Comments about ‘In our opinion: Rescuing the family’

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Published: Sunday, Feb. 17 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I fully agree that the decline of families is a major issue negatively impacting poverty rates and the success of children. Many people who voice similar concerns, however, fail to acknowledge the impact of the economic changes that have taken place over the last thirty years.

President Eisenhower once made a speech in which he praised the U.S. capitalist system because it gave an average worker the means to buy a comfortable house, a nice car, and pay for college for his children. He said this was possible because business leaders recognized that a thriving working class was necessary for their own prosperity.

Back then an average high school graduate could get a job that would support a family. Knowing that they could support a family, they went out and started families. That is no longer the case, an average high school graduate today can barely support himself, so starting a family is out of the question.

If our business elites returned to the Eisenhower era mindset that their own ultimate success, and the success of the country, depended on a thriving working class, I'm fairly certain that marriage rates would improve significantly.

bandersen
Saint George, UT

Read Proclamation on the Family by the LDS church. It is similar to the Declaration of Independence in its simplicity and its absolute reliance on 'unalienable rights' and 'self-eveident' truths.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

President Obama spoke eloquently about the need to strengthen families to a crowd in Chicago last week. He noted that all families can play a role, not just those that fit the mould around here.

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

We're going to live by quotes from Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Regan now..what blatant non sense. Yet we believe an off handed remark that the success of children raised by single parents or non traditional families is an outlier..again blatant nonsense.

Just last week I heard an hour long report from a study that clearly showed that parents actually have little effect on the outcome of children. Personally I'm not ready to fully accept that..but again just yesterday my wife and I were talking about a couple whith four children, and the parents are both successful and probably two of the kindest and most committed people we know...and yes devote LDS, yet all of their children struggle..really struggle.

This is far more complicated than "traditional families", and puff pieces like these are not helpful.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

The primary adverse impact on the nuclear family isn't government, or gay marriage or social activists... it's economics.

Families operate within a society kind of like how a child interacts within a family. Young parents were children just a short time ago.

When people see CEOs making massive amounts of money while moving jobs offshore, and figuring out how to not pay benefits, it has a direct impact on not just employee, but societal morale. When both parents have to work, often at odd hours, just to make ends meet, it sets a negative example for the kids, who aspire to a less stressful life.

Like the children in a dysfunctional family are wary to follow their parents' footsteps, many young people today see widespread economic anxiety among adults and conclude marriage and starting a family look like big risks.

If you want to buttress families and having children within them, the economic conditions that facilitate them need to become less apprehensive. Greater "Economic Patriotism" would be like the dad who comes home from work to spend time with his kids and supporting his wife. It would benefit everyone, particularly families and children.

bandersen
Saint George, UT

Unfortunately, many of the comments focus on 'economic' issues, rather than timeless values that transcend 'economic' issues. For example, if highschool graduates used to be able to get a job out of high school to support a family, then the simple answer is to get more education, work harder, and wait longer before getting married. In all cases, waiting until marraige before having a child and being married before that is possibly would be the answer, none of which is acceptable for parents who don't teach and a generation that doesn't know what the word 'wait' means. In all cases, decisions have consequences. Blaming someone else or requiring society to pick up the consequences of poor individual choices is hardly going to make for a better society in the future.

jeanie
orem, UT

Our nation is as strong as our families. As a public school educator, it is so evident to me that children who come from intact families, where the parents love and support each other, most often succeed better than those who come from families in turmoil and dysfunction.

I disagree with some of the posters here that factors other than the social value placed on a family - with a father and a mother, married and raising children - are the biggest hinderence to heathy, thriving families. Our actions indicate what we value and our society has valued the traditional family less and less and promoted variations of "family", or no family, more and more. Economic conditions that make traditional family life less appealing and more difficult to achieve are a symptom of a society that values gain and power for a few more than the support and health of family.

You cannot put the cart before the horse.

