Nearly all parents with adult children have saved childhood photos or art

Jamie BallardData Journalist
June 27, 2024, 5:40 PM GMT+0

Many American adults have found when visiting their parents that they are still saving boxes of their childhood memorabilia such as artwork, report cards, and birthday cards. A new YouGov survey asked parents of adult children which of their children’s mementos they’re hanging onto, and whether they wish they had more or fewer of these types of items. Nearly all parents of adult children have at least one memento from their children’s youth, and one-third wish they had saved even more.

Among the 35% of Americans who are parents of children who are at least 18 years old, nearly all (95%) have pictures of their child when they were young. Majorities of parents of adult children also have held onto their children’s art (74%), awards or certificates (70%), report cards (57%), and cards or letters they received (55%), as well as videos of them as a child (57%). (For parents of more than one adult child, the survey did not specify which one to answer about, and it didn't specify whether the adult children are alive today.)

Other mementos are less commonly kept. 48% of parents with adult children still have their child’s yearbook; 49% say they do not have this. 46% have a print or cast of their child’s handprints or footprints while 47% do not. Fewer than half have each of the following from their adult children's youth: toys (45%), a lock of their hair (35%), baby clothes (35%), or baby teeth (29%).

A similar YouGov survey conducted in April in the UK yielded similar results: 96% of British parents whose children are all adults say they still have photos from when their children were young. 67% of parents of children who are all adults still have their children’s report cards, 66% still have pictures or paintings their children made, and 56% have videos of them as a child.

In the U.S., hardly any parents of adult children say they wish they kept less (6%) of their children’s memorabilia. 35% say they wish they had kept more from their children’s childhood, and 49% think they kept about the same amount as they wish they had kept. 9% are not sure.

Parents who are divorced are more likely than parents who are married to say they wish they had kept more of their adult children’s mementos (50% vs. 30%).

A 2023 YouGov survey found that most Americans at least sometimes keep memorabilia of their own past achievements, such as trophies or certificates. Most (57%) Americans say they feel happy when they view memorabilia of their past accomplishments.

— Taylor Orth, Matthew Smith, and Carl Bialik contributed to this article


See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This YouGov poll was conducted online on May 3 - 6, 2024 among 1,162 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample in each survey is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty (catscandotcom)

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