Tag Archives: research

Millennial Parenting and Religious Behaviors/Weight Update

Today begins a two-parter, and final breakdown, of the Pew Research Center’s survey on millennials. We turn to millennials and religious behaviors and how, ultimately, it will affect millennial parenting.

Religion is perhaps the largest gap between millennials and older generations. Millennials are, by far, less religious at their current age than Boomers and Silent/Greatest generations were.

One in four millennials are unaffiliated with any faith, more than Gen X (20%) and Boomers (13%). Additionally, millennials attend religious services less often and view religion as less important in their lives. But, it is interesting to note that millennials’ views on life after death, miracles, heaven and hell, and God’s existence resemble very much the attitudes of older generations.

68% of millennials consider themselves Christian (43% Protestant and 22% Catholic). That compares to 76% for Gen X, and around 80% for Boomers. But, millennials are really no more likely to be agnostic or atheist than Gen Xers or Boomers. The biggest discrepancy comes from young adults who left their religious upbringing without becoming involved in a new faith.

One-third of millennials say they attend church at least once a week, compared with 41% of those over 30. Those most likely to attend church were Evangelical Protestants (58%) and Historically Black Protestants (59%).

In regards to other religious practices, millennials are less likely to read religious scripture (27% to 36%), meditate on a weekly basis (26% to 43%), and pray every day (48% to 56%). But, these results do not differ much from when Gen X and Boomers were the age of today’s millennials. Data tends to show that daily prayer increases as people get older. In addition, millennials are very much in-line with older generations when it comes to the existence of God, miracles, heaven and hell, and life after death.

I think it’s not hard to show that, well, millennials are less religious right now than their generational counterparts. But, millennials are not less likely to believe in God or a higher power. It rather seems like millennials just tend to do less in practicing religion.

The biggest question surrounding these results is, as millennials grow older, will religious practices increase? Examining the data, it seems like millennials are just as firm in their beliefs as older generations, but less likely to be affiliated with any particular religion.

This is not a recent phenomenon. From my interactions with fellow millennials, we are less likely to approve of “someone or something trying to control our lives”. Religious affiliation tends to be thought of by millennials as that. By and large, it seems as if many millennials prefer to take on a personal relationship with God, rather than using a church or religious organization to help facilitate that. I actually left my original faith (American Baptist), became non-denominational for a while, and am now in the process of joining my wife and son’s faith (Catholicism). Having a kid actually very much changed my views on religiosity. I wanted my son to grow up in a faith, so I started going to church again. And since I wanted my son to be raised Catholic, I also decided to join the church.

It will be interesting to see if similar occurrences take place with millennials, as there is no breakdown right now in religious affiliation between millennials with children and those without.

Churchgoing is very much a trait that is handed down through parenting. That is, if your parents go to church, you probably also go to church, at least for the bulk of your childhood. If millennials do not go to church at the rate at which their predecessors did, it’s less likely our children will attend church as they grow older.

With such a small blip of millennials having children, it’s very hard to tell what is in store for religious affiliation among millennials. Will millennial parents continue/go back to church when they have a child, or will they continue to not go to church? The answer to this question will have a very, very heavy impact on the future of religious affiliation in our country.

Tomorrow, I will break down the final portion of the Pew Research Center’s survey: Religious Beliefs. You’ll definitely want to stay tuned for that one, because it could have a profound impact on how issues in our churches today may change forever.

As an aside, Parker had his weight check today, and grew a full pound this past month, keeping on his percentile curve (finally!). It looks like our little guy is just destined to be a string bean! The pediatrician was very pleased and so are we!


Millennial Parenting and Political Attitudes

Yesterday, I discussed the political party identification and job approval of the President in relation to millennials. Today, the research turns to how millennials view ‘hot topics’ of today’s political environment.

On the whole, millennials pretty much fall in line with other generations on the attitude of businesses, that businesses make fair profits and are not powerful, and millennials are actually more likely to agree that business corporations generally strike a fair balance between making profits and serving the public interest.

Millennials are also less skeptical than older generations about government effectiveness and are more likely to agree that the government should held more needy people even if it means a rising national debt, but even then, support is not strong, and has in fact declined over the past two years.

In national security, millennials are much less likely to support an assertive national security policy, with most millennials not supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are least likely to agree that the best way to ensure peace is through military strength.

As mentioned in the family values section, millennials are also much more likely to support affirmative action, even though a majority does not support. Millennials are also the most likely to agree that ‘it’s all right for blacks and whites to date each other’, with nearly 93% support.

Unfortunately, Pew did not do much research on health-care, social security, or other generational topics, so it’s difficult to see how millennials might affect these issues in the years to come.

Millennials are somewhat stuck in a middle ground right now. They came out of the 2008 election season fervent on an Obama administration and positive attitudes about government. But recently, that tide has turned. However, our views on many political topics have not.

