Last week, the Deseret News ran a wonderful editorial asking “Are family values outdated?”
The editorial referred to the New York Times' "Room for Debate" forum, which provocatively asked a panel of scholars, policy experts and activists whether the "ideal of heterosexual, monogamous, married couples who have children in a nuclear family" is still a worthy ideal for public policy given that "this model is not the reality for a growing number of Americans.”
The Deseret News, as you would assume, got to the key point that traditional families with a mom and a dad produce better outcomes for kids. We, of course, agree that the traditional family is still the ideal.
But let us take a whole other angle on the subject and question the very assumption by the New York Times that “family values” only exist in one type of family and the implication that they are becoming obsolete and outdated.
“Family values” has become a very loaded and politicized term. And that is too bad, because family values are in fact the one thing that is still largely uniting within a more and more divided America.
As we crisscross the world speaking and giving presentations to parents of all faiths and all economic levels and political persuasions, we are so gratified to note that when it comes to their hopes and dreams for their kids, they are remarkably unified and similar.
In other words, the commonality they have by being parents cuts across and supersedes all the other differences they might have. One father in Indonesia said, “The best definition I know of a conservative is a liberal with a teenaged daughter.”
So the answer to the question “Are family values obsolete” is ON THE CONTRARY!
Family values are stronger in many ways in this otherwise increasingly divided world than they have ever been.
It used to be (a decade or two ago) that when we were invited to speak at a big corporate or association conference, our presentation on parenting was billed as a “spouse event” — something that the wives and moms might want to attend while their husbands were in a business or investment session.
No more! The parenting and family and relationship topics are now the keynotes that everyone attends. “Parenting” has never been a hotter or more prominent subject. And the core of parenting, let’s face it, is family values.
Years ago when we were writing what would become our N.Y. Times No. 1 best-seller "Teaching Your Children Values," we worried if we could really come up with universal family values — values that all parents everywhere would agree with and support and want to do better with.
We worried that critics might say “Wait a minute, whose values?”
But we went ahead and laid out 12 values, one for each month of the year, and the book jumped onto the best-seller lists. Guess how many letters or emails we have had complaining about the values we chose or saying “those are not the values I want to teach my children."
Zero! Not one.
We’ve had plenty of emails taking issue with a method or with various other things we say in the book, but no one saying, “Well, I don’t want that value for my kids.”
So guess what? Not only are family values not obsolete, they are growing stronger and parents are paying more attention to them and trying harder than ever before to teach them.
Not all parents, of course, because that would be a perfect world. But when it comes to all of us wanting similar values for our kids, and being willing to actually try to teach them, family values are the opposite of obsolete.
So however pessimistic or discouraged we may feel with the state of the world, let’s remember that family values are alive and well.