happy familyThe Synod fathers this month were trying to address a real crisis in the human race: the disintegration of the family.

The problems are very complex and are not simply a matter of people disobeying God’s law and running around with whoever they please.

Is promiscuity a problem? Of course. Is divorce a disaster? Without a doubt. Is feminism futile? Indubitably.

But all of these problems and more are rooted in larger societal and historical shifts that have influenced the breakdown of the family.

To understand we should first explain what a “family” is to start with.

We think of it as the typical nuclear suburban family of Dad, Mom and kids.

This is not really family. This is only part of a family. Think instead of living within a half hour’s drive of all your aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins, grandparents and cousins on both your mother and father’s side. This is what family was for thousands of years, but not it’s broken, and here are ten reasons why:

  1. Increased Mobility – After the second World War people started to move around more. Not only did everyone have a car, but they had travelled to fight in the war. They went to Europe. They went to the Pacific. They went to India or North Africa or England. When they came back they went away to college. From the 1950s people not only traveled in cars, mass transportation geared up so that people could not only travel as tourists, but they could move anywhere in the world for economic and career reasons. Increased mobility eroded the extended family, which for thousands of years was local.
  2. Increased Educational Standards – The post war generation went to college, and their children went to college. The increased education meant that “staying at home” was an increasingly unattractive option. Their improved educational standards meant they were eligible for jobs anywhere in the country, and with better communications and transportation they could take a job and move away from home easily.
  3. Suburban Living – The American Dream contributed to family breakdown. instead of living in a community with a large extended family, the ideal became the nuclear “Ozzie and Harriet” sort of family life with Dad and Mom and two or three kids living an idyllic life in a neat little home in the suburbs. Wife stayed at home and kept house. Husband came home to find dinner on the table and the kids neatly scrubbed ready for a good meal before settling down to homework and maybe a game of Parchesi if there was time before bed. The car was in the garage. It all seemed so self contained and perfect.
  4. The Loss of the Living Wage Married men used to be paid more than women doing the same job so that they could support their families. This changed in the mid sixties. With this came the eventual decline of the middle class suburban home ideal as an increasing number of women had to go out to work. Family life suffered as the center of gravity shifted away from the family home, the evening meal and the central focus of family life together.
  5. No Fault Divorce No fault divorce made divorce super easy and cheap for most couples. All stigma about divorce was supposed to go away, allowing not only for no fault divorce, but no blame, no guilt and no problem. As a result divorce rates jumped and family breakdown ensued. Continue Reading