Conservatives teach their kids religion, liberals teach their kids to think of others

What will they learn?
What will they learn?
Image: AP Photo/Richard Rodriguez
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Parents on both sides of the US political spectrum say that being responsible is the most important thing to teach children. And that’s pretty much where the similarities end. According to a Pew Research survey out today, children of liberals are in for a lot of instruction about empathy, tolerance, and curiosity, while children of conservatives can count on a much more parental guidance regarding religion, work ethic, and manners.

Image for article titled Conservatives teach their kids religion, liberals teach their kids to think of others

The survey asked Americans about the importance of teaching various values to children. Most of the respondents said children should learn all 12 of these values. The numbers in the chart reflect what “consistently liberal” and “consistently conservative” people—the ones on opposite ends of the spectrum—identified as one of the three most important traits to pass on.

Liberals aren’t nearly as unified as conservatives in their approach to childrearing; among the traits they identified as being most important, none mustered a majority sentiment, while an emphasis on teaching responsibility and religious faith was shared by more than half the conservative respondents.

The stark contrast in the numbers for religion, empathy, curiosity, and tolerance might help explain why people grow up with such fierce differences of opinion, or why Congress never gets anything done. Take heart, though—while America’s little ones might be destined for a life of partisan bickering, at least they are likely, regardless of their parents’ political stripes, to have been instructed to be responsible about it.