Mormon Parenting: Families as the cause — all else as effect

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    March 6, 2014 6:44 a.m.

    We often view cause and effect in a straight linear fashion: a cause leads to an effect. In a number of instances, however, the situation is more dynamic. Think of a spiral. Cause and effect work together in a way that one cause leads to an effect that leads to another cause leading to another effect in an outward, exponential fashion so that circumstances quickly become out of control and resolution of problems extremely difficult. This to me seems to be the case with dysfunctional families.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    March 4, 2014 11:14 p.m.

    Given the number of people worldwide who are barely making it poverty isn't because people aren't working hard enough or making the right choices. I'd say the person digging through the dump was working harder than many wealthy people living enviable lives in the US. Our plans to help often cause hurt instead. And center around our own convenience and not what is desired by those in need. It is more important about how we feel about doing the good deed.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 11:31 a.m.

    Coming at this problem from the standpoint of strengthening families before addressing poverty I think is just as reasonable as the opposite. Like the Eyre's point out, it is difficult if not impossible to parse out which comes first here. In fact, it is likely both at one time or another. I agree that we should do everything we can at a local level to strengthen the family, and at the same time do everything we can to eradicate poverty as well.

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Strong families are great. Yet, individuals have their agency. It is unfair to blame parenting techniques on every ill that some families experience.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    This article reminds me of Elder Ballard's talk in the April 2012 conference, entitled "That the Lost May Be Found."

    Here is a snippet:

    "The real question, of course, is about cause and effect. Do some sectors of our society have stronger values and families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have values and strong families? In this worldwide Church we know that it is the latter. When people make family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well."

    "And, of course, societies at large are strengthened as families grow stronger. Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect. When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase their chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly safety nets are required."

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:57 a.m.

    "Most economists and politicians blame both social ills and family instability on poverty. But what if it is exactly the other way around, and the poverty and instability are the direct results of declining or poorly functioning families?"

    My sense is that the problem is a chicken/egg kind of cause/effect relationship that is so inextricably tied together that influencing one part will have inevitable effects on the other.

    The important thing to remember about the relationship between social ills/family instability and poverty is that simply dumping money on someone who is dysfunctional more often than not simply empowers the dysfunctionality. It not only doesn't help the individual, it often promotes the negative influence of the dysfunctionality.

    The effects of poverty, as defined by some nebulous state of financial insufficiency, can be insidious and profound. But, ironically enough, the most negative effects are almost NEVER solved by merely increasing the money the person has at hand.

    Every human being is best nourished not by money but by people. THAT is why stable, loving, supportive family environments, with or without much money, are the best and perhaps only "cure" for social ills.

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:53 a.m.

    Thank you very much for your words! I can vouch for them in their entirety. I've lived my entire life watching intact families succeed and be joyful, and broken families falter and individuals from them struggle. So far it's been 100% consistent. Everyone I know who's grown in a stable enough family has eventually "grown up" and gone to create a successful and stable life of their own, and everyone I know-every one of mine and my silbings' own friends-who had broken families have gone on to personal ruin to this day.

    It's heartbreaking personally, and it's frustrating to watch and hear about increasing numbers of people facing this problem and struggling in the dark about how to fix it, looking to governmental programs and socialist ideas vainly. They're like sailors with scurvy, and we've got oranges right here!