Marriage – Children – Unconditional love – Role of women – Transmission of values

Today few households in Europe consist of the traditional male breadwinner, female housekeeper, and several children. Yet as it comes to family values, Europeans come out surprisingly conservative. ‘Married-with-children’ is the preferred lifestyle for an overwhelming majority, despite the liberating sixties, emancipation, and individualization.


Chart Duty of parents, Source: Atlas of European Values

Today, children have become an option. They are no longer inevitability, an economic necessity, a provision for old age or a duty to God. Having children and the actual number of children are a matter of personal and free choice. Also, the ‘image’ of children has shifted. Children have become ‘little angels’, requiring and deserving high investments and intense emotional involvement from their parents. Where the father used to be the center of the family, home has slowly transformed into a child-centered haven. This change is also evident from the European Values Studies.

Europeans believe that parents should do their utmost best for their children, even at the cost of their own well-being. And the prevailing view is that both a father and a mother are necessary for a child in order to grow up happily. Here, individualism meets its limitations: as soon as children are involved, people appear reluctant to adhere to individualistic stances; instead they remain loyal to the traditional family patterns. It seems as if children and in particular their well-being, are becoming an important, if not the most important, issue in the domain of family.


Chart Both a father and a mother, Source: Atlas of European Values


Children to fulfill life, Source: Atlas of European Values