There’s a gap between what adults say they value in their kids and what they show they value through their actions. And kids are picking up on it. A recent Harvard study found that when asked what is more important to them, “achieving at a high level, happiness or caring for others,” 80 percent of the middle and high school applicants put themselves first. Jessica Lahey explains the rhetoric gap in an Atlantic article.
“While 96 percent of parents say they want to raise ethical, caring children, and cite the development of moral character as ‘very important, if not essential,’ 80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents ‘are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.’ Approximately the same percentage reported that their teachers prioritize student achievement over caring. Surveyed students were three times as likely to agree as disagree with the statement, ‘My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.'”
A new study from Harvard University reveals that the message parents mean to send children about the value of empathy is being drowned out by the message we actually send: that we value achievement and happiness above all else.