Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 13, 2004
The traditional family still the ideal, survey shows
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The ideal family is still the traditional model, characterized by a married mother and father with one or more children, says a new survey by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby.
The Future Families Project: A Survey of Canadian Hopes and Dreams in 2003, produced for the Vanier Institute of the Family, shows that 58 per cent of Canadians recognize the traditional family as the ideal, including 21 per cent of gays and lesbians.
"Along the way, the notion of the 'perfect family with two parents and 2.5 children' has been more than occasionally maligned and dismissed as antiquated," Bibby says in a chapter summary. "The survey points to a very different conclusion."
"Although different family forms are acknowledged and accepted, very few people indicate that common-law relationships or single parenthood represent ideal family relationships," Bibby says.
The survey shows that 52 per cent of younger people - aged 18-34 - say there is no ideal family structure.
However, 90 per cent of the youthful respondents say they "plan to marry, have children, and stay with the same partner for the rest of their lives," says a Dec. 6 Vanier Institute news release summarizing the findings.
Of those who attend religious services weekly, 78 per cent see the traditional family as ideal, the survey says.
Across the country, those in the Prairies showed the most support at 67 per cent, Atlantic Canada 63 per cent, Ontario 60 per cent and Quebec 56 per cent. Only in British Columbia did a minority of 47 per cent support the ideal.
The survey asked the 2,100 Canadians who participated whether they agreed with a statement made by former Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1967 that "the strengthening of family life in Canada is the basis on which our nation's moral strength and vitality depend."
In response, 46 per cent strongly agreed, while another 48 per cent agreed. Only six per cent disagreed, and fewer than one per cent strongly disagreed.
Reality, however, does not match up with the ideal, the survey shows. Divorce or separation had been experienced by 19 per cent of those surveyed and the number rises to 25 per cent for those aged 35 to 55.
The study also combats preconceived notions about the effect of the 1960s "sexual revolution" liberalizing attitudes towards pre-marital sex.
While the study shows 90 per cent accept pre-marital sex, and 65 per cent approve of it, that number drops to 55 per cent when respondents are asked if they approve of their own children engaging in the behaviour.
When it comes to extramarital sex, less than five per cent approve. Seventy per cent of Canadians both disapprove of and would not accept sex with someone other than one's spouse - a number the Vanier Institute says is unchanged since the 1970s.
"The sexual revolution clearly did not extend to endorsing or legitimizing extramarital sex," the news release says. "Further, only about one in three Canadians currently express both approval and acceptance of homosexual acts, while 40 per cent say they neither approve of nor are willing to accept such behaviour."
"Although more than two-thirds of our respondents would be willing to accept that their child was gay, only one of every four parents would approve."
The survey showed that slightly fewer than 50 per cent of Canadians support same sex marriage, while slightly more than 50 per cent support giving same-sex families the same benefits as opposite sex families receive. The text of the survey is available from the Vanier Institute of the Family's web site at www.vifamily.ca.
"The strengthening of family life in Canada is the basis on which our nation's moral strength and vitality depend."
- former Prime Minister Lester Pearson
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