Why Parents’ Values Fail to Translate to Their Children

PV productions / shutterstock.com
PV productions / shutterstock.com

If you are anything like me, you want your children to have the same values and standards as you. After all, there is a reason you believe as you do, and it’s not just because your parents told you to.

Unfortunately, when it comes to passing on those values and traditions, they don’t always translate really well. And if you are a Republican or conservative, the likelihood of them being rejected is even higher.

According to a poll by the Survey Center on American Life in 2023, Democrats somehow seem to be able to pass on their values and beliefs better.

Per the poll, 62 percent of surveyed adults raised by Democrats are now Democrats. In contrast, 57 percent of adults raised by Republicans end up being Republican.

Now, to be sure, those numbers don’t seem to be all that different, so you may be tempted to ignore them.

However, when broken down into gender, the partisan gap grows substantially higher, especially among younger women.

The study says that 69 percent of men and 73 percent of women raised by Democrats end up being Democrats today. Meanwhile, 67 percent of men and a mere 44 percent of women raised by Republicans are Republicans.

Looking at the opposite numbers, this means that only 27 percent of young women raised by Dems stray from their teachings. In contrast, 56 percent of conservative-raised young women reject their parent’s teachings and the Republican Party.

Naturally, the question is why? Why do Democrats seem so much better at passing on their values, especially to their female children, than Republicans?

Family Research Council Senior Fellow Joseph Backholm and FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview director David Closson think they have an idea.

For starters, Closson notes that parents who lean to the left tend to “have a lot more help.”

Think about educational institutions these days, media coverage, the music made popular today and award-winning movies. They all seem to defend the liberal or progressive point of you.

So, “If you’re… hearing values that are taught at home also reinforced online, … in the movies you watch, the music you listen to – it’s the same values that are taught in the schools you go to – I’m not all that surprised,” Closson says.

It only makes sense, right?

They promote abortion, they support the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, etc.

And those lie in direct contradiction to the Bible and God’s teachings, which tend to be held by more conservatives. At some point, the child has to choose which ideology to believe. And unfortunately, there are usually far too many voices spouting one than the other.

As Closson explains, and as you’ve probably noticed, the beliefs we hold as Christians and conservatives just aren’t all that widely accepted in our society of progressive ideas. In fact, they aren’t
“even polite conservation” topics anymore, especially if you’re talking about marriage, sexuality, and being pro-life.

Another reason is that the dominant ideology of the liberal left is all about radical feminism, which clearly appeals more to women than men.

For example, did you know that women are twice as likely as men to identify themselves as LGBT—naturally, all who do automatically support more progressive ideals.

Similarly, abortion, as what the left calls “women’s rights,” is all about supposedly serving women.

And, of course, our increasingly left-leaning educational system isn’t helping. In fact, women raised by conservatives who then go to college are only half as likely to keep their parent’s beliefs than those who don’t get a secondary education.

So, what are we, as Christians and conservatives, to do? How do we ensure our kids don’t become overly influenced by the other side, and I’m not just talking about political parties?

Well, for starters, we need to vigilantly teach our children.

Think about it: students spend about 16,000 hours being instructed in classrooms where, unfortunately, they are likely being taught to believe something else. A few hours of contrary instruction in church a week is not going to counteract that.

It needs to be a daily, hourly process. Whether you’re preparing daily meals, doing chores, paying the bills, driving to and from, or just chilling at home, we need to impress the right kinds of things on our kids, instructing and teaching them gently about our faith and the values we want them to hold on to.

As Backholm warned, “Unless you are intentional about training a different worldview, (progressivism is) going to be what (your children) absorb from the world around them.”

So, let’s be intentional and determined. Maybe then we can build a world that doesn’t lean quite so far to the left.