I’m most interested to see how these changes in political identification, but not necessarily political values will affect party politics in this country. As many know, I left the Republican Party around the time of the 2008 election. But as more millennials shift their identification to the GOP, yet haven’t changed their socially liberal views on a number of topics, I have to wonder if the influx of younger millennials into the GOP with socially liberal or libertarian attitudes will change the culture of the Republican Party. Or, will millennials abandon both parties for a change of pace, perhaps a libertarian candidate?

How will this affect parenting? I imagine it won’t be unlike how millennial family values will shape families. If millennials speak about these values in their households, we may very well see attitudes shift significantly as our children grow.

But, both Boomers and Gen X were about the same in identifying as liberal during this time of their lives, and Boomers, at least, tend to be more conservative now. We live in a country where political attitudes change as often as the weather, and it doesn’t appear that millennials are really immune from this. But it will be interesting to see how, if millennials remain solidly liberal on many political issues, this will affect party politics in our country, especially as millennials become a more solid voting block.

Tomorrow begins the final chapter in this series, and will shift the subject to millennials and religion.

Millennial Parenting and Family Values

Perhaps one of the most important sections of the survey—one that will likely have a direct effect on the nation’s future social policies—came in the results on millennial views on family values.

On the whole, millennials, simply, are more tolerant than other generations in what the Pew Research Center called ‘nontraditional behaviors related to marriage and parenting’.

Millennials are the only generation to favor the legalization of gay marriage, and tend to fall more in line with Generation Xers than Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation. In regards to trends in marriage, millennials are least likely to believe that gay couples raising children, working mothers, people living together before marriage, and interracial marriages are a ‘bad thing for society’.

In looking for the reasons why millennials trend this way, Pew took a look at millennials growing up. Of the four major generations, Generation Y responded that 62% of their parents were married while growing up, compared to 71% of Gen Xers, 85% of Boomers, and 87% of Silents. A full quarter of millennials grew up with divorced parents, and another 11% said their parents were never married.

In regards to gay marriage, specifically, only 36% of millennials oppose legalization of gay marriage, bringing them a little more in line with Gen Xers, but creating a wide gap between them and their parents (Boomers oppose gay marriage by a ratio of nearly two-to-one).

Much of the gay marriage debate comes down to who we know. Not surprisingly, those who have a close family member or friend who is gay are also more likely to support gay marriage. For those under 30 that have a gay friend or family member, less than a quarter oppose marriage equality. And millennials are also more likely to have a close friend or family member that is gay (54%), compared to 46% of Gen X, 44% of Baby Boomers, and 26% of the Silent Generation.

As with most issues, thoughts on gay marriage split among demographics, with women more supportive than men, Democrats and Independents more supportive than Republicans, etc. (the topic of political activism will come later), but nonetheless, millennials, by and large, see quite a large gap between them and other generations on the topic of family values.

How could these survey results impact millennial parenting?

The topic of single/two-parent households is muddied. On one hand, one could make the argument that divorce/single-parent households is a normal outcome of a marriage or parenting for millennials, and therefore, millennials are more likely to get divorced themselves or never marry their child’s other parent. But one could also say that millennials did not approve of their parents’ divorce/single-parenthood and will try harder to make marriages work and therefore be less likely to divorce.

Millennials, on average, are getting married later than those in other generations. Research has shown that those married at a young age (generally before 25), are more likely to experience a divorce, especially in the first five years of marriage. Perhaps with millennials waiting to get married, marriages will consist of more mature, responsible spouses and therefore a higher rate of successful marriages. Or, perhaps millennials will be less likely to get married and we will see more single-parent households. The data is, well, forthcoming.

The topic of gay marriage is one that I’ve blogged about a few times (here). My wife and I will talk to Parker about this issue; that not only can marriage exist between a man and woman but it should also be allowed to exist between two men or two women. And it would appear that the majority of our millennial counterparts feel the same way.

If you go back to Political Science 101, you will see that values are most often passed to someone through two structures: family and peers. That is, introduction to certain values and very often, opinions on values, will shape to the opinions around. If your parents and friends support gay marriage, you will probably be more likely to.

I know growing up, I wasn’t entirely supportive of gay marriage, mostly because I grew up in an evangelical area of the country where homosexuality was looked down upon or not even talked about. I didn’t know any openly gay people in school, so I really had no reason to even care.

But I came to college, entered a culture where gays could be open, and became friends with them. I explored an environment that had multiple views on major issues (I can’t recall much debate in my hometown over any political issue, really). During this time, I determined that I supported gay marriage, and married someone else that did, too.

To us, marriage is a family value, and that includes same-sex unions. It absolutely is a value we plan to pass to Parker. If you think about it, millennials grew up during a time when same-sex relationships were not widely accepted, but still ended up widely supporting gay marriage when they became older. If millennials can raise their children in environments that are accepting of gays, there is no reason to think we can’t have marriage equality in this country. And with that comes a whole host of secondary benefits, such as more acceptance of gays in our schools and less bullying due to sexual orientation.

