Poll: Are “family values” outdated?

Inspired by a recent Room for Debate in the New York Times, we’re going to talk about how the notion of family has evolved in America and how that definition affects public policy. Tune into The Daily Circuit Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. for the discussion.

Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Guy

    Hearing any politician speak about “Traditional family values” seems to show their ignorance more than their personal values. The traditional human family unit is the extended family including not only children and parents but grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

    The “nuclear family” (which is what most mean when they speak of the “traditional family”) is a historically recent thing. The alleged support for “Traditional family values” is just another disguised way of saying, “you should be like me”. Anyone who claims they know the best way for other people to live is either a fool or a bigot and usually both.

  • DanaD

    Campaigning on a ‘family values’ platform is playing to the fears of certain socially conservative voters. The phrase has become code talk that legitimizes bigotry, sexism, and religious discrimination. It also does not result in good public policy. There is no evidence that forcing a narrow view of family life on everyone actually improves lives or makes it easier for people to raise healthy, happy children. How many teen mothers have been helped by the pro-marriage focus of TANF legislation? Probably none. Real wages? Better child care? Access to health care and information to prevent a second pregnancy? These are examples of real help.

    It doesn’t help that those espousing family values often lack them themselves. I wouldn’t hold Newt Gingrich up as a shining example of marital fidelity.

  • Steff

    When politicians use the phrase “family values” what i hear is that they intend to attack a section of society in order to win points with Evangelical Christians. If there ever was a thing as “family values” it has become so politicized that its no longer about optimal family structure, it is about the politics of hate and winning elections.

  • sue johnson

    I feel sad that all three of you on this program are laughing at us, the people who believe in family values. Can you not have a honest debate on this subject? mpr disappoints me again. sue

  • Bela

    Definition of family values is very specific to each family and to each individual. Being part of the social spectrum is one part but the roots of each individual, where each one of us come from that help define us and our individual value become a large part of our family’s value.

  • Sarah

    I would like to hear the phrase “traditional family values” unpacked, simply using basic adjectives, not a politically charged definition. If we are talking about basic terms such as respect and love, then all families should strive for these things, regardless of the particular structure of a family home. They are simply family values. No one group gets to say that those values of love and respect belong exclusively to them. If all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, lived accordingly, what does anyone have to complain about? If couples fail to live out these values fully, then there will be consequences; for example a 50% divorce rate among “tradtional” and non-traditional couples. We all fall short. No one is perfect, so can we stop pretending now and get back to nurturing those family relationships? They are so much mo important than this debate in the long run. Really.

  • Will

    “Family Values” is a dog whistle to society to advise that the whistler shares the goal of telling other people how to live.

  • Alison Blomster

    I am “married” to my partner. We had a ceremony 3 years ago. We live together and have raised children together. By living our lives and our values every day, there is no way that any politician or any amendment could ever “unmarry” us. Sorry conservative politicians, you can keep us from access to services, but you cannot keep us from loving each other, supporting each other, and living our lives.

    Additionally, these “traditional family values” have not always been so…only since about 1940 or 50. Read the book

    “The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap” by Stephanie Coontz

  • Pete S

    Listening to your guests on this session was un-nerving. The comparison of ‘family valves’ to the Cleaver family is insulting and makes people who believe in family values out to be quaint, outdated and unintelligent. Equally disturbing was a comment by your other guest that ‘we the people’ need to elect politicians who can enact policies which support the ‘new family types’ that have evolved in our society. In other words, let governments take care of children’s needs; a role that is the core responsibility of parents and families. This is the same ultra-liberal non-sense that enabled generations of children to be born and raised outside of a stable family, many of whom rely on public assistance and statistically end up being less successful in life. Nearly 40% of children are born out of wedlock in this country; who in their correct mind can argue that this is the best thing for these children or society.

    It’s obvious that the religious right has tried to co-opt the idea of family values as code for an anti-abortion, anti gay rights policy platform; and apparently your far left guests have bought into this ignorant/narrow definition of what family values really are. In the future, let’s not waste our time with guests who are clearly political ideologues, let’s have some experts who can help us understand the problems associated with having 40% of children in a single parent family, and what we as a society can do to fix that. For example, whether you like Obama’s politics or not he is a good man, he obviously had a loving, present mother and grandparents. It is their type of ‘family values’ (not government) that raised him successfully, and which should be explored.

