Linda & Richard Eyre: Basic assumptions now under fire

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  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    Humans discount the future (we don't consider where things will be in the future). The decline in the importance of family would reduce even further our need to consider the future (there may be a link). That would help explain how we could be 16.7 trillion of dollars in debt (our government debt) without much noticing, and seemingly unconcerned about our projected continuous deficits.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 10:56 p.m.

    the only person I see even coming close to doing what you claim is cats and they are complaining because they think the gay community is attacking "traditional marriage." I do see a lot of people talking about shifts in population due to changes in how people make their living which effects were and how we live, maybe you would care to actually address these points rather then your straw man.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Aug. 26, 2014 1:05 p.m.

    Some countries have an aging population and some have a youth population, with most the population under 30. What in the world does that have to the with an attack on the family? Where is the attack on the family? Are people in the US not allowed to be single, marry, have children, not have children, raise their child, care for their parents until natural death, give birth to any child conceived? The only sign of an attack on the family is how fathers are losing their rights to raise their children when church and state decide to let a mom place a baby with another family without his knowledge or consent. It's a loss for the child and the dad.

  • Brian Moody colorado springs, CO
    Aug. 26, 2014 6:46 a.m.

    Population control is a naturally occurring phenomenon in most nations. The more prosperous a nation becomes, the smaller the family size decreases to, due to a family's opportunity to earn more money and enjoy other pleasures of life. Overpopulation is a boogeyman and a distraction from the real problem being faced which is a nation's inability to maintain its population level, as described in this article.

  • dr.bridell mclean, VA
    Aug. 26, 2014 6:38 a.m.

    I think some readers have forgotten that this article is an excerpt from a book called The Turning. I have the book (published today) and it does indeed talk about solutions and positives. The first half of the book is about the problem (the Turning Away) and the second half is about the answers--it is called Turning Back (toward family.) Anything but negative, I find the Eyre's logical in first trying to help understand the problem and the decline of families (and they pretty well prove their point with statistics and trends) and then talking about the how-tos of solving the problem.

  • 1Reader Sunnyvale, CA
    Aug. 25, 2014 11:58 p.m.

    My goodness: so a bevy of gay marriage advocates here have made this discussion on the decline in marriage and birth rates and their impacts into an assault on gays. Not the case; that's not what this article described. Indeed, the traditional family (a married man and woman with kids) is waning, its impacts will be massive, and very few people raise this important topic. The roar about gay marriage is, as an ancillary, so loud that we aren't addressing other important considerations relative to profound family and cultural shifts. We would all greatly benefit from ceasing to call names and impugn, and focus on (unbiased) facts.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 11:40 p.m.


    Just because this message didn't help you doesn't mean it didn't help me. I didn't find it negative and it relates to my life even if it doesn't to yours. It's perfectly okay if it doesn't.

    When I was a teenager who wasn't as mature and knowledgeable about what is true and what isn't, I thought a teacher was being negative to me. When in fact, they were trying to help me and I simply wouldn't listen. Even imperfect people trying to help may be saying something that's true. But if you aren't ready to hear it, or if it's primarily a message to someone else... then we need to remember to move on without the criticism.

    That advise has helped me. I hope it can help you.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 11:21 p.m.

    "A generation ago, no one would have questioned the premise that the family is the basic unit of society. Today, it is questioned from many sides."

    This is a false statement. People want family life now more than ever. Almost all of us know life is intolerable with existence inside of a family. That's one the reasons gays and lesbians want it so badly.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Aug. 25, 2014 10:57 p.m.

    What misdirected, misfocused nonsense!

    In 1950, the world population was 2.5 billion souls. In 2050, even at the present declining rate of growth, population projections show there'll be nearly 9.5 billion. Human reproduction is apparently in no danger as long as we don't wipe ourselves out due to overcrowding or some nuclear-tipped holy war.

    Even if we wanted to return to a pre-industrial, agrarian economy based on individual family 10-acre intensive-manual-labor farming, we'd lose much more than we'd gain. While going back to preindustrial times would solve much of the global warming problem, it would also mean poverty and starvation for many, and shorter lifespans for all. Which is actually good, because unless one generation dies off, there won't be room for the next on that 10-acre family farm.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 10:12 p.m.

    I did think they mentioned some solutions such as bonuses and tax breaks to couples for having children. The USA does this with tax deductions but countries like Russia are upping the game a bit with direct cash.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:57 p.m.

    This sounds more a book declaring the problem of population implosion. Which is real. But that isn't about family it's about population and maybe immigration.

