In our Are We There Yet?: Today’s Parents, Tomorrow’s Kids project, we looked at what family life around the world today can tell us about tomorrow. We learned that kids come first in today’s families, that parenting is a balancing act rife with hard-to-resolve tensions, and that parenting has become more fluid and flexible than in the past.

We found three key takeaways from this research that encompass what kids and families are like today, what we predict they’ll look like tomorrow, and what brands and content can start doing now to connect with them more effectively:

Kids Come First

Now. Family life today revolves around kids, who are central in their parents’ lives. Parent-child bonds are closer than in the past – warmer, stronger, and more empathetic. Parents are listening to their kids and showing them more love.

Next. As today’s kids grow up, we predict they will be open with their feelings, expect their opinions to be valued, and feel unafraid to make their voices heard.

Implications. In their communications, brands don’t have to focus on parents or children exclusively – they can tap into both at the same time. In content, there is a similar appetite for material that families can enjoy together. We recommend supporting conversations that encourage a shared understanding of key issues, from mental health to gender identity. And lastly, brands and content have the power to amplify kids’ voices.

Try Your Best

Now. Kids are being raised by parents who work hard to give them the best possible start in life. Today’s parents are more actively involved in parenting than their own parents were. They’re also balancing many complex tensions while encouraging their kids’ aspirations.

Next. As kids grow up, we expect them to follow the positive examples set by their parents – and to try to improve upon previous generations. They will feel empowered to take action, follow their dreams, and stand together for what they believe.

Implications. It’s essential to start planning now to meet the needs of this next generation. They will be different, powerful, and influential. Businesses must learn their values and evolve to reflect them. Secondly, brands and content should appeal to kids’ aspirations by inspiring them and creating new ways to help them follow their dreams. Thirdly, we see opportunity in tapping into the tensions that exist for today’s parents and kids – and providing reassurance. And finally, in brand communications as well as content, parents are often either absent or portrayed as clueless. To reflect the reality of family relationships today, parents should be celebrated and depicted in a more “real” way.

Let’s Get Real

Now. Kids around the world have parents with a lot in common – but in the media, portrayals of parents are often simplistic and not reflective of real life. Today’s parents are not shying away from reality. They’re getting real with their kids about the ups and downs of life, and want kids to be aware of the consequences of their actions.

Next. As this generation of kids grows up, they’ll continue to be exposed to the real world and surrounded by information. As a result, we believe they will expect the truth and value authenticity.

Implications. Global brands should develop products and content that appeal to families and kids all over the world – people in different countries have more similarities than differences. Brands and content should also reflect an unvarnished view of life in today’s families. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time! Beyond that, there is a chance to tap into kids’ natural curiosity, encouraging them to dig deeper into content, such as through interactive content of behind-the-scenes views. And finally, we see an opportunity to help families understand and navigate the real world, meeting the challenges that arise as kids grow.