Countless generations have lamented about the problems facing their youth, and it seems that parents today are no different when it comes to concerns about their children’s futures.
A recent NBC News poll, sponsored by Pearson, found that 63 percent of parents believe their children will face more problems growing up than they did. The figure is slightly higher for African-American families. 72 percent of black parents think their children will face more problems growing up than they did, compared to 66 percent of white parents and 59 percent of Hispanics parents.
There are two sides to the coin though, and parents seem more positive when asked whether their children will be better off than they are, especially minority families. Black parents were more optimistic about their children’s futures than white parents, with 59 percent of them saying their children will be better off than they are, compared to 40 percent of white parents.
To see the full results of the “State of Parenting” study, visit www.ParentToolkit.com/poll
This makes sense to some parents. Robert Jeanniton, who is the father of three, believes that because parents today are more involved in their children’s lives, they are providing them with the values that they need to deal with any challenges and become more successful than their parents.
Research conducted over the last several years seems to validate Jeanniton's opinion. The Department of Education has studied parental involvement for years, and they have found that children with involved parents have fewer behavior problems, better academic performance, and are more likely to graduate high school.
“There’s no doubt that kids today are facing more problems, all you have to do is look at the news,” Jeanniton says. "You see stories about the situation in Ferguson, about high unemployment rates within the black community and about dangers like terrorism. It just seems like the world is getting scarier. It worries me when I think about what my kids might go through in the future but the best thing that we can do is to be there for them and prepare them to overcome any obstacles they come across. That’s why it’s important that parents step up and help their children develop skills to succeed in the future.”
Many parents surveyed seem to be taking the same approach as Jeanniton. When it comes to parental involvement, the survey paints an optimistic portrait of how engaged parents are with their children. 51 percent of parents say they spend more time with their children than their own parents did with them and 79 percent say they have family dinners together most nights of the week.
When it comes to their involvement in their children’s education, however, parents are split. 53 percent say they are satisfied with their level of involvement but almost as many (47 percent) wish they could do more. 52 percent of black parents wish they could be doing more, compared with 40 percent of white parents.
While parents are divided over their involvement in their children’s education, they are generally happy with the quality of the education that their children are receiving. Three fourths of parents surveyed describe the quality of their child’s education positively, although 51 percent believe that schools are not preparing kids to enter the job market if they do not choose to go to college.
Not surprising, says Larissa Rollins, a high school teacher in Texas, and mother of one. Rollins says the fact that parents are generally involved and happy with their children’s schools is a sign of encouragement. However, she says that more needs to be done to increase involvement because parents are instrumental to their children’s future success.
“As a teacher, I know that we’re doing our best to set kids up to do well in their lives,” she says. “But parents play the greatest role in their children’s success. That’s why it’s important for educators to see them as partners in the process and help welcome them and support them so that we can make a difference in these children’s lives. If we all work together to give kids the foundation that they need, they should be ready to excel in college and beyond.”
And parents seem to be doing just that, which comes as a relief for Jeanniton.
“We always feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough to prepare our children for the real world,” he says. “It’s good to hear that we're doing something right, because we are doing all we can, and we’re making every effort to raise happy and healthy kids who will be strong enough to succeed in whatever they choose to do. And it’s great to know that we are making some sort of progress.”