KJB1
Eugene, OR

You guys sound just like Bill O'Reilly complaining on election night about how the America you recognize is becoming obsolete. I'm sure that families will survive just fine and children will continue to be raised and bought up, but your insistence that "family" can only be what you define it to be is going to have to change, since the world is changing it for you.

Normal Guy
Salt Lake City, UT

Families determine economics, not the other way around. One of the main reasons our economic woes are at their current level is because 41% of all children are born out of wedlock (2010). Much of that stat is because in the 90's too few of those now having children were told by their parents how important getting married and staying together was. As this article then points out, both sides acknowledge that poverty is the result.

To suggest that the bad economy is creating weaker families entirely gets the cause and effect backwards, though it does show the snowball effect that too little emphasis on families has left us with.

I was fortunate to have parents that encouraged and enabled me to get a college education. As such, I know the business reasons whey CEOs must sometimes outsource overseas, why executive compensation has grown, and yet somehow provided for my own family.

jeanie
orem, UT

So, KJB1 - what kind of family would you suggest will continue to offer children optimal security and support?

Divorce reeks havoc on children, having to split time between parents is difficult for kids and occupies much of their emotional reserves that would otherwise be used in learning and growing.

Unmarried parents teach kids that commitment to others is optional. If it becomes inconvenient for someone there is the option to move on, no matter the cost to children's security.

Single parents have double the work of married parents. Many do their level best (and deserve admiration) but there is still a cost to the emotional and economical security of children.

Step siblings and step parents add a dimension of stress to a child's life, even in the best circumstances.

Imagine that you personally have a father and a mother who love each other. They are both committed to each other and to your welfare, no matter what sacrifice is required of them. Can you think of a more secure situation to grow up in?

As you note, our society is changing. What are you suggesting that would be just as good as a traditional family?

cj2018
KUTZTOWN, PA

Do any of you have any idea how frustrating it has been for me, as a single parent, to have continually had to hear what a failure I or my son would be because I was raising him alone? It was not by choice. His father committed suicide when my son was only two years old; so yes, I worked the extra hours to earn enough money to pay my bills and provide for him. But you need to know that when I wasn't at work, I was with him. I sat through nearly every football, baseball, soccer and basketball practice and game there was. I helped him with his homework. I did without so that he could have more. Despite all the dire warnings, he has graduated college, with a teaching degree and was hired full-time three weeks before graduation. He is kind, gentle and strong.

My parents were married, and they were abusive. I vowed that if I were blessed to have a child, I would do better than they. I refused to become a statistic, and I refused for my son to become one. What constitutes a "good" family? It's love, pure and simple.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

Everyone thinks its a great idea to support families as long as it doesn't lead to higher taxes. The fact is the tax laws make it a financial mistake to get married. The tax exemptions for child dependents has not kept place with inflation. At one time, it was equivalent to what it cost to raise a child for a year. Nobody could raise a child for one month on what the federal and state tax policies now allow. In addition, you actually pay less in taxes by just living together in sin, rather than getting married. But if you try to fix any of this, just watch all those people espousing the virtue of the family head for the exits.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Recommended reading from the NIH: "The Severely-Distressed African American Family in the Crack Era: Empowerment is not Enough"

Poverty and the disinegration of the family occurs in alll demographics but is particularly significant among African American families. The most recent economic crisis has taken a greater toll among African Americans, and African American families also have a more difficult time maintaining and passing to future generations middle-class stability and prosperity. Racism remains a significant force in American society--particularly in our criminal justice system. The U.S. public education system provides an adequate education to middle-class and upper-midddle class families but fails lower income students.