Some have made the argument that as people get older, their views on many issues tend to change, so gay marriage may be something millennials widely support now, but may not in 10 years. I doubt it, because while peoples’ views may change on certain subjects, it tends to do more with issues that affect the wallet and less about social subjects. In any case, I hope this is an issue that millennials are preparing to discuss with their children, either way. Even if some millennial parents don’t support same-sex marriage or relationships, I hope at the very least, homosexuality is discussed and children are told not to treat their gay friends and peers any differently because of their orientation.

I may be taking a break for the weekend on blogging due to work and travel commitments, but I plan to post again tomorrow or Monday on the next topic, Politics & Idealogy.

Part I: Millennial Parenting and Education

I decided to start my series surrounding the recent results of the Pew Research Center’s survey on Millenials with education and how it will affect parenting in the coming generations, and especially as millennials begin to have children of their own.

Education, most can agree–even if we don’t agree on specific education policies–affects very much who a person becomes. It has links to poverty, crime, and overall health and wellness. And it’s undoubtedly one of the most important things a parent looks at when raising a child.

54% of current millennials have attended at least some college, with 40% of millennials still attending college, high school, or trade school. 20% of us have college degrees.  Millennials are also ambitious about their educational futures. About half of millennials still enrolled in school want to pursue a graduate or professional degree.

It comes really as no surprise that someone’s educational goals come mostly from their parents and peers. If you had parents that went to college, you are more likely to go to college. If you go to a high school that sends 90% of its graduates onto some sort of postsecondary school, you’re also more likely to go.

College enrollment is at an all-time high, with significant rises in first-generation college students. As mentioned, 54% of millennials have attended college, compared to about a third of our parents. College has become very much a ‘norm’ for our generation.  Many jobs require a college degree now, and studies have shown that college graduates make significantly more money over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.

This trend will undoubtedly continue on to our children. Children of millennials are finding themselves being born to parents with college degrees. Our son was (and, unfortunately for him, born to a college admissions officer).

When starting families and settling into homes, millennials, more and more, are investigating school districts, studying private school options, and creating 529 college savings plans. It is expected that those of us who went to college (and even those that didn’t) will plan on sending our children to college.

But what about the other half?

I mentioned half of millennials have attended at least some college. But about half of us are not college graduates and are not currently in school. And this is where the data is cause for some concern. Only 14% of millennials believe they need no more schooling. More than a third are not enrolled in school because it costs too much money, and another third aren’t attending because they don’t have the time.

The costs of higher education are still rising. Tuition increases are commonplace. This is not at all an issue that will end with millennials, but something that will continue with our children. College needs to be more affordable, but what are the options? Either you increase financial aid assistance or you lower the costs of college. In general, private and government loans can cover the cost of attendance for most wanting to go to college. But to many families and students (and especially in a tough economic climate), does such a significant debt burden sound like a reasonable option?

This leads to more questions. Will college costs in a college-centric society affect the number of children a family has? For instance, if you want to help pay for your child’s college education, one more child could costs tens-to-hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional education costs. Are colleges ready for what could be a huge enrollment influx in approximately 20-30 years? Will college costs rise to the point where college enrollment drops, even in spite of a generation instilling the values of college in their children?

I suppose the answer right now is: we don’t know. But as the first children of millennials start to grace the halls of elementary school, these are all issues that will soon be at the forefront of educational debate.

Next up in Part II of the series will be the effects of technology on millennial parenting!

Study: Good Parenting Valued by Millennials

Last week, the Pew Research Center finished up the most exhaustive study on the Millennial Generation to date.

The study found, among other things, that Millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse, less religious, and are on track to be the most educated generation in American history. 75% of us have a social networking profile. 37% of us are unemployed, but 9 in ten of us say we have enough money right now or are optimistic about meeting our long-term financial goals.

One in five of us are married, and one in three of us is a parent.

And here is perhaps the best and most relevant information. When asked to name our top priorities in life, 52% of us mentioned “being a good parent”, topping all other priorities including having a good marriage, owning a home, having a high-paying career, having lots of free time, and becoming famous.

Being a good parent tops our priorities. This is the same generation that author Jean Twenge dubbed ‘Generation Me’, suggesting millennials were miserable and narcissistic, yet we care so much about being good parents to our children.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s much to early to write the book on millennial parenting. Only a third of us have children right now, but even the oldest millennials are turning 28 this year. But for ‘Generation Me’ to have such optimistic hope for not only our own future, but our childrens’ future, things look very bright.

I would really encourage you to check out the study. It’s very fascinating to see such a large scale project done on our generation. This is, perhaps, the best look at the future of our country right now, whether it be our top priorities, shifts in values, or parenting. I’m especially interested in how all of these findings will affect parenting. And over the course of the next few days, I’d like to break them down and really get into how these findings might affect millennial parenting.

On a separate note, thanks to the meticulous clicking of the readers, this blog debuted in the Top 100 of topbabyblogs.com. So if you get a chance, be sure to click the brown badge down the side of the page!

How Millennial Are You?

The Pew Research Center has formed this quiz to see just how millennial you might be!

I scored a 95/100. Sounds like I’m true to myself.