SWNYSERVICE by Marie Haaland
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“Be respectful,” “be thankful for what you have” and “honesty is the best policy” are the top three life lessons American parents hope to teach their children, according to a new survey.
Rounding out the top five life lessons parents want to instill are “never give up” and “learn from your mistakes.”
A survey of 2,000 parents, commissioned by the YMCA and conducted by OnePoll, looked at the top life lessons and mantras that parents hope to teach their children, as well as the challenges many face in doing so; among them income, time and, perhaps surprisingly, zip codes.
For parents who felt they hadn’t quite been able to teach their children all the things they wanted to, practical and financial barriers were evident. The top reasons cited include working more than 40 hours a week (33 percent), being focused on providing necessities (23 percent) and not being able to spend enough time with their children (22 percent).
And many parents – 43 percent overall – report living in a certain zip code because of the opportunities it afforded to their family. This rises to more than half when looking at parents who make above $80,000 per year, individually.
The survey also found that 37 percent of parents believe the zip code they were born in determined their future.
“While it may sound surprising, research shows that one single digit can have a drastic effect on your entire life,” said Kevin Washington, CEO of Y-USA. “With Ys in 10,000 communities across the country, we witness the effects of zip code disparity daily and work in each community to first identify their specific needs, and then to close those opportunity gaps.”
Time and money were found to be among the barriers for many parents working to teach their children life lessons and skills. Parents who struggled in this endeavour reported additional contributing factors such as being a single parent (20 percent), a lack of finances needed to teach the lesson/skill (20 percent) and working more than one job (17 percent).
Results show that life lessons are most commonly taught by a parent (75 percent), at a school and/or by teachers (47 percent) and by other family members (46 percent).
With schools and teachers playing such an important role in children’s lives, it’s interesting to note that 54 percent of parents have moved in order to ensure their child is in a better school or school district.
“Children learn life skills, both hard skills such as how to swim and soft skills such as teamwork, in a variety of different ways, often through organized programs, but also through informal person-to-person interactions,” said Washington. “As a kid who grew up going to the Y myself, I can attest to the power of mentors, coaches and other role models I met there, who can step in and lend parents a helping hand in teaching kids these important life lessons and skills.”
Many parents believe the important life lessons haven’t changed over the years: Seventy-nine percent of parents report working to teach their children the same lessons they learned growing up.
Still, with a changing society there are new things to teach children, especially when it comes to technology.
Parents say new skills they hope to teach their children – ones they didn’t learn themselves – include how to be safe online and how to develop social skills in an increasingly digital world. One parent noted, “My childhood was radically different than my son's. His access to social media and video games has made learning face to face social skills more challenging.”
Regardless of which life lessons and skills parents feel are the most important, 70 percent agree that their community provides opportunities for their children’s growth – and 80 percent feel that having a welcoming place to gather is important in strengthening their neighborhood.
TOP 10 LIFE LESSONS PARENTS WANT TO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN
Be thankful for what you have
Honesty is the best policy
Never give up
Learn from your mistakes
Don’t be quick to judge people
Take care of your physical health
Listen before you speak
Spend time with the people you love
TOP 10 LIFE SKILLS PARENTS WANT TO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN
Good hygiene practices
Drive a car
Be aware of your surroundings
Basic housekeeping skills
Reading and comprehension
Make healthy food choices