The Real Insurance Family Values Survey

The Real Insurance Family Values Survey The Real Insurance Family Values Survey investigates the shifting values and concerns affecting Australian families, and explores how we’re embracing changes to traditional family values and how this has changed over the years.

24 Aug 2018

As we race through the twenty-tens, Aussies have noticed that ‘traditional’ family values are changing and, as a nation, we’re welcoming these changes with open arms! We’re more accepting of different family models, we’re getting rid of outdated stereotypes, and technology is helping our children learn more about the world. It’s happening quickly too, with three-quarters (76.6%) of us thinking family values are different now compared to ten years ago and a similar number (78.1%) believing society’s views on what constitutes a family have also changed.

The Real Insurance Australian Family Values Survey is the thirteenth instalment in a series of national studies investigating the shifting values and concerns affecting Australian families. This chapter explores how we’re embracing changes to traditional family values and how this has changed over the years.

real family values infographic

Saying goodbye to outdated stereotypes

It’s clear from the research that ‘traditional’ family stereotypes are falling by the wayside. The majority of us are happy that parents no longer feel the need to stay together if they’re unhappy in their relationship (70.2%) and men are no longer expected to be the family breadwinner (65.7%). The Victorians amongst us are the most pleased that the stereotype of men being the breadwinners (74.7%) has dwindled. Many of us are also pleased that well defined gender roles (56.8%) and the idea that children should only speak when spoken to (61.6%) have fallen out of fashion. Instead of holding on to these stricter values, we’re placing more importance on living in a society that treats everyone with respect and watches out for each other.

For those of us who continue to put stock in traditional family values, unconditional love and spending time together as a family are still considered important to more than two in five of us (41.5%), as they bring families together (42.1%) and help to establish moral ground (28.0%). We’re not all completely sold on how important family values are though – nearly two in five of us (38.4%) consider them less important today due to changes in society (47.8%) and the belief that traditions are becoming outdated (22.7%).

The modern-day family

When it comes to marriage, some of us are seeing less of a focus on this as part of the family dynamic. In fact, over two in five (42.4%) surveyed believe it’s no longer important for couples to be married before having children, as this does not change a couple’s commitment to each other.

Most interestingly when it comes to looking at the family unit, differing opinions arise on what the ‘perfect’ family size is. Over half (55.4%) of us think that having two children is the perfect size for a family, while nearly a fifth (19.3%) say it’s three. Those of us based in Western Australia have very set ideas on this, with 63.7 per cent thinking two children is the perfect family size and only 16.6 per cent believing it to be three. Clearly, there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ family!

We also have differing opinions on the perfect age to have children. Those of us who have children think 27 is the ideal age to start a family, while the prospective parents among us say we ideally want to begin having children at 31. We are also more accepting of those who decide to be child-free with (79.9%) of us believing this is more accepted in today’s society.

When it comes to deciding to be child-free, the non-parents among us say the impact of children on finances and lifestyle freedom, and overpopulation and future security crises, are key factors that were considered when making the decision.

Tech and the family

Many of us are experiencing the benefits that tech and social media can bring to a family dynamic. Nearly half of us (49.8%) think that social media can help our children gain a global perspective, over a third (37.9%) believe it helps encourage interest in new things, and one in three (33.7%) think it can promote creativity. Tech and social media also keep those of us with geographically distanced families connected (85.7%), and many think tech can promote the importance of connection and caring for others (61.1%).

With tech being a big part of our day-to-day, we’re also seeing how it’s influencing family life. In fact, nearly half of us (47.3%) say tech and social media are having an impact on the family value system. Amongst those of us who think this, we’re most concerned that tech and social media expose our children to negative values that don’t align with those of the family (89.3%) and provide distraction from quality family time together (88.9%).

Streaming services, TV and film (76.4%) are the biggest culprits when it comes to influencing the shift in family values – nearly two thirds of us say they’ve drawn focus away from moral or religious values (62.2%) and manners and respect (60.0%).

The way we think about families and family values has changed a lot, even in the past 10 years. Whilst we agree there are ideas that should be left behind, we also agree that there are traditional values worth holding onto, like unconditional love and spending time together as a family.

To find out more about modern Australians’ opinions on the issues most affecting us, visit our News & Views page. Also, stay tuned for our next chapter of research, coming soon.

Download full research report