The following thoughts on family values is intended —(hopefully) to direct the thinking of parents toward the importance of home discipline (a course in which my father majored and taught quite forcibly.)
One could well believe that as there were changes in family values there were also cultural changes which added their influence to the downfall of the American family. Foremost among the leaders in cultural changes is the role played by misguided government programs which encourage the breakup of families by offering entitlements to girls having babies out of wedlock.
In the days of my youth such an event, in addition to bringing disgrace upon the girl, brought shame to the entire family. However, so accustomed have the majority of the American people become to this government practice that the unwed mothers are no longer subject to the moral reproach of yesteryear.
Added to those blundering government programs is the decline in the ability of many of our public school systems to teach effectively. It could be argued that parental neglect and indifference, together with their failure to teach discipline and respect for authority in their homes places these items among the primary causes of the decay in many of today’s public schools.
A defense for those parents who say “Don’t you dare lay a hand on my child in school” can be made provided that child has been taught the discipline and respect for the rights of others that negates the requirement for corporal discipline at school.
Is it not likely that the lack of discipline in our schools is a by-product of the lack of demand for discipline in our homes? Couldn’t it be that allowing children those little omissions of values has led them into the current disregard for pride and courtesy? (Even Erma Bombeck ONCE said “Excuse me, but your lack of manners is showing.” )
The most disturbing thing about these little slippages in our culture is the fact that while the younger set is becoming accustomed to the vulgarity that seems to be taking root in our society we elders are taking the easy road of surrender rather than defending our old morality codes.
There is an old axiom which says that “Pride goeth before a fall”. Could it be then that the omission of these little values has in some way led us to the following statistics:
Just since 1960 alone (according to William Bennett) “there has been a 560 percent increase in violent crime, more than a 400 percent increase in illegitimate births, a quadrupling of divorce rates, a tripling of the percentage of children in single-parent homes; more than a 200 percent increase in teen-age suicide rate, and a drop of almost 80 points in the Scholastic Aptitude Text scores.”
Could we start making a reduction in those statistics by inducing a majority of our working mothers to again take charge of the home and the upbringing of the children? Could we then expect that the social manners and moral values of olden times would once again be taught and followed or would we first have to teach those values to those long absent from the home parents?
There are people who will ask, “Bill, why are you preaching again?” and I will say that it takes me a long time to get to where I am going and this is it ——:
Since the requirement for two salaries seems to be demanded in maintaining most homes of today I offer the following suggestion: Let the government make a study (they love to make studies) to compare the cost and effect of drugs, crime and illegitimate births of children of working mothers to the cost of paying a salary to those mothers who would rather remain in their homes and raise their children. I suspect they would find it cheaper to pay the mothers to stay at home.
Once I heard someone make the comment that up until World War 2 women stayed at home and taught their children the value of such virtues as responsibility, courage, compassion, honesty, hard work and self discipline. Each of these being a trait which is an essential part of good character.
It has been said that the commonest fallacy among women is that simply having a baby makes them a mother — which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician.
Now read the following excerpt from a LETTER to the Editor in the Dallas Morning News in which the writer and I seem to be in full accord:
“I explained to my 8-year-old daughter that my role as an round-the-clock mother and wife is the most important, powerful and influential in all the world. I told her about a very famous woman by the name of Jackie Kennedy Onassis who once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
“I pointed out the need for more women in the home—women who will teach morality in the face of immorality; honesty in the face of dishonesty; and integrity in the face of disgrace — and that without these virtues our country will crumble.”
I tip my hat to the author of this letter and to the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis who felt that her most important job in life was to be a friend and mother to her children while teaching them the correct values in life.