    The government's role is to make sure people can chose what they like. Have the infrastructure to support a country with a lot of people under 30 or a lot of people over 30. Making sure people can afford to live to live to 90, making sure people can afford to have children. When countries encourage few or several children the state ends up with a massive number of children wards of the state. Like Russia and China. Even their encouragements change every generation. The eyre's want everyone to marry and have several kids. They married and had several kids.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    Aug. 25, 2014 5:54 p.m.

    @Cats wrote: "The traditional family structure is the ONLY thing that will hold society together."

    Especially when you're busy trying to exclude non-traditional families from society.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 5:36 p.m.

    "EVERYONE is attacking the traditional family! "

    I graduated from high school almost 10 years ago. A decent number of my friends have married and have children. I've never seen a single person attack someone for marrying. I've never seen a single person attack someone for having a child in wedlock. Nobody is attacking the traditional family just like nobody is attacking traditional marriage. Refusing to attack people for having a different living situation is not an attack on traditional families.

  • BioPowertrain Detroit, MI
    Aug. 25, 2014 5:13 p.m.

    Do the Eyre's e-v-e-r have something positive to say about the way things are? Even a good ol' Dickens "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" would satisfy me. Or will it always be about how bad everyone else is in these the last days? I am a little tired of their incessant message that the sky is falling.

    How about a 100%-positive article about the courage of single parents, or maybe those who soldier on as parents despite physical or mental disabilities? How about getting real and acknowledging that raising kids is about constant correction and instruction up to 50x per day or more? How about teaching relationship skills in your articles rather than incessantly running the rest of the world down? Or maybe even something about the Atonement of Christ rescuing people from their mistakes, or the fact that the Lord set life up like it is on purpose, and we're all in a great big learning experience together?

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    Dear Schnee:

    EVERYONE is attacking the traditional family! It is under attack from all quarters, from all sides, from everywhere. And there are even some who try to pretend that a new redefinition and made up version of a family is somehow just as legitimate. The traditional family has become so degraded in society that society is almost on the verge of collapse. Truth is truth no matter how much we pretend otherwise.

    There are none so blind as those who will see.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    Once again, I have trouble with the credibility of the over-the-top claims of the Eyres. It sounds like mere hyperbole and strident preaching.

    The claim is that "Basic assumptions about the family are UNDER FIRE".

    By whom? Who is "firing" at assumptions about family? Who is "attacking" families, or the concept of families?


    Same sex couples want to get married to one another to strengthen their families. There are no shots being fired from them.

    That "childlessness, singleness or one-child families [are] increasingly prominent" is a societal shift, but who is "firing" at families? They don't say.

    That some Taiwanese women under 50 said they did not want children, means what? Who is attacking families there?

    "Libertarian-Libertine Assault on the American Dream"? What? Every Libertarian I know (and I know quite a few) believes people should be left to have a family (or not) as they please. How is that "attacking" families? Why blame Libertarians for "assaulting" the American Dream/Families? Aren't those who are trying to deny marriage equality the ones who are really "assaulting" families?

    The double-speak, hyperbole, and nonsense in this article is just too much.

  • Pursuit_of_Knowledge SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 3:12 p.m.

    The Eyres are spot on. The family is the cornerstone of modern society. They should join in pushing for legal gay marriages and gay adoptions to help create more stable families. Denying homosexuals the right to marry and adopt limits their ability to create legal, two parent families.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    " Since the traditional family is under attack relentlessly"

    My parents divorced which I suppose sometimes made things... difficult. However, attacking my family and deeming it substandard does nothing to help anybody. Nobody is attacking the traditional family, we just think that we should be trying to seek the best outcomes for all families regardless of whether there are stepparents, single parent, raised by grandparents, cohabiting, married (straight or gay), adopted, whatever. You're not going to unborn the child that is being raised by a single mother, so instead of just criticizing a single mother who when given a choice chose life, why not do something constructive rather than destructive? That's all we're saying.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 2:41 p.m.

    The traditional family structure is the ONLY thing that will hold society together. No redefinitions or denial of this fact will work. I can't believe how many people think they can rationalize this basic fact. Since the traditional family is under attack relentlessly, it is quite clear that we are in jeopardy of going over the cliff.

    I hope the Savior comes soon.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    Here's a question: does the decline of the family cause economic distress or does the decline of the economy cause familial distress and dissolution. One can argue both sides of this. But consider that the golden age of the American family was the 30 - 35 years following WWII when blue collar jobs (well paid) were plentiful and higher education was a bargain.

