Parents are more concerned about their sons becoming successful as adults than they are about their daughters. That’s according to the recently released 6th Annual American Family Survey.
The Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University surveyed 3,000 different people nationwide about their families. This became the American Family Survey for 2020.
One interesting statistic related to boys and success showed that when parents were asked about sons and daughters together, they had an equal measure of concern about their futures. This statistic changed when parents were asked individually about their sons or about their daughters. The survey showed 45% of parents were worries about their boys becoming successful adults, while 30% were worried about their daughters.
Dr. Tim Rarick is a faculty member in the Department of Home and Family at BYU-Idaho. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Kansas State University in Human Development and Family Studies. He serves on the Idaho State Board of Health and Welfare and has presented seven times at the United Nation’s Commission on the status of women.
While Rarick was not involved in the survey, he has extensively studied this topic and many others like it. Rarick said the worry and anxiety mentioned previously is not just from parents. Becoming successful adults causes anxiety in boys as well. He said this anxiety and worry comes from high expectations along with a lack of direction.
“Let’s just say a teenage boy starts a new job working at a place, they give him little to no training, they tell them what they expect… they don’t tell them how; they don’t even give them a training manual or anything like that. That is going to cause a lot of anxiety, I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, you’re going to be anxious,” Rarick said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio.
The unknown future surrounding boys, with a pressure to become successful providers for a family can cause stress in many, Rarick said. He said parents and family members can help their sons become successful. For example, fathers can give their sons a sense of direction by showing them how to be men and helping them learn skills that will prepare them for the future.
“If you really want to solve this, start finding father figures or getting fathers back in the home,” Rarick said. “There’s a preventative approach and a reparative approach. Reparative would be, ‘can we get better father figures in the media? Better father figures in the community?’ If it’s done right, you can start to see, regardless of that family structure, what it means to be a man, what it means to be responsible, compassionate, to have empathy.”
You can help your children know what a successful adult looks like by giving them good role models, he said. Rarick said connecting with your children and having a good relationship with them will allow them to know they have support and can come to you with questions.
“That son needs to feel a connectiveness to his family, especially to his father, and if not, to other positive role models,” Rarick said.
For more information and to view the American Family Survey for 2020, click here.