Mothers are more influential in shaping the lives of everyday Australians than fathers, spouses or partners, siblings, and even best friends.

A McCrindle study confirms that mothers don’t just raise their children, but shape their identities and define who they become.

Mum is most influential role model for more than half of Australians

More than half of Australians (52%) say that their mother is the single biggest influence on shaping where they come from and who they are today, and 4 in 5 (79%) put their mum in their personal Top 3 Most Influential Persons list.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle says, “Their role is not just in raising us but in shaping us. The impact of mums in Australia is highlighted by the fact that they are the most significant person in shaping who we have become – ahead of friends, community leaders, other family members and even spouses. While mothers are often thanked for their protecting and providing role in the lives of young children, it is their life-training and identity-shaping that has the most lasting impact.”

“This research shows that mothers are not only nurturers and supporters but for the majority of Australians, they are also the biggest life-shapers.”

Mum influential not just for women, but men, too

While 56% of women said their mum had had the biggest influence on their lives, men weren’t far behind – 1 in 2 men (48%) state their mum had the largest influence on their lives, and 4 in 5 (79%) of men put mum in their Top 3 Most Influential Persons list – the same as females!

Mother, then father, then a spouse or partner

For many Australians, if they were to choose the Top 3 influencers in shaping who they have become, they would list their mother, their father, and their spouse or partner – in that order.

Mum’s impact just as strong for emerging generations

Despite the proliferation of technology that has facilitated opportunities for influence by those beyond immediate family and friendship structures, younger generations report being even more shaped by their mothers than older generations – 52% of Gen Ys (20-34) and 54% of Gen X (35-49) report their mother as their biggest influencer, compared to 50% of Baby Boomers (50-68) and Builders (69+).

Mark McCrindle states, “In a world of social media, technology influences and marketing saturation, it is encouraging to see that the influence of mums has gone up, not down with the emerging generations. In fact with children staying at home later in life than the past, the role of mums is not only greater, but their influence extends longer as well.”

Results based on a nationally representative survey of 1,019 responses conducted by McCrindle in April 2014.

Download the research summary