What does a family look like?
In our day and age there can be numerous answers to that questions. A majority of people believe that a family is a man and a woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife, and their children. Others believe that a family is any cohabiting couple and their children (or lack thereof).
Circumstances may create other types of families. A child may spend part of their time with one parent and part with the other due to divorce. Some parents are single because of the death of their spouse. Some never married their partner and their children only know the one parent. Some children are adopted; some are in foster care; others are raised by extended family members. Some couples (married or cohabiting) choose to remain childless while others are childless due to circumstances beyond their control.
The definition of a family can be slightly different for everyone because of their own background, beliefs, and experience.
The founding fathers however, as part of a virtuous and Christian society, and despite their vastly different backgrounds, held the traditional family to be sacred. Fidelity, loyalty, and parental responsibility were characteristics that they believed in and acquired. Fathers taught courage, hard work, and civility to their sons. Mothers taught their daughters to work hard, be well bred, and to take care of a home. Parents together educated their children zealously, teaching them what was right and wrong as well as teaching them to read, write, and figure. The Founding Fathers knew and were blessed by something that we have forgotten: The family is the central and foundational unit of society.
In a family, a child learns three main principles that prepare them to be a good citizen. The first is obedience. A child must learn to follow the counsel and direction of their parents. They learn simple rules at first- such as “don’t jump on the couch”, “don’t kick your sister”, and “listen to mommy”. Later in their development they learn to obey curfews, rules pertaining to technology use, and parental guidance in the matter of friends and activities. A child that learns to obey and respect limits will be a law abiding citizen. Imagine what it would be like if the foundation of society (the family) wasn’t crumbling? What would happen if every person was taught to obey the law- and followed that teaching?
The second characteristic developed in a family setting is that of hard work. A child needs to learn how to work in order to be a functioning and productive adult. This statement makes many people groan. “Oh no” they think. “That means chores”. Of course that means chores. But it’s more than just handing a child a list of jobs and expecting them to complete it. Hard work is taught through the example of the parents. Children mimic what they see. If they are shown from a young age that “hard work + positive attitude= fun + success” then they will model that pattern in their own lives. How much of American problems could be reduced by this? Well if the family was strong and functioning in society then it would produce children who don’t have entitlement issues, or children who don’t live off of welfare because it’s easier than working. If Americans were taught the true value of hard work from the cradle on up, then our economy and society would thrive and prosper.
The third and most crucial characteristic developed within the family is morality (or as we the Restorers call it- Virtue). In modern times the value of this teaching is being attacked with unbelievable force. Children ought to be taught right and wrong but instead many of them are taught the wishy-washy idea that basically if it feels good then they should do it. By that principle, man is no better than an animal. But are we merely beasts? No. We have the ability to think, to reason, to self discipline. It is that ability which sets us apart. If children are not taught how to use this ability then they won’t. If all they know is that “feeling good=something they should do” then how can we expect them to stay free from alcoholism? How can we expect them to not be entangled in the addicting practice of drug abuse? If they are not taught to discipline themselves in the home then how can we expect them to be productive members of society? When not taught virtue, living in a broken or negligent family, children learn to serve themselves instead of disciplining themselves.
A traditional family setting is beneficial in many other ways. It provides increased stability and security in a child’s life and teaches other important characteristics such as patience, honesty, teamwork, selflessness, and respect.
Now obviously because people are not perfect, families will never be perfect. But if we as a society recognize the importance of the family and strive to support it, rather than tear it down, then we can make strong families the “norm” instead of broken ones. Imagine a world where parents are faithful to each other and supportive to their children. Imagine a society where families stick together and help each other become better people. Imagine a nation based upon strong families, strong people, and strong characters. Families are the foundation of society and our success as mankind is dependent upon what happens in the home.