What are family values? When politicians leap to the podium and begin talking about restoring family values, which values are they talking about? Family values can mean many things to different people, and so leaving family values in the hands of politicians means exactly what?
Some attribute family values to the basic biblical principles while others focus family values on discipline and the responsibility factors of becoming an adult. Many people claim that today’s parents are too soft on kids, and that society has become over sensitive to children. Some believe that spanking your child in public is a parental right while others believe that spanking is abusive and teaches fear and violence. Who is right?
Some interpret the meaning of family values to be the value of family, as in traditional families with a mother and a father and the family dog. Others interpret family values to mean the value of family, the value of providing children a warm safe place to learn and to grow, to return everyday from the world and know they are loved and learn to be responsible adults.
By interpreting family values as a definition of family, of what others believe is the “right kind” of family, who are we hurting? We certainly aren’t hurting the adults of the family. When we point to a single parent family, an inter-racial family, a homosexual family, or any family that someone’s imagination decided wasn’t the “proper” family, and we abandon their right to be considered a family, it’s the children who get hurt. The children’s self esteem and identity in the world suffers, and the children learn to hate each other for the decisions their parents have made.
Family values are supposed to be out the quality of the family. That means principles of love, tolerance, acceptance, responsibility, safety, and the family’s ability to do the right thing while out in the world and under their own roof.
Family values lay in the hands of every individual family, and whether or not they exercise their ability to give to the world positive and effective influence. Every day people have the power to teach their children positive influence or negative influence. Every day children have the option to either be positive forces or negative forces. Families with strong family values are those who motivate their children to be positive forces in the world, and who lead them by example.
When politician make promises of restoring family values, how exactly is it that they propose to get into the head of every parent and affect them enough to teach their children to be stronger, better, and kinder? By telling them they aren’t the “proper” type of family? Family values are up to each individual family, not the political system. Family values are free choice, and while there may be those who oppose the values that some families possess, there simply isn’t room for the open criticism of families that defy the nuclear familial definition.
The instant a judgment is determined that creates a “right family” and a “wrong family,” opposition heats up, defiance and cause oriented protesting begins, and people get so lost in defending their right to be a family that the basic code of family values becomes lost on both sides. Attacking people for loving their children because they do not fit a political frame work is in fact ridiculous. Political decisions and political values tend to appeal to only one sector of the community.
By allowing the government to decide what the correct moral code for family structure really is, we are handing our basic freedoms right back into the hands of governmental policies. Our freedom of choice, freedom of speech, and freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all placed in dreadful jeopardy the instant politicians define a family.
There is no denying that there is a crisis in the United States when it comes to family structure. But the crisis is not one that is intermingled with white Christian politics. We have one half of the country too busy trying to make enough money to make ends meet and provide food for their children to be home to discipline their kids, and we have the other half recruiting the help of reality television to teach them how to discipline their own children because they don’t know how. Society has become so sensitive to over disciplining their children that parents are being beaten up by their 5 year olds, and doing nothing about it. I am certainly not advocating beating children. Nor am I one to claim that spanking solves disciplinary problems. But I do believe that family values comes down to teaching children right from wrong, no matter how many parents are in the household, what color they are, what their income level is, or how many of each gender there are. Discipline is a form of teaching. Teaching children right from wrong and the obvious consequences that go along with doing right and wrong is sorely lacking in our society. That is an issue parents, not the government, need to address.