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The New Family Values

Jarvis Oxley

What's your deepest wish for your child? Beyond simply being happy? That he shares your religious beliefs, that she values honesty and fidelity, or perhaps that he's tolerant and respectful of others, no matter their differences? Maybe all of the above? 

We live in a warp-speed world, and the information—good, bad, and ugly—that our children are exposed to is vast and unlimited. How do parents control the often uncontrollable? Perhaps by returning to the traditional values that they hope will provide a solid foundation, according to Parenting's recent survey of more than 1,000 moms and dads nationwide. What we discovered: Most of you believe religion is the strongest building block in that foundation; family time really, really matters; and you don't want to raise a quitter, a slacker, or even a teller of little white lies. Your standards for your kids are way high. The challenge is: How to protect them in this wired new world? “We realize that adversity is good for kids, but letting them experience it is hard,” says Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed. Still, it's important to start letting them out into the world, albeit a little at a time. Here's how you're navigating this tricky but oh-so-critical transition:

The New R ‘n’ R: Religion and Rituals

54% of parents belong to an organized religion, but only 27% attend weekly services

31% call themselves spiritual but do not belong to an organized religion

69% say religion is essential to establishing a moral foundation

45% celebrate only religious holidays and important events

71% have regular family traiditons throughout the year

“I know church isn't a necessity for spirituality, but I believe in the fellowship and connections to other people,” says Susan Fudge of Midland, GA, who takes her two kids to a Methodist church nearly every week for Sunday school and services.

Are parents today sending their kids mixed messages by only going to a house of worship during the holidays? Not at all, says Madeline Levine, Ph.D., author of Teach Your Children Well. “Kids know what's important to their parents, so if you live your life according to your beliefs and clarify them for your kids, that's another way they learn to identify with your religion,” adds Levine.