April 22, 2001

More young people than ever before view their parents' working outside the home as a positive development, according to the 2000 Roper Youth Report, an annual syndicated research study focused on American kids, tweens, and teens.

When questioned about the effects of dual working parents on children 12 and younger, nearly three in 10 (27%) believe it has a positive effect on tweens (eight to 12 year-olds), up from 18% in 1990. However, almost a similar number of kids age eight to 17 (31%) feel it will have negative repercussions (down 16 points from 1990).

"Our research indicates that children are indeed becoming more comfortable with the idea of dual-working parents. This is good news since, for many households, it is an economic necessity," says Carolyn Setlow, group senior vice president at Roper Starch Worldwide. "But the nearly evenly divided figures present a more complex picture, with no black-or-white preferences for children and no clear guidelines for parents."

When it comes to teens, a similar number of kids (27%) feel that both parents working has a good effect, but the increase from 1990 was not as significant as for younger children (up 6 points). And the gap is wider when kids were asked about bad effects, with only 20% considering it deleterious -- a six-point decrease since 1990.

The proportion of eight to 17 year-olds who prefer that mom stays home has gone down five points since 1990. While tweens are more likely to want their mothers at home (55%), the numbers drop significantly in the teen years (30%). Once again, kids overall are evenly divided about their preference, with equal numbers (43%) preferring that their mothers either stay at home or work outside the home.

Kids are not nearly as evenly divided when it comes to fathers: Most appear far more comfortable with fathers in the role of breadwinners than as stay-at-home dads. Nearly seven in 10 (67%) say they would prefer to have their father work outside the home, 24 points greater than the proportion that would prefer to have their mother do so (43%).

Few children of any age indicate they would prefer a stay-at-home dad. However, with trends indicating that fathers are taking a more active role in child rearing, kids do not entirely reject the idea. While only 10% overall indicate they want their dads to stay at home, 15% of eight to 12 year-olds say they would prefer a stay-at-home dad -- three times the proportion of teens (5%).

The research for the study was conducted face-to-face at home with a nationwide cross-section of 1,200 children ages 6 to 17, from March 4 to April 15, 2000.

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