America's 4 parenting cultures: Which one is yours?

What parenting culture do you belong to? Do you spank? Attend church regularly? Believe teens need birth control education? Let your belief in the inherent goodness of humans guide your parenting? There are "Four Family Cultures" or moral ecosystems in the US, say researchers at the University of Virginia's Culture of American Families Project. See where you fit in to the four cultures of Faithful, Detached, Engaged Progressive or American Dreamer.

–  Stephanie Hanes, Modern Parenthood Blogger

2. The Engaged Progressives


The Engaged Progressives make up 21 percent of American parents, researchers found.

These moms and dads hold central the virtue of personal freedom and making good choices. They are concerned with raising children who will be able to weigh alternatives and think through a course of action – and who are careful to not directly harm others. (Doing no harm is the closest to any moral “rule” for the Engaged Progressives. Most say they trust their own sense of “what feels right” to decide what is true – as opposed to, say, the Faithful, who will look to religious doctrine – while 64 percent believe there are few moral absolutes and that right or wrong varies from situation to situation.) Other values lauded by Engaged Progressives are honesty, openness, empathy, rational explanation, and justice.  

So what does this mean in parenting practice? Engaged Progressives are less likely to use punishments such as grounding or scolding; they are more opposed to spanking than other parents; they tend to let their kids attend parties earlier and they believe children should receive information about birth control by age 14. They believe in public schools but are suspicious of religion; they eat dinner regularly with their children but don’t say prayers. Three-quarters believe that divorce is better than an unhappy marriage – almost the reverse of The Faithful – but just as many Engaged Progressives as Faithful  parents are married. Engaged Progressive moms are as likely as Faithful moms to stay home with preschool-age children, but don’t adopt the label as “homemaker,” instead seeing themselves as “taking a break” from their professional lives.    

The demographics: 71 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black. They are more highly educated than other parents – 46 percent have completed a four-year degree compared with 31 percent of other moms and dads. Twenty percent have post-graduate degrees. Most live in the Northeast or on the Pacific Coast; Democrats outnumber Republicans 4 to 1. 

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