Michele Borba: Would you rather have an Albert Einstein or Mother Theresa? My survey of 2400 moms show caring is now valued more than smart (YES!!!)

by | Oct 9, 2009 | The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

Surprising Truth about the Kids Moms Really Want to Raise

Note to reader: I began writing The Big Book of Parenting Solutions by conducting a survey of moms (“Joys of Motherhood Survey”)to get their pulse on mothering. I developed survey questions and the survey design and analysis done by Consumer Insights, Meredith Corporation (I serve as a board member on Parents magazine). In all a total of 2140 female completed the survey, the bulk of responses were 25 to 39 years of age. The results actually surprised and pleased me. Survey demographics are on page 627 of The Big Book of Parents Solutions and a description of the results is on pages xxxiii-xxxvi.

The article below was posted by NewsBlaze this week (“Breaking News: New Parenting Survey Reveals Caring is Valued Over Smart!”) I’ll be sharing tips in the next few blogs on how to raise a caring kids from my new book — I’ll also share you where to find those tips in this resource so you can start using those with your kids. Who knows? We just may have a new bumper crop of Mother Theresa’s!

Ask any parent what they want their kids to be and you’re sure to hear “healthy and happy.” But what comes next on their priority list? The results of a new survey by educational psychologist Michele Borba show that most of us would rather raise the next Mother Teresa than the next Albert Einstein.

What do you want for your child? It’s a universally pondered question. From the first glow of pregnancy through tumultuous toddlerhood all the way through the jam-packed years of school, moms and dads have plenty of time to consider the traits they want to cultivate in their kids. And if you had to predict the typical parent’s wish list, you might (safely) assume “healthy and happy” tops the list. But what would come next? Parenting expert Michele Borba, Ed.D., says the answers might not be what you’d expect.

In the new “Joys of Motherhood Survey” Borba conducted in conjunction with Parents Magazine, 2,140 mothers rated the top ten traits that they’d like their own children to possess. The participants were asked to rank traits that ranged from spiritual and secure to moral and confident. Results of the study were more than a little surprising.

Here are the ten traits, in order of the percentage of moms who rated them as very important:

  • Trait Percentage
  • Healthy 98
  • Happy 97
  • Secure 95
  • Caring 94
  • Confident 94
  • Moral 91
  • Resilient 66
  • Smart 65
  • Social 61
  • Spiritual 52
  • “It’s no surprise that healthy and happy topped the list,” says Borba, author of the new book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, September 2009, ISBN: 978-0787988316). “What is interesting is that more moms rated secure, caring, confident, and moral as ‘very important’ than they did smart.”

    In light of our culture’s emphasis on succeeding in a competitive academic and business world, Borba says it’s both unexpected and refreshing to see that parents care more about their children having a strong, solid character than they do about them being a shoe-in for valedictorian or having a future in the Ivy Leagues. And the survey, which is included in the introduction to her new book, seems to suggest just that.

    “Of course parents want their children to do well in life,” she continues. “That’s a given. But it’s nice to see that they understand the importance of raising a child who is a good, well-rounded person-not just a brainiac who can make the grade. After all, there are plenty of successful people-CEOs and enterprising entrepreneurs-who didn’t have the highest IQ scores or degrees from top academic institutions.”

    Even more important, stresses Borba, is that today’s parents are realizing that happiness isn’t all about the prestigious diploma or the paycheck you earn.

    “Happy adults are the ones who are confident being themselves, who care about others and have others who care about them,” she concludes. “And this study shows us that moms and dads want to raise their kids to be good people, to be happy, and to be contributors to the world around them. In a time when bad news is more common than good, it’s nice to see a shining glimmer of hope for our future generations-all thanks to the people who are raising them.

    Kids Who Care: Twelve Research-Based Tips for Raising the Confident, Caring Kids Every Parent Wants From Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, September 2009, ISBN: 0787988316).