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PARENTS TODAY STRESS BEING WITH CHILDREN MORE THAN THEY SAY THEIR PARENTS DID

 SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's parents are placing more emphasis on emotional connections with their children, but are placing less emphasis on discipline and household chores than their own parents did, according to a national study released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.
 In a telephone survey of 1,050 adults, Americans say their families today place most importance on showing respect for parents (86 percent), celebrating and recognizing achievements of family members (86 percent), and giving a kiss or a hug when leaving or returning to the home (76 percent).
 Most striking, however, was the change American adults reported between what was stressed in their own childhoods and in their families today. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of Americans believe "giving a kiss or a hug when leaving or returning to the home" is important in their family today -- while barely more than half (52 percent) said this was important in their family when they were children.
 When asked about their childhoods, Americans say, "disciplining you when you did something wrong" and "having household chores" were ranked among the top four things that were important in their families, rating 76 percent and 75 percent, respectively. Today's families are putting less stress on these activities -- 69 percent said discipline is important today and 64 percent said household chores are stressed.
 Today's Americans place more emphasis on celebrating or recognizing a family member's achievements -- 86 percent said this is important to their family today, while 65 percent said it was important when they were children. Today's family also puts more emphasis on homework: 70 percent said it is important to help children with homework now, while 54 percent said this was stressed in their families when they were young.
 Americans also are more focused on sharing routine activities together in their family life. There was a 24 percentage point difference in the importance of attitudes about "reading books to children" between yesterday and today -- 42 percent said it was important in their family when they were children, while 66 percent said it is important in their family today. They also think it is more important to take vacations together (up 15 points from their childhoods), sit and talk at the dinner table (up 11 points) and playing sports or games together (up 14 points).
 Parental Leadership Required
 The decline in discipline and chores supports concerns raised by a group of family experts assembled by MassMutual as part of their American Family Values program. These experts say that in order to more effectively transmit family values, today's parents need to show greater leadership within their families. They continually stressed that children learn responsibility by being responsible and by being held accountable for their actions.
 "Many parents today want to be their child's friend more than they want to provide the firm guidance that is sometimes required," said Dr. Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok. "The wish to provide a perfect, carefree childhood is, in fact, counterproductive. The growth in emphasis on emotional support in American families is very heartening; the next step is for parents to feel more comfortable as leaders and as limit-setters when necessary with their children."
 The MassMutual American Family Values program, now in its fourth year, has sponsored four sets of research and relied on the insight and perspective of more than 20 family experts in identifying what family values are and how they are taught. As part of the program, MassMutual is offering a booklet to parents that offers guidance on how every family can strengthen its ability to teach family values. The booklet, which is accompanied by a refrigerator magnet designed to hold a family photograph, is available free of charge by writing to:
 MassMutual American Family Values Program
 P.O. Box. 19854
 St. Louis, MO 63144
 With $29.6 billion in assets, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company is the country's 12th largest life insurance company and among the nation's 100 largest businesses. Established in 1851, the company provides financial products and services for 2 million families and business. Consistent with its role as a provider of financial protection for families, MassMutual has been a pioneer in researching America's family values since 1988. The MassMutual American Family Values program incorporates national public opinion studies, professional and expert focus groups and the guidance of family researchers and academicians in seeking to identify and support America's family values.
 -0- 1/4/93
 /CONTACT: Joe Mondy of MassMutual, 413-744-2365, or Cindy Carpenter or Peter Verrengia of Fleishman-Hillard, 212-265-9150, for MassMutual/


CO: Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company ST: Massachusetts IN: INS SU:

SM -- NYFFNS1 -- 1122 01/04/93 07:01 EST
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