Increasing waves of declining morality

 are bettering our nation’s families.

Do Unto Others - The Golden Rule

F or several years now social scientists have warned us that the family is disintegrating and will not survive this century. Several writers have criticized the family and stated that this process of disintegration ought to he encouraged. In a book titled The Death of the Family, a British physician suggests doing away with the family because it is a primary conditioning device for a Western, imperial-istic world view. In Sexual Politics, Kate Millett writes that the family must go because it oppresses and enslaves women. This idea is reflected in all women’s liberation literature.

I s there danger that the American family will cease to exist? I do not think so . A larger percentage of Americans many today, have children, and commit themselves to living in a family household than ever before. We do, however, have serious cause for concern ----not that the family will disappear, hut that certain trends prevalent today will incapacitate the family, destroy its integrity, and cause its members to suffer such crippling emotional conflicts that they will become an intolerable burden to society.

Let’s look at a few of these trends.

The trend toward quick and easy divorce and the ever-increasing divorce rate sub- ject more and more children to physically and emotionally absent parents. The divorce rate has risen 700% in this century alone and continues to rise. There is now one divorce for every 1.8 marriages. Over a million children a year are involved in divorce cases and 13 million children under eighteen have one or both parents missing.

      Overworked Working Mothers

The increasing numbers of married women who have joined the labor force and work outside of the home especially mothers with young children have a profound effect on family life. In 1948, 18 % of the nation’s mothers worked outside of the home. In 1971 this figure jumped to 43% . Today, in 1986, it is over 50%. . This unpleasant phenomenon has increased marital stress and contributed to the high rate of divorce. What I find most disturbing is that an increasing percentage of mothers who work have young children. Nearly 6 million pre-school children have working mothers. Only a small fraction of these mothers work because of economic necessity.


Changing Ideas About Motherhood

Many colleges and universities convey the notion that the role of wife arid mother is passe, and to settle for such a role in life is to settle for second-class citizenship. The women’s liberation movement has had an impact here. Though it focuses on many legitimate grievances, it appears eager to deny the responsibility of being a wife and mother. Unless these women can pursue a career while raising a family, they then consider their lives a failure. My clinical experience indicates clearly that no woman with young children can do both at the same time without sacrificing either the quality of work or the quality of child care. The obtrusion of television into the home has affected the North American family in ways we have not yet begun to fathom.


The Great Interrupter

W e are just beginning to experience the first generation brought up completely on television. Some studies have shown that the average viewing time of the American child from six to 16 years of age is between 20 and 24 hours per week. If he lives to he 80, and continues to watch TV at that rate, he will have spent 8 to 10 years of his life watching television. Or to put it another way, he lives about 20,000 days. One fifth of his waking life or about 4,000 days will have been spent watching television.

Uncontrolled Behavior

The family is also affected by the lack of impulse control in our culture today. The deep moral confusion we have observed over the past decade seems to have lifted all restraint. Aggression in the home has been increasing steadily. Since it has been required to report all “battered child” cases, we have observed and alarming, true, increase in this phenomenon. Authorities now expect between 2 and 4 million cases to be reported (as legally required) this year. About 15,000 of these will suffer permanent brain damage; about 2,000 will die. Many more cases still go unreported.

Promiscuity and Perversion

Even more prevalent in society is the failure to control sexual impulses. The number of illegitimate births in this country continues to rise and more than one-quarter of a million occur each year, (that’s 250,000.) . 21% of all births in the United States occur in the age group between 12 and 19; half of these girls are unmarried. Teenage pregnancies have increased by 33% within the past 5 years, (1980-1985). Statistics for 1974 show more than one-half million (500,000+) teenage pregnancies, half of which terminated in abortion. That 50% of teenage marriages end in divorce within 5 years makes these findings no less disturbing.

I have also noticed an increased incidence of homosexuality among young people and also much greater freedom in expressing it. These trends hurt the family because they contribute to a change in child rearing, or lack of it, that has taken place in this country during the past few decades. Child care has shifted from parents to other people or agencies. A home in which both parents are available to the child emotionally as well as physically has become the exception rather than the rule. What about the future? What can we expect if these trends continue: First, the quality of family life will continue to deteriorate, producing a society with a higher incidence of mental illness than ever before. 95% of our hospital beds may he taken up by mentally ill patients. This illness will he characterized primarily by a lack of self-control. We can expect the assassination of people in authority to he a frequent occurrence as well as events like the 16-year-old girl who recently began shooting people “for the fun of it.” Crimes of violence will defiantly increase, even those within the family. Because battered children (if they survive) tend to become parents who abuse their children, the amount of violence within the family will increase exponentially. The suicide rate will continue to rise mostly among teenagers arid those in mid-life.

In the past 20 years, however, the suicide rate in 10-to-14-year olds has tripled. We already are producing an enormous number of angry, frustrated, depressed, and suicidal kids. We will also continue to witness changes in the expression of sexual impulses. As sexuality becomes more and more unlimited, more separated from family and emotional commitment, the deadening effect will cause more bizarre experimenting and widespread perversion. Jean O’Leary has written in the National Organization for Women (NOW) publication that lesbianism should he taught in our schools and that school counselors should take courses “to teach a positive view of lesbianism.” And a group in Boston called the Boston Boise Committee has been trying to convince the public that there is nothing “inherently wrong with sex between men and boys,” to lower the age of consent to 14. and to change the child molestation laws to reduce legal barriers against such relationships.

Self Denial: Key to Fulfillment?

As a nation we appear to be more confused morally than at any time in our history. Perhaps we need to hear a little less about self fulfillment and a little more about self-denial. Could it be that denial is a key to fulfillment? We need to hear more about the infinite worth of a human being, that one child or one spouse transcends in time and significance all of our secular institutions put together even our institu- tional churches. Parents today often resent children because they interfere with their fulfillment.” If a woman of 25 with two children, 2 years apart, gives full time to rearing them until they are eighteen, this leaves her with two-thirds of her adult life to follow whatever interest she desires, Is this too great a sacrifice?

We need to take time for our vertical relationship, and for relationships with members of the family, whether at home or away. Not only do they need us, hut whether we realize it or not, we need them. In our day we are seeing an all-out assault on the family. It is coming from many different sources. We must become aware of these sources so that we can wisely build a spiritual “wall of protection” around the family and use the family as a strong base to turn our nation hack to God.


The Rebirth of AMERICA,

Copyright @1986, (pgs. 92-95) published by:

Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation - Philadelphia


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