Moms on the Future

As a nation, we are quickly approaching Election Day and therefore thinking about change.  With thoughts of change come questions about the future and what it will bring, especially for our children.  With recent current events and a particularly harsh political cycle, we are reminded of the turbulent and scary world we live in. However, despite the negative headlines moms’ outlook for the future is surprisingly bright.

According to “Moms on the Future,” a new study from The Research Moms at Edison Research, 77% of moms have a positive outlook about the future world their children will live in. They don’t view the world as harshly as one would expect. In fact, moms are optimists, believing that good things are to come. Most moms surveyed, 60%, believe their children will have a better adult life than they have themselves.  Furthermore, more than 4 in 5 moms believe their children will have a fair opportunity to achieve the life they hope for.

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Not only do they see their children as having the opportunity, but moms also believe their children will be prepared to make a mark on the world.  The education, skills and experience needed for success will be with their children, according to almost all moms surveyed.

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While moms show their optimistic side, believing in promise and opportunity, they do not have their heads in the clouds.  Moms are futurists and because they have to, they are always thinking about what’s coming next.  They watch and predict where their children will succeed and where they may stumble.  Moms see the future realistically and they acknowledge that life will continue to be challenging, especially when addressing the economics of education.

A college education for their children is highly valued.  The vast majority, 83% of moms said it is important that their children pursue a college education.  Among the moms in the sample who had a college education themselves, the value is even greater, with 90% saying it is important.

As important as it is to them, the cost of higher education does not go unnoticed by moms.  Not only do 82% of moms fear not having enough money to afford college for their children, nearly 40% said they fear this a lot.  The big price tag is daunting for moms and many have already begun saving.  Just under 60% of moms have money specifically saved for their children’s college education.

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Moms are usually their children’s biggest fan but when it comes to taking care of herself, mom is not quite the same cheerleader.  Raising children is not an easy job and they have many needs that take precedence over a mom’s.   As altruists, moms put the needs of their loved ones before their own.  This is evidenced in how moms actually plan for their own future. Fewer than 2 in 5 moms have a last will and testament, while about only half have a guardianship plan in place.  Looking at it from the reverse, that means half of moms don’t have a plan in place for someone to care for their children if they are no longer able.

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Less than one-third of moms surveyed are on pace to retire as they hope.  Moms who are 45-64 years old index even lower, with only 24% of them saying they are on pace.  A number of factors could contribute to this, such as having college age kids, which means more savings for college and less for retirement.  It could also be that this age group is closer to the actual age of retirement and they are more conscious of being behind pace.  No matter the reason, it isn’t surprising that most moms don’t feel on pace to retire because of the high costs of raising a family.

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The fact that they aren’t on pace for retirement is on the radar for moms, with 86% of moms saying they fear not having enough money saved for retirement.  Digging deeper we see 41% of moms actually fear this a lot.  This illustrates a classic example of having the want and the need but not necessarily the means.  Moms want to be able to save as much as they can but with so many other expenses, the retirement fund gets pushed to the back burner.

Looking closely at how moms view the future for themselves and their children, the themes of optimism, futurism and altruism are apparent.  Mom the optimist is the believer in her children, the biggest fan who sees promise.  Mom the futurist is watching her children for any missteps yet all the while preparing for future greatness.  Mom the altruist is at every practice and competition sacrificing her own time and needs.

Messages to moms should appeal to their optimistic side and let them believe in the good that is to come instead of pointing out the everyday chaos that they are all too aware of.  To play to moms’ futurist role, acknowledge the work efforts that are put in for their children’s future:  the planning, the saving and the encouragement.  Finally, for mom as the altruist, give tools and reminders to allow her to prioritize her health, retirement and happiness.

Click here for the full Moms on the Future report (PDF).

Click here to view the full animated presentation in CustomShow.

About the study:

The Research Moms conducted a national online survey of 520 mothers who were age 18-64 and had children age 21 or younger.

About the Research Moms

The Research Moms are Edison Research’s team of experienced researchers who also happen to be moms.  Combining a solid platform of market research with real life insight, they are a unique resource for analyzing habits, behaviors and trends among moms.

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