    The American family began its decay with stagnant wages, higher education costs, capital flight, and the the top heavy wealth distribution of the present. I believe the distress of the family is due to the decay of capitalism.

    Of course the Eyres being true blue LDS emphasize individual responsibility at the expense of seeing stress from the system.

  • JustGordon Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 2:26 p.m.

    The Eyre's opening thesis that the family, the basic unit of society, is under question is false. Society is not questioning that the family is the basic unit of society, society is questioning that family can only be defined as one man and one woman as the Eyre's allege.

    There are many societies that are matriarchal, where men play little role in the family. Yet these families are strong. In the United States, the rise of successful single mother and father "families" and "families" who have same sex parents, all underscore that the world does not have to fear this evolution. Numerous studies have indicated that children with same sex parents far as well as those who have opposite sex parents and study from Australia indicates children from same sex families may indeed be happier and healthier.

    Eyre's spread fear and misinformation by cherry picking their social security numbers, ignoring the fact that most seniors are on social security and medicare and thus get a disproportionate amount of Federal money. Ignored, is the fact that after baby boomers die, the number of aged Americans will decrease significantly.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 12:08 p.m.

    @Light and Liberty
    "Obviously a little crowded"

    Bit of an understatement there since a bed is around 10sq ft.

    "Upwards of thousand billion has been estimated by credible scientists, including a minimum of at least 80 billion."

    I'm sure the drought going on in California would be just fantastic with 10x as many people there...why do we always complain in Utah when Colorado and Nevada want more water from our rivers if there's 'plenty and to spare', when Utah hasn't 10x'd their population yet? An India with 10 billion people... a southeast asia with 30 billion people between India China Pakistan Indonesia and the others... WWIII would occur over water.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 25, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    My take away from this article is: declining birthrates is a first world problem. But in the third-world our NGOs preach that educating women is a good thing and in the same breath cite that a literate woman is less likely to have large familys than their Illiterate Third world woman peers.

    Some other government programs addressing this declining birth-rate issue are just wrong headed. For example, in the Old Soviet Union after WWII, so many Millions of Soviet men died fighting the Nazi invasion that the Soviet regime opted to subsidize population restoration by giving stipends to Soviet mothers having child after child regardless of their marital status. Of course a lot of Soviet men took advantage of this programn. Russian/Soviet society is still reaping the whirlwind from that program.

    Do we ban post secondary education for most if not all of American Women? I don't think that will fly politcally.

  • McCarthyist Sacramento, CA
    Aug. 25, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    If people want to see this trend change, then the real issues surrounding the phenomenon are going to have to be looked at honestly. It's commonplace to hear a lot of shaming talk aimed at men in particular, the good ol' "man-up" lecture, but the fact is that marriage in this day and age is a far riskier and less rewarding proposition for men, what with the high probability for divorce, and crippling divorce terms almost a guarantee. It's going to take a lot more than citing statistics about the health and wealth enjoyed by married people, when it is well known how bad the health and wealth is of men who end up divorced. Dr. Helen Smith explains this in her books. Another issue facing those of marriage age is the fact that getting married and having kids is not as easy as getting a car registered. Many in older generations don't appreciate how unattainable the dream of marriage and children can be these days. It's not a matter of young people not trying hard enough, or looking in the wrong places, but a matter of old paradigms being incompatible with modern courtship "games".

  • Light and Liberty St. George/Washington, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    If you can't figure out what the Eyre's just wrote, there is nothing specific that would help any readers here. Thank goodness for immigration in America today. Immigrants bring children into the world because they have more hope than many citizens. They came to America because it is a bastion of hope and children are the result of that hope. The fear mongers who talk about overpopulation haven't looked at the real world for decades. It doesn't help to point out that 7 billion people could live in Washington County (where I live) and each still have 10 square feet to live--and that is without skyscrapers and apartment complexes, etc. Obviously a little crowded, but nevertheless showing how big this world is and how many people it can support. Upwards of thousand billion has been estimated by credible scientists, including a minimum of at least 80 billion. That is without advances in food productions, technology, etc. that were unheard of 50 years ago. Those who predicted mass starvation by the year 2000 are still around. There is "enough and to spare" for those who believe in family and have faith.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    As technology and corporate farming decreased the number of people needed in rural America, people have congregated in urban areas for jobs. Outsourcing and technology has had a downward press on wages which has made it hard for people to afford a large home in urban environments to accommodate a large family. College has become another reason people have fewer kids. They want to have kids go to college to survive in this more urban world, but it's too expensive.

