Moms Aspire to be Modern Day June Cleavers, According to a New Women at NBCU Study Which Paints a Dramatically Altered Picture of Today's American Family

Study Reveals 77% of Moms Prefer Their Children Have Good Manners Over Good Grades

Oct 04, 2011, 09:45 ET from NBCUniversal

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's moms are aspiring to be modern day June Cleavers, according to a just released Women at NBCU study. At the most unconventional time in motherhood, where only 4% of today's families fall into the US Census definition of "traditional,"[1] a remarkable 49% of moms say "Traditional" is the number one parenting style they aspire to be. Reflecting this bent towards values of a different era, an astounding 77% of the moms surveyed prefer to have children with good manners over good grades.

And while moms continue to make inroads in the workforce, interestingly, their aspirations are changing as well. In another sign that they are embracing a more traditional lifestyle, 66% of moms say they would rather be a stay-at-home parent than a working parent. Additionally, the majority of employed moms (53%) feel that while financially they need to work, they would prefer to be stay-at-home moms. The rift between reality and aspiration has never been wider, supported by the startling fact that only 12% of moms in the study say they believe they are very accurately portrayed in advertising.

"Although moms are not saying they want to go back to the 1950s, they are clinging to certain values and traditions associated with that time period," said Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP of Trends and Strategic Insights, Integrated Media at NBCUniversal. "There's a backlash to the complexity of current conditions like the economy and fragmented families. Brands with strong "roots" have an opportunity to play up their heritage or consider resurrecting brand assets from this past. Ultimately, though, women will need products and services that are modern and can keep pace with their everyday realities – traditional cannot mean 'old school.'"

According to the study, dads' aspirations are shifting dramatically, too. More than 1/3 of dads (36%) would prefer to be a stay-at-home parent than a working parent. Additionally, while dads claim they are pitching in at home more than fathers of previous generations, perceptions about the actual amount of housework diverges between partners: 61% of dads say they split the household labor and childcare equally with their partner, while only 27% of moms feel the home workload is evenly split.

The survey also shed light on the fact that, ironically, the most technically-connected generation of moms, Gen Y's (18-32 years old), are the ones who actually feel most out of touch. Nearly twice as many Gen Y's (42%) as Gen X's (24%) felt isolated when they first became mothers. This is, in part, attributed to the fact that women are becoming mothers at all different ages and, thus, cannot necessarily relate to their peers. Unlike previous eras, first-time motherhood can span four decades.

Other noteworthy findings from Women at NBCU's new family study include:

  • 60% of moms believe that in 10-20 years there will be as many stay-at-home dads as there are stay-at-home moms.
  • Moms reported that the "breakdown of the traditional family" was the second most serious issue facing children today, right after drug abuse.
  • 31% of moms reveal that they tend to linger longer in the shower, while running errands, on appointments or during a commute, just to find a little more alone time during the day.
  • 30% of moms believe that in order to keep up with today's competitiveness, a child's education begins at or even before birth.
  • Moms chose Reese Witherspoon as the celebrity mom they most identified with.


Nationally representative survey among 3,224 moms and 403 dads fielded in June and August of 2011.  In addition we conducted 8 in-home ethnographies with moms, 8 in-home focus groups with moms and 1 focus group with dads.

About Women At NBCU:

Launched in May 2008, Women at NBCU is a powerful combination of media assets reaching women across multiple platforms. This ad sales, marketing and research initiative creates custom solutions for advertisers to connect with female consumers via NBCUniversal's wide portfolio, including Oxygen, Style, iVillage, Telemundo, Sprout, DailyCandy, Bravo, "TODAY," as well as other female-skewing primetime shows on NBC. With its television, digital, and new media platforms, NBCUniversal reaches 95% of U.S. women per month and is home to six of the top ten cable networks with the highest concentration of mom viewers 18-49.

[1]  US Census defines “traditional” families as working father and stay-at-home mother with kids under 18