Meckofahess
Salt Lake City, UT

There are two major institutions in American society that have complicated all other aspects of our lives: (1) Our broken and dysfunctional healthcare system that is slowly but surely dragging the economic life out of employers and families so that the healthcare providers can benefit finacially while the poor working class suffer with ill health and/or financial ruin (2) Our educational system is over producing college graduates (strapping them with huge student loans) and there (a) aren't enough jobs that require all these degrees and (b) the jobs don't pay enough for the cost of the education. Govenor Rick Perry of Texas suggested Texas needs to find away for a $10,000.00 Bachelors degree. He is on the right path with that thinking! Until we find a way to overhaul these two greed driven instututions - families and society will suffer even more!

John C. C.
Payson, UT

Don't blame the bad economy. I think families were more stable when America was poor and families were large. Notice that birth rates drop when nations increase their prosperity. People become more self-absorbed and value lasting marriages less.

Is there a way for us to maintain our current prosperity without losing our commitment to traditional families?

KJB1
Eugene, OR

jeanie,

I'm divorced and have sole custody of my daughter. In spite of it all, she's an outgoing and kind-hearted kid who's doing so well in school that she may be skipped ahead a grade next year. There have been challenges, but those come with anybody's life.

"Traditional" families are great; my parents have been married for 42 years and I hope to be again someday. However, the idea that that's inherently better or the "most" anything just hasn't been born out by my life experience. There are good and bad single-parent families and there are good and bad traditional families. Regardless of what the DN seems determined to tell us, there isn't one mold that everyone is meant to fit into.

Contrary to some people's paranoia, Mom-and-Dad families aren't going away anytime soon. There is, however, a growing realization that there are other ways to raise children and be a family without living up to a certain expectation of what "traditional" is supposed to mean. Life is infinitely complex, and realizing and accepting that can't help but be a good thing. In my mind, anyway...

pmccombs
Orem, UT

Um... The "traditional nuclear family" is an invention of the modern age arising simultaneously with industrialization and is, like industrialization, a result of the mature money economy. The nuclear family replaced what the new economy destroyed: the "traditional household family" which had persisted for millenia in most stable civilizations.

What is the traditional household family? It is the old economy. That's where the word economy comes from in the first place: from the household. Before money freed us from depending on each other in important ways, families and communities had to take care of each other. Children were assets instead of liabilities. Houses didn't stand empty most of the day while people were out serving some external economic interests. Everyone in the home was part of the family, which extended beyond the vulnerable "nucleus" of mom, dad, and kids.

The nuclear family is not self-sufficient. It requires its support from outside: education, food, clothing; everything comes from a distance and is paid for with money. Because of this, Nuclear families have a hard time being together. They are intrinsically weak and will ultimately fail. Blame it on poor morals, I guess.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

I think the problem is that there are a lot of people who look upon "non-traditional" families with scorn. How is insulting my parents (who divorced) supposed to help anything? We know what works better on average, you don't need to try and humiliate people for say... being a single mother (especially when you should be happy she chose life instead of abortion).

ronbyusmith
West Jordan, UT

The issue is not one of economics--does it make sense financially or not to marry and have children. The issue is not one of superiority--whether a traditional family is superior to circumstances that many have to deal with, have dealt with, beyond their control. The issue is not one that is questioning the value and strength of individuals that rise above their challenges--whether that be a child being raised by a single parent or a divorced or widowed mother or father sacrificing every ounce of available energy, and then some, to raise children. The issue is not one where a mother must stay with the father of her children even when it is to their peril. The issue is not suggesting that the traditional family prevents all problems and difficulties as this is simply not the case. The issue is one of the revealed will of a loving Father in Heaven who has given us direction to guide us toward happiness both now and throughout eternity--a suite of tools, as it where, to maximize the results of our efforts. One final note--grandparents are an indispensable element in this quest for happiness and fulfillment.

ParkCityAggie
Park City, Ut

We need every family we can get. We start prescribing our personal biases/beliefs and we do nothing but alienate and divide. Different strokes for different folks! Every "dispensation" looks down at the other. Remember darn kids and their rock and roll music/Punk music/rap music (name ANY genres of music that isn't of your generation here____)? Lets not be like some grumpy old people waving canes because we can't understand them darn kids.

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