We have seen over the years our traditional family on the decline. I hold several events responsible: failing school policies and practices, lack of religious instruction, a society engaged in movements that caused political upheaval, as well as economics and our lack of commitment to ourselves. Additionally, divorce rates increased, religion/prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance removed from schools, economics – our wages have not keep up with cost of living. Even the boom of the internet, while it’s been a great tool for information it has also changed how we socialize. Our children today grow up socializing over the internet instead of getting out and forming personal friendships. With less families going to church we are not teaching the importance of fellowship. We have become a society of political correctness, and acceptance and a government movement to eliminate capitalism and replace it with a socialistic government. As well as the Gay and Lesbian movement to legalize same-sex marriage.
Why did we get married – marriage gave us legitimacy to have sexual relations and to bring children into the world, as taught to us by our faith. The church was a main focus point for families. We learned how to be good Christians, we followed the bible, said grace at meal times, attended church on Sundays and we were involved with our communities. With more marriages ending in divorce the family unit changed from the traditional family of mother, father, children to a one parent home. Often times putting the children in the middle and used as leverage for financial and emotional support by the custodial parent.
Up until the late 60’s traditional families were involved in their communities, attended church regularly, and participated in school events. During the 60’s we saw social change in America, the Hippie movement, communal living,
and the widespread use of recreational drugs. The ramifications of the social changes in America resulted in families becoming dysfunctional as the young person was now experimenting with their new-found freedoms, and rebelling against the traditional family.
We also witnessed the Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 60’s. While as a female I can appreciate the woman’s movement to some degree, I also think the movement crossed the line – Feminist telling American woman their lives are not fulfilled because they lacked higher education or earned their own income. A good number of married woman in the 60’s and 70’s were married just out of high school and choose to be stay at home moms and raise a family. Raising a family is no easy task and is a full-time job. But the pressure of hearing how undervalued you are resulted in many woman looking to pursue either employment or a higher education. That in its self is not a bad thing. Going back to school, taking a job to help with the family’s economics – all good things, right?
Well let’s also consider then what happened to the children. They were placed in day care, or with babysitters, or became latchkey kids. With working parents there was little time for home activities and a lot more stress to coordinate the various family events. Children that were too old for babysitters are left home alone to raise themselves and left on their honor. As children are raised outside of the home they grow up learning values from tv, neighbors, or sitters. When I raised my daughter I had to work but I had my mother as her caregiver. I knew my daughter would grow up with the values I wanted her to learn. Absentee parents, even under the best of circumstances, can be challenging. That’s not to say that many woman were not successful, a good number of woman were but the family as a unit began to fail. Now by the mid 70’s we start to see more families ending in divorce and moving further and further away from church.
By the early 80’s we see Reality shows replace the good wholesome shows like The Donna Reed show, My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, Mary Tyler Moore, and Dick Van Dyke or my favorite – the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. Reality shows did not have a moral code, they were scripted arguments and personality conflicts. Americans are watching these shows to see what drama unfolds.
What was an important part of the family as a unit is now threatened and has slowly, since the 60’s, been on the decline – Unity, morals, our family values. Children are no longer taught family morals and values and the beliefs that will determine the type of citizens we are producing. This affects the type of government our future holds. That however is a whole other issue to blog about. And as the old song goes “Children are our future, treat them well and let them lead the way.”
In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that official prayer had no place in public education. The ruling was based on the diversity of Americans attending public school and the variety of beliefs and leaving religious teaching to the individual families. While it was ruled that prayer could not be said in public schools, it is appropriate that religion be taught as history. It is part of our American history how religion played a huge part in our founders who created the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the type of government they instituted. Schools have refused to teach religious history, afraid of being accused of not honoring separation of church and state.
We now see a rise in families ending in divorce, more single parents – either because of divorce or making a decision to have children out of wed lock, more children are left to fend for themselves, parents less involved in their child’s education, less time given to religion and attending church, and less time teaching their children of the importance of family. Statistics show that single parents earn less than the traditional family and live closer to the poverty line. This now results in States having to subsidize more of these families. State and local government spend more money to hire police which results in more prisons, paying welfare and court costs. It’s the breakdown of the traditional family that has lead our society to decline over time.
There no longer seems to be much of a stigma attached to divorce; it is now seen as an unavoidable rite of passage. Interviews with young adults suggest that they want their initial marriage to last, but are not particularly optimistic about that possibility. There is also evidence that many young people are moving toward embracing the idea of serial marriage, in which a person gets married two or three times, seeking a different partner for each phase of their adult life.
The marriage bond is the fundamental connecting link in Christian society. Break it, and you will have to go back to the overwhelming dominance of the State, which existed before the Christian era. The Roman State was all-powerful, the Roman father represented the State, the Roman family was the father’s estate, held more or less in fee for the State itself. Now the question is, do we want to go back, or forward, to any of these forms of State control?
It is marriage, perhaps, which has given man the best of his freedom, given him his little kingdom of his own within the big kingdom of the State, given him his foothold of independence on which to stand and resist an unjust State. Man and wife, a king and queen with one or two subjects, and a few square yards of territory of their own: this, really, is marriage. It is a true freedom because it is a true fulfillment, for man, woman, and children.
Today we have more individuals entering into marriage with the expectation that it will end in divorce, what is important to them is the ceremony – the party, not the deep commitment to someone, not the importance of the vows you take, or honoring God by entering into a legal marriage and keeping faith. In the 40’s and 50’s being divorced was an embarrassment, it was almost unheard of. It went against religious beliefs, so married couples worked harder at keeping their families together. The decision to get married was taken seriously and given the proper respect and consideration. Today there are more individuals choosing to live together. The unwritten understanding by both parties is that it’s for as long as it works.
Marriage takes work, my husband and I have been tested, but we also understand the importance of working to make the relationship successful, remembering how much we love each other, the commitment we made to each other, and how important our faith is to us. Faith has to come first! Bringing families back to God is very necessary to bring back the Traditional American Family. It is no easy task, as much of our society has changed, but what is the alternative?
Karen J Ragland