Parents’ optimism about kids’ futures on the rise since 2011

Most parents self-identify as The Star Wars character Yoda when it comes to money issues

American parents of children ages 18 and younger are more hopeful about the future of children than they were at the start of the decade, according to a new Ipsos survey sponsored by New York Life.

More than half of parents (54 percent) say children in the United States overall will have a better standard of living than their parents do when they become adults, up from 41 percent in 2011. When asked about their own children, more than two-thirds (67 percent) say their children will have a better standard of living than they do, compared to just over half who said the same thing in 2011 (54 percent).

Parent respondents are also optimistic about their own finances heading into 2018, with 57 percent reporting that their financial situation will improve next year. And two in five (38 percent) will seek professional guidance to manage their finances.

“Despite a growing number of uncertainties in the world around us, parents remain hopeful that the next generation will have it better,” said Brian Madgett, Vice President, New York Life. “Parents report that they plan to address their financial burdens in 2018, reducing debt, saving more and seeking professional help to manage their finances – important steps that bode well for their family’s financial future.”

Even with these upbeat sentiments, one item seems to be looming– almost half (46 percent) expect they will have to increase their responsibility for the care of their own parents in 2018.

“This survey validates what our agents are seeing in homes across the country – more parents find themselves ‘sandwiched,’ responsible for their children and facing a growing responsibility for their parents. Preparing for the implications of the sandwich effect – which may change their financial priorities and derail some of their good 2018 plans will be an important priority for many in the next year,” said Madgett.

Ways to Help Children Succeed

Parents said they find the following practices important to help their children succeed in 2017:

Teaching financial responsibility by giving an allowance, a piggybank, a savings acct, and advice regarding smart spending- 54%

Encouraging your child(ren) to work toward a well-paying career choice- 38%

Putting money aside for college education- 31%

Making sure you have a financial plan to take care of your child in case something happens to you- 29%

Talking openly about your own personal or family finances- 29%

Leaving a financial legacy for child(ren)- 19%

“We applaud parents who are empowering their children with a financial education and at the same time are taking steps, including saving for college and leaving a legacy, to protect the financial future of their children,” added Madgett.

Photo by Morf Morford

Photo by Morf Morford

Yoda – “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

When respondents were asked which Star Wars movie character best reflects how they handle their family finances, the majority selected Yoda, who is described as patient and someone who uses past experiences to guide future decisions. Also critical to Yoda’s persona is teaching the next generation. See chart below for the Star War characters choices and percent who picked these characters.

Courtesy New York Life Insurance Company

Courtesy New York Life Insurance Company

“We believe the choice of Yoda means more parents are understanding the connection between a bright future for children and financial literacy,” said Madgett.

Survey Methodology: These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted December 6 – 11, 2017 on behalf of the New York Life. For the survey, a sample of 1,002 parents (ages 18 and over) from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. To qualify for the survey, respondents had to be the parent/guardian of at least one child under the age of 18 that is currently living in their household. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 3.5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

More info on the survey can be found here:  and here:

- New York Life Insurance Company