By Heidi Stevens
The vast majority of conservative Americans - 81 percent - believe it's "especially important" for children to be taught religious faith, while most liberals - 88 percent - place tolerance at the top of their list of values children should learn.
A new American Trends Panel survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, interviewed 3,243 adults (with and without children) about what qualities we should be instilling in children.
The study feels like pulling up a chair to the dinner tables we may never otherwise join, given our tendency to move in tiny echo chambers. (A Pew Research Center report earlier this summer found folks on both the left and right "associate primarily with like-minded people, to the point of actively avoiding those who disagree.")
In the American Trends survey, 93 percent of respondents across all political ideologies say teaching responsibility is especially important, with 55 percent calling it the most important trait to instill in children. Helping others also ranked highly across all ideologies, as did hard work, independence and good manners.
But the common ground mostly ends there.
Among liberals, 82 percent rank curiosity as especially important to teach children and 85 percent give high marks to creativity. Among conservatives, 57 percent call curiosity especially important and 63 percent say the same about creativity. Eighty-six percent of liberals say empathy is important to teach children, while just 55 percent of conservatives agree.Conservatives value obedience in much higher numbers than liberals, with 67 percent of conservatives calling it especially important to teach children, compared to 35 percent of liberals.The aforementioned religious faith, highly prized by conservatives, receives high priority from just 26 percent of liberals. And the tolerance that so many liberals value? Just 41 percent of conservatives give it high ranks.
It's fascinating to imagine how our values shape our ongoing conversations about homework, bullying, peer pressure, free time, chores and the dozens of other topics families cover on the daily commute, around the breakfast table, during bedtime chats.
It's instructive to know our kids' classmates and peers are likely getting very different coaching at home on everything from obedience to empathy.
And it's comforting to know that above and in spite of our other differences, the majority of us want children to learn how to help others.
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