Everyone in the political world loves the Family. They may not like their own families, as the second or even third marriages of our upstanding leaders tell us, but they love Families. You know about the Family with the capital F. It’s like a family, but both parents still live together, and one stays home to raise the kids. Maybe they own a modest house and take the kids to church on Sundays. Maybe not, but either way, one of the parents stays around the house and gives the kids enough chores so that they don’t have time to go join a street gang. Kids in this environment are better prepared for the great big zoo of civilized society by almost any standard. We all know about the Family. You probably also know that it’s rapidly becoming the hardest kind of family to find.
What has happened to the Family? Usually, the solution to tough questions like this is to see what conservatives have to say about it, then dogmatically cling to the answer in spite of all contrary evidence. Using this method, it would seem that gay marriage is the greatest threat to the Family. It makes sense. This is the same group, remember, that “helped [9/11] happen,” according to expert witness Rev. Jerry Falwell, a religious fanatic. Ironically, there were more religious fanatics than gays among the hijackers, but you would expect that a group clever enough to coordinate the hijacking of planes would be clever enough to blame it on the Muslims as well. This justifies the adoption laws that keep kids out of loving, two parent households and in foster care instead.
Another explanation for the disappearance of Families is the high divorce rate. Nearly half of marriages in the United States are “until divorce do us part.” It’s hard to reap the benefits of having two parents when they live 100 miles away. What is to be done? I suggest living in sin for a while. There’s no better way to figure out how much you will like living with another person than actually trying it. We take out free-trial periods with newspapers and magazines, and these decisions are not nearly as important to get right. Of course, this won’t prevent you from starting a family accidentally, but it will be a lot of fun. Maybe. That’s why you’re only testing for now, isn’t it?
To prevent free-trial periods from becoming unwanted subscriptions, we need better family planning. Studies show that birth control education does not result in increased sexual activity among kids, but it always results in fewer kids making kids. Abortion is another issue entirely, and because I cannot figure out where I stand there, I’m not about to touch it. Not even with a 10-foot coat hanger.
Moving right along, I should note that money is a pretty big issue for the Family. You can’t keep one parent at home to raise the kids when the salaries of both parents combined barely make ends meet. It is strange that the average worker is considerably more productive than he was 50 years ago, but is now far less able to support a family with his wages. That’s just something to think about; I really don’t have any solutions for this problem. Maybe you should think of something. I feel like I’m carrying all the weight around here.
The Nexus has long been known as a bastion of support for minorities, and I’m not about to let them down now. Minority families have been especially plagued by rising incarceration rates. It’s hard to keep a family together when the father is in jail. Not only do we make a lot of things illegal that shouldn’t be, but we are more focused on exacting revenge than doing what is best for society. Nonviolent offenders would be much more helpful to us at work, in rehabilitation programs and united with their families than taking up space in crowded prisons.
I don’t think that the American Family is doomed. It has been in decline for a while, but there is a lot that can be done to help it. I do find it very odd, however, that the very people who voice their support for Families the loudest seem to do the least to support them.
Loren Williams is a Daily Nexus columnist.