Asked about the most pressing problem facing American families, Adam Torkildson ignored the cost of raising children, the pandemic and the internet.
According to him, the # 1 problem facing parents is the changing definition of what constitutes a family.
âWhen a family has a father and mother who stay together and raise their children in love and faith, those children become very strong, independent and hardworking. Obviously the way the world works, we’ve always had things that can stress us out, there is always something to worry about, but with a strong family nucleus you can overcome anything â, Torkildson, father of two who lives in American Fork, Utah, said.
The 38-year-old digital entrepreneur has company in the 25% of Republicans who likewise believe that defining marriage is one of the most important issues facing families. But on this and other cultural issues, there is a “serious gap” between Republicans and Democrats, according to the American Family Survey 2021, published Tuesday by Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. from Brigham Young University.
Only 7% of Democrats chose defining marriage as one of their top three concerns. They are also much less likely than Republicans to choose declining religious faith and sexual permissiveness as serious issues facing families. Over the seven years of the inquiry, that has been a notable change, said Jeremy Pope, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University and co-investigator of the inquiry.
This year, less than one in ten Democrats chose cultural issues like promiscuity or declining faith when asked to choose three issues facing American families. Republicans, on the other hand, were more likely to choose cultural issues over job demands, lack of good jobs, and even crime.
A partisan divide was even evident in the way Americans assess the cost of raising a family.
Half of Democrats and 41% of Independents cited the cost of raising children as one of the biggest issues families face, while only 20% of Republicans did, but economic concerns were still among the main concerns of families in general.
Here’s an overview, based on the results of a survey, of how Americans rate the other challenges their families face and how that has changed over time.
Concerns about faith
Three thousand adults took part in the American Family Survey, conducted June 25 to July 8 by YouGov. Now in its seventh year, the annual survey examines how American families live, love and prosper or struggle amid current events. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
The question about the biggest problems facing American families was asked in each of the seven surveys, with a few variations. This year, respondents were asked to choose their top three concerns from nine choices in three categories: economy, culture, and family structure and discipline.
In economics, the cost of raising a family easily outweighed the other three choices: job demands, lack of programs, and lack of good jobs.
In the cultural category, Republicans’ concern about declining religious faith (43%) stands out from other options. The survey reveals a 22-point gap between Republicans’ No. 1 cultural concern and their second, which is sexual permissiveness (21%).
But there is an even bigger gap between the Republicans’ responses and those of the Democrats.
Only 9% of Democrats say a decline in faith is a major concern for families, and 8% say that about sexual permissiveness. The self-employed occupy the middle on both questions: 15% and 16%, respectively.
There is also a large partisan gap for two issues in the category called family structure and discipline. A large portion of Republicans see the lack of discipline (56%) and the increase in single-parent households (43%) as a problem, compared to 30% and 15% of Democrats, respectively.
Democrats, however, are slightly more likely (22%) to view the digital age as a problem for families than independents (16%) and Republicans (16%).
A “changing set of points of view”
Over the life of the American Family Survey, the issue of parents failing to teach or discipline their children has always been at the top of Americans’ concerns, said Pope, who has been on the survey since start. While this is most true for Republicans and Independents, there is a “pretty healthy share” of Democrats who are concerned about this as well.
Concerns about the cost of raising a family are also among the best choices.
For Pope, what stands out most this year is the disinterest in cultural issues among respondents who identified as Democrats. In previous years, âThey used to list cultural things a lot more often, and they stopped listing cultural things as a threat to the family,â Pope said, adding, âThey never did. so much chose the decline of faith, but all of those other things fell dramatically.
Republicans ‘views over time have remained relatively stable, however, while independents have moved closer to Democrats’ views.
âIt represents a changing set of views by partisanship. Democrats increasingly view family challenges as primarily economic, while Republicans (who were much less likely to say family challenges were economic in the first place) still view them as primarily cultural and structural, âthe researchers wrote. .
Another surprise for Pope was that relatively few respondents, regardless of party affiliation, expressed concern about crime. âGiven that we know that crime has increased over the past year – and it has increased everywhere, not just in a few cities – I would have thought that crime would have really increased this year, and it is not. case.”
In fact, crime was the only category ranked almost equally among Republicans (12%), Democrats (14%) and Independents (14%).
“Parents need help”
For Torkildson, his choice of defining family as his primary concern stems from his belief that marriage was ordained by God to be between a man and a woman, and that a strong marriage gives the family the strength to overcome challenges. other issues.
Elissa George, the mother of a 2 year old who lives in Provo, Utah, made a different choice, but for a similar reason. She sees the digital age as a primary concern that brings other issues, including polarization, even within families. “Now things are good or bad, black or white,” she said.
Likewise, Elizabeth Wickham, a mother of two grown children, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, has chosen the digital age, as well as the cost of raising children.
âThere has been so much research on how all this screen time affects young women with depression and anxiety. They have so many problems that we didn’t have when (my generation) was growing up.
Among the best choices overall – teaching / disciplining children (41%), cost of raising children (38%), demand for work (29%), and single-parent homes (27%) – this is the cost to raise a family that has the greatest potential for policy makers to find a solution. The survey found strong support for child tax credits, especially among Democrats and Independents.
A clear conclusion from 7 year old American family, Pope said, âParents need help. They need help paying for the education costs of the children.