    A frustrated moderate, Independent.

  • jfh

    Campaigning on a “global family” platform is playing to the fears of socially progressive voters. The phrase has become code talk that legitimizes bigotry, sexism, and humanist discrimination.

    It also is poor public policy. There is evidence that forcing a global view of family life by Socially-Progressive Elected Officials actually reduces the quality of life through abdication of parental responsibility, and it makes it easier to raise dependent, delinquent, and destructive children. For reference, consider the social policies found in Chicago, DC, or LA and review the Quality of Life produced for their residents.

    How many teen mothers have been helped by parental abandonment to the Global Village? Very, very few. Real help would reinforce individual parental responsibility, and would encourage the Global Child to become productive and valued and to take care of him/her self.

    Those raising their children by the Global Village doctrine need only look to Bill Clinton as a shining example of marital fidelity.

  • John

    Why is it that the right wing, including the Tea Party and especially the Evangelical Christians and Catholics, sees fit to impose its views on the rest of us. Most Minnesotans are still centrists. We need a bigger tent than these narrow-minded people provide us. The political plumb line has been dragged substantially to the right, making the Democrats seem quite centrist. Our Democrats are now about aligned with Britain’s Conservative party.

  • jfh

    Why is it that leftists, including Progressives and especially the Agnostics and Atheists, see fit to impose their views on the rest of us?

    Most Minnesotans are still Nice Scandanavians. We need a smaller tent than these narrow-minded leftists provide us. The polictial plumb line has been dragged through the mud, making the Progressives seem all too sanctimonious. Minnesota Progressives are now about aligned with The Holy See.

  • Guy

    Laws or amendments banning “Gay marriage” declare that there is a class of people that do not deserve the same rights everyone else enjoys. The word for this is bigotry.

  • Jamez

    This seems to be a conflict with the idea that laws should either be made to uphold or foster and ideal or should be made to uphold or foster the real life situation whether it fits an ideal or not.

    I am of the opinion that these laws should deal with the real life situation as this is where real people are living and needing legal support.

    This is not to disparage the “ideal” of the nuclear family but to recognize that despite the ideal, many and perhaps most people are living and dealing with situations outside of that ideal.

    Indeed, that ideal has never really existed anywhere but in theory even if it has been given preference through the law.

    It seems to me that the more traditional family structure has been what we call extended and multigenerational.

    This seems to be the way my family operates. We help each other out from one nuclear household to the next. Some of us live with parents. Some of us live with brothers or sisters and some of us live with nieces or nephews depending on who has the need. We could not exist very well at all without making these inter-familial arrangements.

    As a gay member of my family, I have been integral in this process, indeed a sort of hub if you will. Only an ideologically blind fool would call me anti-family and my brothers, sisters and parents would most certainly step to defend me in that regard.

    A true family is where any people of lineage or mutual affection come together to provide for a household of lifelong support, encouragement, challenge and love. The state has no business in limiting that description based on some theoretical notion of how that should play out.

    If gay people are committing themselves to marriage and proclaiming that then the deed is done in spirit as surely as a sacrament is the outward sing of an inward grace – i.e. the celebration of a reality that already is. It would only be a good thing that the state put its support behind these household commitments as that would only promote further stability in society by recognizing the reality of these familial relationships among us.

  • Scott

    If by “traditional family values” you mean taking care of the people you love and care deeply for I’m all for promoting these values.

    If by “traditional family values” you mean exclusionary notions of who gets to be a family worthy of acknowledgement and acceptance then these “values” are outdated. The family values I grew up with certainly did not rely on excluding anyone else in order to be good to those people in my family and extended circle.

    If your traditions require exclusion of others or a refusal to accept lives different than your own then I do think those traditions are outdated. Any traditions that don’t acknowledge the diversity of legitimate human experience and expression are pretty well outdated in a world where we value freedom, human rights and self determination.

  • Diane

    Family Values is about how you live as a unit. Learning how to compromise, trust, forgive, love. It is not about who makes up a family. All families need values to guide them.