Monday, May 18, 2015

Attitudes reported by Georgian parents and the qualities they find important for children to learn

The vast majority of Georgians (90%) agree with the statement that one of their main goals in life has been to make their parents proud, according to the 2008 World Values Survey (WVS). It would be hard to overestimate the importance of family for Georgians, and the same is true for the attention paid, on the one hand, to raising children and, on the other hand, caring for elderly family members. But to what extent do parents themselves share the values they claim are important for children to learn? WVS data provides us with the opportunity to find answers to this question by comparing the qualities that Georgian parents report as important for children to learn with their own attitudes and values that they report while answering a number of survey questions.

According to WVS data, 76% of adult Georgians had at least one child in 2008, and throughout this blog post, we focus on parents’ responses. The absolute majority – 90% – of parents report it is especially important for children to learn to work hard, be responsible (81%), be tolerant and respect other people (72%), have religious faith (67%), and be independent (52%).

Do the parents themselves possess these qualities? In order to answer this question, let’s take a closer look at parents’ attitudes towards hard work, tolerance, religiosity and independence.

Hardworking? According to WVS data, about 20% of parents who name hard work as an especially important quality for children to learn, ‘neither agree nor disagree’ or ‘disagree’/’strongly disagree’ with the statements that ‘people who don’t work become lazy’ and ‘work should always come first, even if it means less free time’ (22% and 21%, respectively). Furthermore, 29% of these parents ‘neither agree nor disagree’ or ‘disagree’/’strongly disagree’ with the statements that ‘work is a duty toward society.’ We can, therefore, claim that it appears that some parents want their children’s generation to be harder working than they are themselves.

Tolerant? 93% of those parents who said that ‘tolerance and respect for other people was an especially important quality for children to learn, named homosexuals among the groups they would not like to have as neighbors. Furthermore, 37% of them would not like to be neighbors with people of a different religion, and 23% report the same about people of a different race and immigrants/foreign workers, thus hardly passing a hypothetical test on tolerance.

Religious? 97% of parents who name this value as important for children to learn claim to be religious people themselves, and 90% say that God is very important in their lives. However, when it comes to religious practice, the share of parents who pray or attend religious services is relatively low – 28% say they do not take moments of prayer, meditation or contemplation, and 61% report attending religious services only on special holidays or less often.

Independent? The absolute majority (94%) of parents who name independence as an especially important quality for children to learn, ‘strongly agree’/‘agree’ with the statement that they decide their goals in life by themselves. However, 21% of these parents still live with their parents instead of leading an independent life, and 40% of these adults still living with their parents are between 36 and 45 years old, an age group at which one is not too young to be expected to take care of oneself. Even though those living together with their parents often due to economic problems which many Georgian families face, or in order to take care of their parents, one could argue that it is also a sign of mutual dependence between adult children and their parents. In a number of cases, even if adult children can afford to live separately, they often prefer to stay with their parents. The latter can be regarded as a sign of dependence.

To conclude, Georgian parents want children to be hardworking, responsible, tolerant, and independent, and to have religious faith. As the findings presented in this blog post show, some of the parents naming these very qualities, however, fail to share these values themselves. The best demonstration of this is, probably, the large share of parents who mention ‘tolerance and respect for other people,’ but do not want to have homosexuals or people of a different religion or race as their neighbors.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the CRRC Facebook page, here, or in the comments section below.

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