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Culture & Religion

The Four Types Of American Families

Findings of a three-year study released yesterday identify a set of distinct parenting “cultures” — the Faithful, the Engaged Progressives, the Detached and the American Dreamers.

What’s the Latest Development?

A recently released study titled “Culture of American Families” describes four largely invisible but powerful types of family cultures that researchers believe are shaping the next generation of Americans. The three-year study went beyond typical psychology-based parenting research to examine “the complex story of parents’ habits, dispositions, hopes, fears, assumptions and expectations for their children.” Three thousand parents of school-age children completed an online survey; over 100 of them were then interviewed in person.

What’s the Big Idea?

The four culture types identified, which together comprised 89 percent of families surveyed, are:

  • The Faithful: These parents base their moral compass on religion and seek to maintain traditions within their homes and through their children.
  • The Engaged Progressives: These parents view morality through a lens of personal responsibility and freedom and strive to raise “responsible choosers.”
  • The Detached: These parents don’t feel very close to their children and tend to adopt a “let kids be kids and let the cards fall where they may” attitude.
  • The American Dreamers: These parents are very optimistic about their children’s future and focus heavily on giving them every possible advantage while also protecting them from negative influences.
  • The study also identified a number of parenting trends, including largely thin support networks and the rejection of authoritarian forms of discipline.

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