    Obama's efforts to help kids go to college has made things worse. Colleges just keep raising prices faster than inflation and kids end up with more and more debt to be serviced by the lower wages.

    Colleges need to be more affordable. Get rid of those stupid esoteric degrees and fancy facilities. decrease the number of Gen Ed classes so kids can finish in 4 years. We also need to help businesses grow to increase wages. Lower taxes on businesses and individuals so people can afford college and maybe they'll have more kids.

    Promote telecommuting so that people can live in more affordable rural areas so they can afford a larger house. Cut immigration of the uneducated.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:56 a.m.

    While there may some scholars who see family in different terms and posit their arguments accordingly, I don't see the same in the real world. In fact, I see a lot of encouraging signs that the family structure is highly valued, including with families who have little financial means. I would argue that the corporate culture and the income shift to the already wealthy in our society that the right so highly values is actually harmful to families. Address employment, financial security for the masses, retirement security, health care availability, and so forth, and the family structure will be stronger. I have to wonder if the demise of good employee benefits, including defined benefit retirement plans, low cost health insurance and other programs, and the weakening of employee rights (including the erosion of unions), parallels the apparent weakening of the family structure. I think conservative principles are more the cause of harm to families than anything ever conceived by the so-called liberals.

    Aug. 25, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Most people don't question the fact that the "family is the basic unit of society." What is questioned is your right to define my family.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    They aren't assumptions!

    Fact: A Male and Female are required to procreate.

    Computers have hardware and software. You can write software that runs well, buggy, or doesn't run at all. People will try to create their own reality, morality, mortality, desires and consequence. However, no matter how much code you try to write, that code can't change the CPU that is running it. Perhaps someone could design a computer that could change its own hardware. But then the creator is ultimately responsible for the design of the machine and what is possible with it.

    We like to define ourselves. People do it with politics, self "identity", tattoos, etc. The list is endless. These are all choices, like choosing to learn to play the trumpet. But you can't suddenly decide that you don't have ears, never did, and that even if you did they were meant for consuming food. It doesn't work that way.

    Fact: We cannot choose the design of our bodies
    Fact: We are free to choose what we do with our bodies
    Fact: Some choices are destructive, some are productive
    Fact: Where you see families fall, society falls with it

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    Selznick: "Are the authors suggesting that government impose these beliefs on the populace?"

    While I think it would be great if our government, the media, and Hollywood encouraged the formation and continuation of the family, I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

    It would be a big improvement if they would just stop trying to tear down families through raunchy movies, mocking of religious beliefs, and welfare programs that discourage marriage, family, and work.

  • Ohio-LDS NE, OH
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Selnick said "lots of talk in this article but no solutions offered."

    Here's a possible solution. If democratic societies are not as attuned to future generations as they should be, perhaps the most direct way to correct that imbalance would be to give children voting representation in their government. Granted, children are not sophisticated enough to exercise their own vote. But parents are sophisticated and can be trusted to represent their children's interests better than anyone else in society. So why not give custodial parents extra voting rights for their children? As one example, in a family with mom + dad + 3 kids under 18, mom and dad would each exercise their own vote + 1.5 votes for their children, for a total of 5 votes.

  • Wilf 55 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    Some truth in the article, but also simplicity and generalizations, which are then translated into absurd extremes, as in the comment by John Charity Spring.

    Matters are much more complex than presented and are different in many parts of the world. The future depends on issues of ecology, sustainability, climate change, air quality, food and water supply, and more. People who really care about the future of families and children focus on such issues, rather than making people believe it's only a question of making more babies in "intact families".

  • zabivka Orem, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    I think it should also be noted that while an ever-declining birth rate is difficult to maintain, due to the pressure it puts on the smaller working population to support a larger group of retirees, the inverse is also just as problematic. When you have a birth rate this is overpopulating the planet, you end up with a huge battle for resources. I, for one--in this technological age of automation--would much rather face the issue of taking care of additional elderly than face a lack of basic necessities due to irresponsible child-bearing.

    The healthiest alternative would be to stick to a birth rate that is close to the replacement level, without any sharp increases or decreases, allowing flexibility for society to adjust without creating huge problems of either overpopulation or underpopulation.

  • Selznik Saint George, UT
    Aug. 25, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    Lots of talk in this article but no solutions offered. Are the authors suggesting that government impose these beliefs on the populace? Censor movies and tv shows? Institute a theocracy? Providing a good example by honoring the family in our individual groups is the only Constitutional way to influence others. People can then see the happiness and strength that comes from strong families. Railing against the bad choices of others is non productive. Those you are trying to persuade will only tune you out.