Boys more traditional in view of future family, poll finds

July 11, 1994|By New York Times News Service

A nationwide poll of teen-agers found that boys are substantially more traditional than girls in their expectations of the family life they will have as adults.

The girls surveyed were more likely than the boys to say that they could have a happy life even if they did not get married and that they would consider becoming a single parent. And 86 percent of the girls said they expect to work when they are married, while only 7 percent said they expect to stay home.

Among the boys, 58 percent said they expected their wives to work outside the home and 19 percent said they expected her to stay home.

A majority of the boys surveyed said that most of the boys they knew considered themselves better than girls. But most of the girls surveyed said the girls they knew saw boys as equals.

The telephone poll of 1,055 teen-agers aged 13 to 17 was conducted by the New York Times and CBS News from May 26 to June 1 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In follow-up telephone interviews with teen-agers who had taken part in the survey, the gender differences were pronounced.

Many of the boys said they still believe strongly in a traditional 1950s-style marriage, in which the wife stays home, raises the children, cleans the house and does the cooking, while the husband is responsible for making the money and mowing the lawn.

Seventy-one percent of the teen-agers surveyed had mothers employed outside the home, and 80 percent had fathers employed outside the home. But the belief that a 1950s-style marriage is the natural order seems to have a firm hold, even among many teen-age boys whose mothers work outside the home.

Most of the girls interviewed were adamant about their plans to have a career and an egalitarian marriage. And many of the boys expressed firm convictions that a woman's place was in the home.

"I think a career is the most important thing, then children, then marriage," said Nicole Leesnan, 16, of Atlanta, Ill.

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