The last several decades have not been kind to the family in America. In fact, since the 1970s the family—historically the principal social unit in American society—has been trapped in a steady downhill spiral. Less than half of American households now contain a traditional nuclear family—father, mother, and children. More than 40 percent of children are now born into households in which no father is present, the rate of non-married cohabitation is up seven times over what it was in 1970, and half of all marriages end up in divorce. Not a pretty picture.
Writing for Vision Forum, Kevin Swanson has this to say about the state of the family in contemporary America: “With each new generation over the last fifty years, the plight of the family has worsened, and the problem is getting harder to ignore. In 1960, 70% of young men showed maturity by age 30, while today, the opposite is true: 70% of young men are not ‘grown up’ by 30 years of age. Today, 70% of children will not grow up with their mothers and fathers at home, and the trend is only growing bleaker. In 20 years there will be very few young men who are grown up enough to provide for their wives and children…The family is dying a slow and miserable death in the West. There are several institutional forces that have worked hard to dismantle the family over about the last six generations. Our colleges, universities, K-12 schools, churches, corporations, and government have marginalized the family unit because they do not see the family as integral to the socio-economic system.”
Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton foresaw what was happening to the traditional nuclear family in western culture and warned against its demise. They waved a red flag with statements such as this: “…measures such as unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and national health insurance constituted a dangerous new form of servitude” that would allow the government to supplant the family as the key social unit in society. These visionary thinkers were prescient.
One of the by-products of the decline of the traditional nuclear family in America has been a sharp increase in the number of single mothers. In fact, in both of his elections single mothers were the most dependable voting bloc for Barack Obama. Mitt Romney attempted to reach out to single mothers in a vain effort to draw them away from President Obama. He need not have bothered. Single mothers will vote for the party of big government every time no matter how incompetent the Democrat candidate may be or how destructive his policies are for American families. Why? Because when single mothers cannot rely on men to help provide the security they need for themselves and their children, they turn to the government. On this topic, Kevin Swanson wrote: “As long as the majority of households are led by single women, and the nuclear family makes up less than half of American households, we will never see a reprieve in the rise of big government.”
The decline of the family in America compounds all of the other social problems that plague our nation. I will give Kevin Swanson of Vision Forum the last word on this subject: “But what happens to a society where the nuclear family is in the minority and dysfunctionality is the norm? Dysfunctionality gives rise to more dysfunctionality. The law of sowing and reaping is inevitable; we reap more than we sow—and absent a fundamental change of course, the unsavory harvest of broken families will only get worse over time…This is where we are today, and the economic situation is dire. Unless we change the way we educate, the way we do our economics, and the way we integrate our families, I tremble to think what will happen in the upcoming decades.” (For more on this subject refer to Kevin Swanson’s essay, “The Family Economy in Crisis,” at www.visionforumministries.org).