1. custom, especially as having legal force.
How we think about things changes over the decades. Customs change as cultures evolve and/or mix together. Often, these changes do not occur without a great deal of pain on each side. Different points of view are understandable and there is not always a clear right or wrong, at least in the beginning.
My wife and I recently watched the movie entitled, “Loving”. It was the story of a bi-racial couple from Virginia who married in 1958. But such a marriage was illegal in Virginia and they were forced by the state to move out of Virginia or be sent to prison for a year. They moved to Washington D.C. but eventually their case went to the US Supreme Court. In 1967, the Virginia law was overturned. (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) is a landmark civil rights decision of the United States Supreme Court, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.) Virginia’s law was no longer a consuetude.
I freely admit that as a child, born in 1950, it did not seem right to me to see a mixed race couple together. No one really told me it was wrong, but the attitudes of the day were unmistakable, and surely it was an uncommon sight. Truly, in my young mind, it had nothing to do with any thought of Blacks being unworthy. Simply, it didn’t seem normal to look outside your own race for love. Years and maturity changed my view. Certainly, in 1967 I felt differently about this social meme and I agreed with the Supreme Court decision. But it took a few years to understand and accept it.
I imagine before 1920 some people, especially men, thought it insane to give women the right to vote. By the 1950’s it was crazy not to do so. But for centuries before and after the biblical days, it was not common for women to have any kind of power compared to men. This consuetude was strong! It might not have been fair, but life does not guarantee fairness. People were told that they had to change how they, and most people throughout history, had thought – and it wasn’t easy. But it was certainly the right thing to do!
More recently, we have seen changes in the law that allow people of the same sex to marry. I’m sure in years to come - few, outside of those following certain religions, will think twice about a same-sex couple marrying. But to look down upon those who have disagreed does not allow deference to their religious beliefs or social experiences - especially given the newness of this change in social norms. Social changes continue mostly with LGBTQIA rights, which are hot-button topics in our society today.
The Nuclear Family
Why do I bring this all up? There is one social norm that is eroding that I will stand by until I am no longer on this earth. That social norm is the nuclear family, a family consisting of two parents and their children. Some give alternate definitions to include families with same sex parents, but I don’t agree. Not because I disapprove of the arrangement, but because it just isn’t so.
I think families come in many combinations, and any group of people that properly raise children are wonderful families! But here is the problem as I see it. Most non-nuclear families are missing a key factor – a dad!
Here are two passages from my book, “The Power of Dadhood”:
“To read examples of an American trend toward the “accepted absent father,” see David Blankenhorn’s chapter, “The Unnecessary Father,” in his book, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. Fatherless America details how the social role of fathers has been diminished and devalued.
According to many experts, some mothers, and certain aspects of society, fathers are unnecessary. A father’s presence is appreciated but not required in a family. His role is overemphasized while the role of other adults is underemphasized. He is easily replaced by other male role models. . . .
Experts speak of having one or both parents present as making little difference in the socialization of children. They say that there are positives to being a single parent. That children don’t need a father to develop normally. That fathers are superfluous. . . .
One expert states we should rid studies of the “nuclear family bias” because family structure in and of itself has little to do with the development of children. Some mothers don’t want the men who are their children’s father getting in the way. They like having better control of their children without having another parent (third party) involved.
Like Blankenhorn, I am disappointed to see that some of these “experts” hold such a narrow view of the value of fatherhood.”
“Prime time television explores social mores of the day. Murphy Brown was a TV series that broke many barriers in the late 1980s and 90s. One portion of the series’s progression was championing a woman choosing to have and raise a baby on her own. While giving pride and hope to single mothers—a good thing—another consequence was placing a tacit stamp of approval on a fatherless upbringing.
For nine seasons from 1996 to 2005, Everybody Loves Raymond portrayed Raymond as a good guy, but also as a selfish man who was rarely involved in the lives of his children—a father present but often unengaged.
Today, one of the most popular TV shows is Two and a Half Men. This show does portray a present father, to be sure. But the many social situations involved in the show don’t make it easy for Alan to continually show his son, Jake, the best models of manhood.
Other TV fathers throughout the years have simply been portrayed as bumbling idiots—think of Homer Simpson. But take heart; bumbling idiots can still be effective fathers. They just have to be loving and involved.”
I encourage any family, no matter their makeup, to do what is necessary to help their children thrive! And most do. But my message here is to not allow the nuclear family to, 1) be minimized by those who don’t endorse it, 2) be diminished by training us to easily accept otherwise or, 3) be forgotten - by working tirelessly to inspire nuclear families to be successful.
Both boys and girls need both a father, (strong father figure) and a mother (strong mother figure). Again from my book:
“Boys need their dads to be examples of not only how to be men, but how to properly treat women. They need to know when to stand their ground and when to let things go. Dads need to teach boys how to throw a baseball. I can almost always tell when a boy has never played catch with his father. I can’t recall ever playing catch with mine. I’m now a grandfather and still wish I had that experience.
Dads need to be there to answer the questions boys don’t want to ask their mothers. And when they themselves become dads, they will look back on how they were raised for answers. Don’t let their conclusions regarding fatherhood be the wrong ones. Real heroes do not wear capes, nor do they necessarily run fast or shoot straight. Real superheroes are nurturing people who take personal and family responsibility head on.”
And for girls…
“A father is the first man in her life. He is the first man she tries to impress, and she never stops trying. All men are compared to you. You may rarely understand her, and she may rarely understand you, but there are critical moments in your relationship that will help her self-image, her delicate psyche, and her self-respect. Be there for her. She learns confidence and self-esteem from the way you interact with and treat her.”
Not all families can be nuclear families. Nor or all nuclear families better than other types of families. But with more nuclear families, there will be less poverty, less crime, more educated children, less mental issues, and happier people in general. The data is irrefutable! Just google, “fatherless children statistics” yourself.
A family is the smallest social unit in the world. But he sum of all those small social units determine the success of any society. The most successful family unit is the nuclear family. Let’s get behind any movement that will make them more plentiful.