Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why Is “Marriage” A Four Letter Word?

(Updated Below)

The battle against the so-called “Traditional Family Values” is increasing. When did it become politically incorrect to have a Mother, Father, and Child family unit? Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that one situation is any better than another. I know some single mothers who do a better job at raising a family than some of their dual parent counterparts. I also know some gay parents who provide a more loving, caring and supportive environment than some hetero couples. My issue stems from the “attacks,” if you will, on us “traditional” families.

Recently the media has been quick to applaud the efforts of different types of family models, while casting a disparaging light on Mother, Father, Child scenarios. And, that ugly concept of “marriage,” should only be used by women looking for a man to take care of them. I don’t know about you, but my wife did not marry me so I could “take care” of her. Far from it, she is more than capable of surviving and thriving with or without me. Women today certainly do not need male caretakers. But that doesn’t mean that marriage should be cast in a dirty light. People get married as a natural progression of their relationships. Not because they need to be recognized by some legal entity or validated by a religious faith. People get married to show a commitment to each other; some do it before God, and some before a judge. By doing it, they say, “I have chosen you. I love you. I am committed to us,” the union itself creates exclusivity.

A recent news piece on a national network highlighted single women deciding to have children without the presence of fathers. These are individual and very personal decisions. To have them presented on a national stage in opposition to Mother-Father scenarios, is just wrong.

Another piece touted the fact that a majority of women, 51%, are unmarried. This figure includes that fact that women tend to live longer then men, therefore widows are becoming a larger portion of the population. But, the focus of the piece was on women who are staying single by choice. Waiting longer to marry, and pursuing careers as an alternative. Most of the women interviewed did not rule out marriage, just that their priorities were different. I do applaud this, as it may reduce the divorce rate in this country, and may continue to reduce the wage disparity between men and women. As the father of a daughter, I wouldn't mind her waiting a while to "find the right man (or women)" while she pursues personal goals. Same holds true for my sons as well. But to create the sense that marriage is somehow not a worthwhile accomplishment is disheartening.

A person’s individual choice is just that, their choice. It’s not something that automatically puts them at odds with other’s choices. Through biased reporting tactics the “media” is creating a divisiveness that I believe is utterly irresponsible.

I live in a country where men and women are dying everyday to protect the freedoms that I enjoy. The freedom to make choices for one’s self. The freedom to decide what values work for me. And, yes, even the freedom of speech, the one I take full advantage of here. But, the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters should not be marred by a country pent on creating division among it citizenry, whatever the issue. I’m married, I’m a stay-at-home-parent, my children were not born out of wedlock, if that puts me at odds with the New World Order, so be it. It’s just my humble opinion.

Update: For some additional commentary and discussion on this topic please see Inside Fatherhood's follow-up to this piece.


DramaMama said...

Amazing. Simply a wonderful post. I wish I would have found you sooner.

There are so many definitions of "families" these days. It is not black and white anymore. Some have two dads, some two moms, some one mom or just one dad. No matter what the dynamic is, family is still a place where you are loved and taken care of and raised well to the best of the parents ability. It doesn't matter who or what the parents are.

But I agree with you, while family dynamics are changing and becoming more versitile, the traditional "family" dynamic of a mother, father and children shouldn't be pushed back on the burners to make way for the modern way of life. It is still a principle that this country was founded on.

Working Gal said...

I agree very much with your post. I work in the juvenile justice system, and I think that there are so many ways that children are being left behind. It seems silly to me to focus on "what is a family" when the definition seems obvious:

"a group of people related by blood, marriage, or otherwise who love and nurture each other, and where the strong take care of the weaker."

If our politicians would start focusing more on the ways that real life families and children are falling apart, and less on hypotheticals, we could actually make a difference. In juvenile court, I am just happy to see a sober parent sitting by the juvenile - I don't care how that parent/child relationship came into being - it's the love that counts.

Angel said...


Angel said...

There you go again, getting all published and stuff. You are writing amazing parenting articles, insightful and well written. All I'm doing is wasting time writing erotica! I feel so inferior.

Anonymous said...

LID, you know I respect you, but in this case I must disagree. First, regarding the specifics of the article you referenced, I did not find disparaging remarks about marriage so much as the out-of-date sexist notions that marriage is essential. From my reading, the article was focussed on bringing to light the idea that women no longer feel they have to get married.

As far as recent news stories being negative about traditional families, I cannot comment specifically since you did not link to any examples. However, I will say that a lot of the backlash comes from the way the pro-marriage (anti-single mom/gay parent) commentary. The conservative right (especially in the US) makes many broad generalizations, and as such alienates people who would otherwise support their fundamental ideals.

In a nutshell, I'm not so sure there is as much anti-marriage/anti-traditional family sentiment as you portray. Instead I believe that what we're seeing is an effort to suggest more tolerance of diverse families, and that the traditional model isn't necessarily the only one.