Character Traits Parents Want In Their Children

By Lewis Willis

The Akron Beacon Journal (7-3-85) printed an article by an Associated Press reporter, S.J. Guffey, regarding a ten-year study seeking to discover the traits parents want to see in their children. The study was funded by The Western Regional Experiment Station, a part of the USDA Research system at the nation’s land-grant universities. The Survey involved 5200 families in California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii.

It was learned that these parents, whether living in big cities or on small farms, and regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, were seeking to raise their children so that they would develop the same basic values. Jerry Bigner, a Professor at Colorado State University, who participated in the survey, said, “Traditionally, there are differences between urban and rural people on umpteen kinds of traits. We don’t find that anymore.”

Parents were asked which of the following social traits they wanted to see developed in their children: consideration, cooperation, curiosity, assertiveness, understanding of others, ability to comfort others, good behavior, ability to get along, happiness, creativity’ persistence, responsibility, self-control, self-reliance, sense of identity, and tolerance. Professor Bigner called it “disturbing” that the traits that ranked lowest among parents’ desires for their children were “consideration of others, tolerance and ability to comfort.”

Bigner noted that tolerance and being considerate are important social skills. However, since most of the parents identified these skills at the bottom of their list of priorities for their children, he said, “I see a society of rude, intolerant adults.” I suspect that the accuracy of this ten-year study is basically unquestionable.

More and more we are seeing a lack of consideration for others and intolerance evident throughout our society. It is already discernible among many adults, and you cannot expect that the children of those parents will be any different. Through indifference and carelessness each generation becomes less and less thoughtful and considerate of others. Parents are going to wake up one of these days wondering what happened.

The answer to the “what happened” question is “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Of course, not all parents are making this mistake. Some are trying to instill in their children social skills that are Bible-based. This is as it should be and God’s people must certainly be in that group developing these traits in their children. However, a word of warning is in order. If we are not diligent in fulfilling parental responsibilities regarding our children, they are going to grow up with the same deplorable social traits as the children of the non-religious and un-churched segment of our society. If this happens, Satan will rejoice over his success!

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 16, p. 493
August 15, 1985