I’ve gone back and forth on how to format this article. It’s hard to stay on one single topic when talking about the cultural erosion of the importance of family. As such, I’ve written and deleted this article a couple times, simply because it turns into a rant against elements of our culture. It wouldn’t be a good read. This is my final attempt, and I’m keeping it short and focused.
TW: I’m probably gonna piss a lot of people off. SLDs apply here as they do anywhere else. I support your right to raise your children as you wish, no matter the cumulative cultural damage I think may result.
The most disheartening and soon-to-be-fatal flaw of modern Western culture is the disdain for the family. (I’m completely ignoring homosexual and other “alternative” families for this analysis; they’re statistical noise when it comes to culture as a whole). This “disdain” can be seen in many contexts, including: 1) Replacing traditional family roles with outside intervention, 2) Subsidizing family failures, 3) Transforming old stigmas into laudatory praise, and 4) Portraying family negatively. I’ll quickly expose my biases and then treat each of these quickly. Any more than a quick treatment starts to turn into a rant.
My biases are simple. I’m a complementarian, meaning that I believe women are generally better at/more inclined to certain things and men are generally better at/more inclined to certain other things. This generalization is, by no means, a straitjacket but more of a descriptive observation of people as a whole. I’m also a believer in the ideal family being a supportive, lasting, tightknit family, one that passes morals, traditions, and beliefs from generation to generation. Much of the “disdain” I see is in opposition to the generational information transfer in this ideal family.
Replacing Traditional Family Roles
This primarily falls into two categories: government as Santa, and “it takes a village.” To see the biggest indicator of how much government and other outsiders have taken over traditional family roles, simply do a time audit of a child in a typical American household. Out of the 15 or so hours little Johnny is awake, how many do his parents actually have any sort of influence? Maybe an hour? He spends 7 or 8 in school, 1 or 2 in extracurriculars and on the bus, 1 or 2 doing homework, and 2 or 3 watching TV/playing video games. Besides the odd homework check or multiplayer CoD game (ha! who am I kidding??), Mommy and Daddy hardly even talk to Johnny. Then Mommy and Daddy wonder why Johnny doesn’t carry on their morals, traditions, and values when he becomes an adult. Johnny’s primary influences are leftist-feminist teachers, Lord of the Flies peer influence, and the Internet. Two income households put kids into this cycle at a few months old, and there’s never a break.
This could be an article in-and-of itself. Suffice it to say that economic incentives matter, and, according to Thomas Sowell, the average black family was better off 100 years after slavery than after 30 years of welfare. Paying people because their family is broken incentivizes other struggling families to break as well. You get more of what you incentivize, and you get less of what you penalize. We’ve spent 50 years subsidizing broken families out of some naive sense of compassion. Of course, government shouldn’t pile on when families come apart at the seams, but the safety net should be a net (SLDs apply), not a pillowtop mattress.
Stigma to “Strong”
The cultural mantra that “different is good” completely ignores the thousands of years of trial and error that has built the traditions that the postmodern left is now tearing down. Again, this isn’t a straitjacket, but there’s a difference between approaching single parent households as parents making the best of a bad situation versus approaching them as no worse than two parent households. There’s a difference between a first marriage, a second marriage, and a fifth marriage. In attempting to build up people (primarily women) in bad situations, culture has made the traditional family passe. Being a single mom is “strong” and “brave.” Being a housewife is “backward” and “sad.”
Portraying the Family Negatively
This goes hand-in-hand with the “strong,” “brave,” broken family trope. Feminists have undercut the family as an oppressive structure since the 30s. Culture has followed along, making men into uninterested, idiotic fathers. Mothers (and children) have supernatural wisdom, but fathers are morons. Not surprisingly, people follow the cultural model, resulting in disinterested fathers having children only because their wife begged for it to “save the marriage.” The end result has been the MGTOW movement, which, despite the nugget of truth regarding the gender-based cultural unbalance, exacerbates the problem by tossing the entire family out with the feminist bathwater.
I’m a little bit proud that I’ve finally gotten this article finished. This is a difficult article to write up in spare time because it could be a 10 part, 50 page monstrosity. However, I think I conveyed the pamphlet version of the argument. I agree with the Distributists in that family is the core unit of society, and I think it makes this cultural erosion of the traditional family hugely self defeating. When culture erodes its own foundation, it doesn’t last.