adults,” she told Healthline. “Given the rise in mental health concerns among young people, it makes sense that this would be an increasing concern for parents.”
With mental health being such a major concern among parents, it is perhaps unsurprising that a large majority of parents (88%) say their children’s financial stability and job satisfaction as adults are very or extremely important to them, it turned out from the investigation.
This compares to 21% and 20% respectively who say it is essential for their children to marry or have children when they grow up.
“I think this speaks to changes in societal expectations and values, which I attribute in part to the pandemic,” Conley said. “Being forced to slow down and pivot as a society caused a mental shift for people. Once people were removed from stressful, demanding and unsatisfying work environments, it was difficult for them to return. We are starting to move away from the ‘busy’ culture and put more emphasis on well-being and balance.”
“This is a positive shift given the impact stress has on our well-being and mental health,” she added. “It’s great that people want stability and fulfillment for their children. Having one without the other will create an imbalance that leads to dissatisfaction.”
Among other values, parents also highly rated their children being honest and ethical (94% said it was extreme or very important) over other factors such as sharing the same religious beliefs (35%) or political beliefs (16%).
While work and financial success across the board was a strong hope for parents, it was much less the case for their children getting a college education.
Only 4 in 10 parents said getting their kids to college is very important to them.
“It’s not surprising that parents are thinking outside of college education, as more and more young people are increasingly skeptical of the high school-to-college route and desire more flexible post-secondary education paths,” said Jean Eddy, CEO of the nonprofit company. for career planning American Student Assistance.
“In the spring of 2022, there were 662,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs compared to the previous year, and a recent survey found that only 53 percent of current high school students say they are likely to attend college,” Eddy told Healthline.
And where college was once seen as a primary path to career success, there are signs that thinking is changing, too.
“A recent survey commissioned by American Student Assistance and Jobs for the Future and conducted by Morning Consult found that 81 percent of employers now believe they should be looking at skills rather than degrees when hiring,” she noted. .