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It is a widely accepted fact that children are most critical of their parents during their teenage years. Yet oddly enough, the latest American Demographics survey, of 519 teens conducted in advance of Mother's Day, found that the majority of young people have nothing but compliments for Mommy Dearest. When asked to assign a letter grade to their mom — or primary female guardian — for the variety of tasks she performs, 96 percent of teens say that they'd give their moms either an A (67 percent) or a B (29 percent) overall.

The nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-olds, conducted exclusively for American Demographics by Greenwich, Conn.-based market research firm NFO WorldGroup, found that of all the things that mom does, kids agree she is best at showing them that they are loved. Eighty percent of teenagers say their mother deserves an A for showing them how much she cares. An overwhelming majority of teens also give mom the highest grade for taking care of them when they're sick (79 percent), providing financial support (71 percent), cleaning the house (64 percent) and supporting their interests (64 percent).

Most teenagers do say, however, that their mother is less than perfect when it comes to spending enough time with them and being fair. Fewer than half (44 percent and 39 percent, respectively) of all teenagers give their moms an A in these two areas. (For the complete report card, see chart.)

The survey also uncovered that there are quite a few mama's boys out there. Whether or not moms actually treat their sons better than their daughters, teenage boys are significantly more likely than girls to give their mom an A overall (71 percent versus 64 percent). Boys are also more appreciative of her cleaning and laundry skills (68 percent of boys give mom an A, compared with 61 percent of girls), her support of their interests (69 percent versus 59 percent) and her ability to be fair (44 percent versus 34 percent).

Of course, as teens go through their rebellious pubescent years, they often become less complimentary. Kids who are 12 and 13 years old are significantly more likely than older teens to say their mother does an excellent job cooking, cleaning, talking to them about their problems and taking care of them when they're sick.

Still, no matter how good or bad the report card, the vast majority of teenagers plan to honor their moms, and the other important women in their lives, this Mother's Day. Fully 95 percent of teens will recognize their biological mother this month, 59 percent will honor their grandmother, 19 percent will thank an aunt and 7 percent will acknowledge a stepmom. Perhaps because black, Hispanic and Asian households tend to be larger and often multigenerational, teens in these groups are significantly more likely than white teens to recognize someone other than their mother or stepmother. For instance, 32 percent of nonwhite teens say they will honor an aunt on Mother's Day, compared with only 15 percent of whites.

While finding ways to say thanks to the women in their lives will certainly cost kids some of their hard-earned allowance, it's not likely the upcoming holiday will break their piggy banks. Almost three-quarters of all teens (73 percent) say they will use their own money to buy cards or gifts this Mother's Day, but they'll fork over an average of just $16.29 each. Older teens (16- and 17-year-olds) will cough up a little more — $19.52, on average — while youngsters (12- and 13-year-olds) will spend just $12.62.

As little as teens intend to spend on mom, however, dad should expect even less when his holiday rolls around next month. When asked which parent deserves the most thanks for all that they do, 44 percent of teens said “Mom,� 50 percent said “both parents are equally deserving� and only 4 percent said “Dad.� Suffering through nine months of pregnancy apparently does count for something.

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While they may not always show it, teenagers do realize that mom's job is tough. Just 5 percent of girls, and 4 percent of boys, think that “being a mom is easy.�


There's no way I could do it.

She does so much, I could never do all that she does.
58% 39%
I might be able to do it.

There would be a few challenges, but I'm up to the task.
39% 56%
I could totally do it. Being a mom is easy. 4% 5%
Source: American Demographics/NFO WorldGroup


Eighty percent of teens say their mother deserves an A for showing them that she loves them, but when it comes to fixing things around the house, more than a third (36 percent) give her a grade of C or worse.

Shows she loves me 80% 15% 5%
Takes care of me when I'm sick 79% 16% 5%
Supports me financially 71% 18% 11%
Cleans and does laundry 64% 22% 14%
Supports my interests 64% 27% 9%
Gives me presents 58% 32% 10%
Talks to me about my problems 57% 30% 13%
Teaches me things 56% 36% 8%
Cooks 54% 28% 18%
Spends enough time with me 44% 41% 15%
Is fair 39% 43% 18%
Fixes things around the house 34% 31% 36%
OVERALL 67% 29% 4%
Source: American Demographics/NFO WorldGroup
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