CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Great Family Cover-up

Apr 4, 1993

Are all forms of living arrangements just the same? Do all family structures offer similar environments for a child’s development? Yes, according to the media. The papers regularly come out with stories about how the traditional family no longer exists and even if it did, it is no longer necessary.

Indeed, there is a mountain of evidence available which suggests that there is a strong case for the two-parent family.

But unfortunately, this evidence is not coming out. Is it deliberately being covered up? One can only speculate. But there does seem to be a conspiracy of silence concerning the ever-growing body of evidence which supports the two-parent family.

Let me give two examples, both from the Melbourne Age’s weekly women’s section. This page often features articles on family issues. Appealing to feminists, it tends to downplay or ignore evidence which would mitigate against young mums entering the paid workforce. For example, on the 24th of March it ran an article on child-care. The whole tone of the article was that day care is fine for kids and mothers should feel no compunction in abandoning kids for careers. Only one sentence was devoted to someone (Jay Belsky) who questioned the impact of day care on kids, while 11 paragraphs were devoted to rebuttimg his findings. And the source of this rebuttal?: The Australian Institute of Family Studies. (One can legitimately wonder whether the $3 million-a-year taxpayer-funded Institute has some hidden agenda – it seems to regularly promote every type of family but the traditional family.)

Or again, take the 17 March issue. There it was argued that the time when women stayed at home with their children “was a unique aberration, and it failed” The myth is again repeated that the days of mother staying at home with the kids are gone, and everyone today is in favor of the “new multi-option family” where mothers can breeze into the paid workforce with no concern for the kids. This is because studies show that mothers do better when they are in the workforce, and children suffer no ill effects in daycare.

Again, the selective use of evidence is apparent. There is no doubt that some studies have come up with these conclusions. But what is also without doubt is that when you use such evidence, without at least informing the reader of evidence giving the opposite conclusions, then information is being replaced by propaganda. And that is what so much of the mainstream media is about today: providing politically correct propaganda, instead of giving viewers and listeners real information which provides all the alternatives to a given issue.

The issue of the two-parent family is a case in point. A huge amount of evidence is available which suggests that kids do better – in every way – in a two-parent family. But this evidence is not being heard. How come?

Armand Nicholi, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical school, has studied the literature and research on the question of parental absence and children’s well-being. The literature spans over 40 years of research and study. His conclusion: “What has been shown over and over again to contribute most to the emotional development of the child is a close, warm, sustained and continuous relationship with both parents.”

Nicholi goes on to make this observation: “One other comment about this research. In addition to the magnitude of it, the studies taken as a whole paint an unmistakably clear picture of the adverse effects of parental absence. Yet this vast body of research is almost totally ignored by our society. Why have even the professionals tended to ignore this research? Perhaps the answer is, to put it most simply, because the findings are unacceptable.

“Attitudes which now prevail toward parental absence resemble those once prevalent toward cigarette smoking. For decades Americans ignored the large body of research concerning the adverse effects of cigarette smoke. We had excellent studies for decades before we began to respond to the data. Apparently as a society, we refuse to accept data that demands a radical change in our lifestyle.”

Lifestyle change indeed. All the bunk we’ve been hearing for the last three decades would need to be reexamined. The philosophy of the sexual revolution would need to be seriously challenged. And the powerful gay and feminist lobbies would also find themselves no longer getting a free ride if this evidence was more widely known.

The evidence available is so extensive that it cannot here be covered in a way to do it justice. A lengthy summary of the findings is available from the author.

The summary makes plain that there is evidence to show that not all forms of family life are equally of value. Some forms of family life have very real negative consequences.

But what we are saying is that certain forms of the family (namely the intact two-parent family) are to be preferred for a number of reasons. Why the available evidence seems to be not widely known can only be guessed at. But my suspicion is that there are groups who for various reasons do not want this information to be known. Call it a conspiracy, or a cover-up, or what have you, but surely it is time for those who support the family stand up for it knowing that their case is not without evidence.

So the next time you hear someone saying that all types of household arrangements are equally acceptable, you will know that in addition to your initial gut reaction, there is a tremendous amount of research to back up your suspicions that such a statement is totally fallacious.

Indeed, the reckless comments that are heard almost daily need to be challenged. Even a recent Melbourne Age editorial was opining that “There is no reason for believing any type of relationship is objectively better or worse than any other, and there is no good reason for discriminating in favour of, or against, any type of relationship.” Such nonsense can now finally be put to rest.

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