The Majority of Kids Reject Parents’ Political Views, Study Finds

November 27, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Vote, American politics. Converse, Sidewalk Chalk
Photo credit: Theresa Thompson/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Agree to disagree.

Logically, it seems that Republicans would raise little Republican kids and Democrats would nurture little Democrats. But interestingly, a new study found that the majority of Americans now reject their parents’ political affiliations.

A Gallup Poll from 2005 revealed that 7 in 10 teenage respondents chose to adopt the political views of Mom and Dad, but the influence of parental politics seems to be slowly losing steam.

“The public, the media, and the academic world have long believed that children learn their political values, such as which party to support or which policy positions to endorse, from their parents,” Christopher Ojeda, a postdoctoral scholar in the Stanford Center for American Democracy at Stanford University, said in a press release. “In this view, learning occurs mostly because parents impose their values on their children.”

However, a new study published in the American Sociological Review analyzed the surveys of thousands of Americans to find that, not only do most young Americans reserve the right to disagree with their parents’ political views, but some failed to even correctly identify their parents’ political affiliations. What can we gather from this? Perhaps parents are being tuned out at an all time high.

SEE ALSO: Does Relationship Status Determine A Woman’s Political Stance?

Though the research classifies the study participants as “children,” the surveys looked at two waves of family studies with children ranging anywhere from 16 to 82 years of age. The first, the Health and Lifestyles Study (HLS) surveyed over 8,600 American families in 1988, and the second, the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY), looked at over 3,300 families in 2006 and 2008.

“Both datasets survey children in adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood, thereby capturing the full range of the life course,” says Peter K. Hatemi, an associate professor of political science at Penn State who worked with Ojeda.

The findings showed that 53.5 percent of the children rejected their mothers’ political affiliation while 54.2 percent did so for their fathers’.

Interestingly, the researchers found that children who had more political discussions with their parents were more likely to to correctly identify their parents’ party affiliations, but those discussions did not increase their chance of adopting their parents’ views.

“We were not surprised by this finding,” Ojeda says. “Parent-child communication is a vehicle for delivering information, but it does not always deliver agreement. As we all know, political discussions can sometimes lead to consensus and they can sometimes lead to conflict.”

Basically, this study shows that kids aren’t just “carbon copies” of their parents, as Hatemi says. With greater access to resources like the internet, people are forming their own political opinions rather than simply taking everything their parents say at face value.

Call it rebellion or call it individualism, but the majority of children are no longer little clones of their parents when it comes to the debate of politics.

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