Jewish World Review August 14, 2002 / 6 Elul, 5762
How the nuclear family became "controversial"
This past year, Los Angeles Family Magazine asked me to write an article making the case for the two-parent family. That a mainstream family magazine would commission such an article is quite a sign of our times.
How has this happened? How has the nuclear family become controversial?
It has happened because many groups and ideologies have a personal interest in denying that it is best for a child to be raised by, or even to start out life with, a father and mother.
Who are they?
- Those who believe the traditional feminist viewpoint -- many professors, teachers, and their present and former students -- that men and women are essentially the same, only differing as a result of a sexist upbringing and a sexist society. If you believe that, clearly there is nothing unique that a father can give to a child that a mother cannot give, and nothing unique that a mother can give.
- Those who learned in college not to draw conclusions about life on their own or to believe wisdom from the past, but rather always to await the results of academic "studies" before concluding anything, no matter how obvious. Whenever I argue on my radio show that it is best for a child to begin life with a mother and father who are married to each other, well-educated callers ask me, "Where are the studies?"
- Those who prefer compassion to truth. In their admirable desire not to hurt the feelings of mothers who through no fault of their own (such as those whose husbands abandoned them or died) are raising a child on their own, many Americans will deny what they know to be true -- that it is best for a child to have a father and mother. Of course, acknowledging this most obvious point in no way demeans the noble work of many single mothers. Yet people are so afraid of hurting the feelings of single mothers or of gays that they deny the truth about families.
- Those who were either raised by a single parent or in a dysfunctional two-parent home and who therefore have not experienced the incomparable benefits of having a good mother and father.
- Those people, gay and straight, and the intimidating gay rights lobby who argue that gay equality demands the belief that two fathers or two mothers are just as wonderful for a child as one parent of each sex.
- Those women who are so angry at the man who divorced them or the man who left without marrying them that they have convinced themselves and others that their child is considerably better off with her as the only parent (which is true in some cases, just as sometimes it is better to be raised by a single father).
- Those single women who give birth to or adopt a child without a husband or even a live-in boyfriend to be the child's father. They obviously have no interest in perpetuating the view that it is best for a child at least to start out life with a mother and a father who are married. And the prominent Hollywood actresses who give birth to or adopt children without providing those children with a father are celebrated and praised for doing so, and certainly never criticized.
What do all these people and groups have in common? None of them is asking what is best for children. The rhetoric of rights (applied here to gays), of compassion (applied here to single mothers and gays), and of equality (applied here to gays and to men-women) combined with a culture of not judging are all preoccupied with the adults involved, not children. Compassion for children, a child's right to a mother and father, their equality as human beings -- these all get drowned in the sea of self-centeredness, moral confusion and misdirected compassion that denies them their right to a mom and dad.
And that is how it has come to pass that in America at the beginning of the 21st century, the truism that it is better for children to be raised by a married mother and father is so controversial that the case for it had to be made in a family magazine.
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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He is a director of Empower America and the author of "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to visit his website and here to comment on this column.
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