What does the phrase "Family Values" mean?
We say it a lot. Politicians mention it a lot as if they wore family values on their
chests like badges. People say it and we nod to each other as if we were in universal
agreement about something. Yet, I haven't found anyone who can tell me what it actually
means, and how to define it.
I've spent over 2 hours looking for a website that actually says "this is what we
believe family values are". I've seen plenty of sites that claim to be about
family values. But, all they really do is talk about specific issues that they are
concerned about. And that's great.
But, how can we promote family values when we don't know what they are?
Personally, in general, I would say that they would be methods, traditions and social
customs that promote healthy inter-personal relationships, promote respect, consideration,
equality, social behaviors and personal responsibility.
For many, family values includes religion.
Family values would provide a safe environment in terms of communities as well as
protection from drugs and other social detriments, responsible parenting, good schools and
a government that pro-actively works toward ensuring that the future world that our
children grow into is manageable and sustainable.
It's easy to blame movie producers and musicians for negatively impacting our culture.
It's always easier to point the finger at someone else. But, the truth is, the greatest
impact on children is made in the interaction with parents.
We speak of family values as if nothing else is of greater importance. We talk of the
nuclear family, and the importance of doing things together, quality time...
And yet, as a culture, we live in an economy that nearly requires a two-income family,
and even with that, many find it hard to get by, and so the time they spend working to
support their families means time they can't spend with their children.
Our governmental leaders talk of our economy as if corporate health and the stock
market is a reflection of our economic health as a whole, though it isn't. But we're
always seeking to increase productivity, requiring more hours of work, often for the same
or lesser pay.
We have welfare to work programs for women who barely have time to be with their
children because they have to work - often more than one job - to survive, and despite
their hard work and attempts to rise above, we still condemn them for not spending the
time teaching and disciplining their children.
I believe it's time we had a national discussion about family values and what they mean
to us so that we may know when we have succeeded in creating that environment, as well as
how to measure our progress along the way.
Last fall, there was a case about "emovies" in Utah. Basically, people got
together and decided to rent out video tapes that had been edited, having removed
extremely violent or sexual or graphic materials of various kinds so that people would
find the movies appropriate for their children.
Frankly, I think they had a decent idea, but they shouldn't have done it without
I'm adamant about preserving the integrity of intellectual properties and freedom of
speech. But I'm also very open to ideas that give parents more options when consider
things that influence their children. Creating this kind of a partnership with Hollywood
only makes sense. The same idea could easily be applied to other products of all kinds.
I'm all for family values. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be. I just think it
would be great for us to actually define what they are, in their most universal form, and
then cause them to exist together.
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