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The Forum > Article Comments > Getting a family-friendly society > Comments

Getting a family-friendly society : Comments

By Leslie Cannold, published 30/5/2005

Leslie Cannold argues that education is the key to better work and family balance

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“Educators at the primary, secondary and tertiary level have a vital role to play in ensuring we get the family-friendly society to which most of us aspire. We must describe the present, but situate it in the forces and struggles of the past.”

OK, but eventually it becomes necessary to define what types of families generally make the best families, and what types of families should be discouraged.

Consider the following from

I have taken out the name of this type of family and used the word “this” instead.

· Over half of all first marriages are preceded by [this] today, compared to virtually none earlier in the century.
· Nearly 60 percent of high school seniors supported [this] before marriage.
· A 1992 study of 3,300 cases found that in their marriages prior [this] estimated to have a 46-percent higher hazard of dissolution than [not this].
· [This] increases the risk of domestic violence for women.
· The risk of physical and sexual abuse for children is 20 times more likely if biological parents are [in this] and 33 times more likely if the male is not the natural father.
· Annual rates of depression among [this] couples are more than three times that of married couples.
· Demographers at Pennsylvania State University discovered in a 1997 longitudinal study that [this] increased young people’s acceptance of divorce.
· Seventy-five percent of children born to [this] couples will see their parents split up before they reach age sixteen compared to one third of children born to married parents.
· Children living with their mother and her unmarried partner have more behavior problems and poorer academic performance than children from intact families.

Now if the above is correct, then this type of family should be discouraged, as it represents a backward step for society.

So if academics and educators have a part to play in creating a family friendly society, they eventually will have to state what types of family are to be encouraged or discouraged.
Posted by Timkins, Monday, 30 May 2005 12:18:42 PM
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Timkins, interesting post. I'm not sure what you are proposing in your posts on other threads when you talk about "covenant marriage" but in my musings on the topic I have the view that "this" type relationships (I presume you mean de-facto) are at one end of a spectrum of options with a literal interpretation of christian marriage (death do us part except for infidelity etc) being somewhere at the other end of the scale.

I like the idea of spelling out up front what is expected in a "marriage" and what the rules are. At the moment it seems that people can accept many of the risks/consequences of marriage with no specific intention to do so (being in a relationship more than a certain length of time etc). No fault divorce although having its good points means that the party who does the most to destroy the marriage wears no more of the consequences than the party who tries their hardest to do the right thing. The consequences are decided by other factors including child residency and access to legal support.

I think that "this" relationships are seen as a lower risk type of committment at the moment (regardless of what the stats tend to indicate). Maybe if there was more option to tie into a specific type of relationship with the rules decided up front people would take more care about the type of relationship they chose.
Posted by R0bert, Monday, 30 May 2005 1:39:15 PM
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Ho hum, yet another Timkins hyperlink to a dodgy website in response to a lucid and reasoned argument with which he disagrees. Instead of a men's rights or dating site this time, it's a far right American Christian mob, who describe themselves thus:

"CWA is built on prayer and action.

We are the nation's largest public policy women's organization with a rich 25-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy."

Clearly an objective and unbiased organisation that applies high standards of rigour, unlike the "social scientists" that Timkins decries at every opportunity.

I think that Cannold is on to something here: some education would clearly assist embittered ex-husbands like Timkins to better assess the quality of information with which they try to understand their own experiences. I'd recommend some introductory units in empirical methods, sociology, anthropology, history and psychology for starters.
Posted by garra, Monday, 30 May 2005 2:01:57 PM
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Such language and unsubstantiated inferences.

But there are many people who now talk about family, so what type of families are they talking about:- single person household families, step families, de facto relationship families, co habitation families, separated families, single parent families, married families, single income families, dual income families, welfare dependant families, families in which people take drugs etc.

All of these families have different characteristics, and some would be better than others. If academics want to talk about families, then eventually they have to state what families are to be encouraged, and what should discouraged.

If they don’t have the data to describe the families that should be encouraged or discouraged, then they should establish that data, and make sure it is reliable.
Posted by Timkins, Monday, 30 May 2005 2:27:34 PM
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I agree with the essence of Timkins' argument, although linking to religious fanatics' websites is probably not the best way to back it up.

Society does need to decide what the most effective forms of family, but laying down what constitutes that family is plain wrong. The unsubtle subtext to timkins' response is condemnation of gay marriage, single mothers - get over it. That’s what society is, and its not gonna change because you want it too.

I'd prefer educators to focus on guiding principals; loyalty, responsibility, perhaps even love. Young people need to understand what is involved in a relationship, what children need to grow successfully, how to respect and trust their partner.

We need build strong families based on some teaching basic understanding on works at a psychological and emotional level throughout life. I agree with garra that understanding where we have come from is also very important.
Posted by gw, Monday, 30 May 2005 2:47:28 PM
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Gw, Leslie Cannold

I am shocked and aghast.

You say that there should be “guiding principals; loyalty, responsibility, perhaps even love”, and then you throw abuse at the ladies from Concerned Women for America by calling them “religious fanatics”, and then you try and dismiss my opinions and deny me voice by telling me to “get over it”, (whatever that means). I don’t think the author would be very pleased.

The information I copied from the Concerned Women for America site originally came from the non-partisan National Marriage Project which was conducted by Rutgers University.

Information about cohabitation or de facto relationships in Australia is typically scarce, (although about 30% of children are now born outside of marriage), but you could try another non-partisan UK site for further information about cohabitation. . However the information from the CIVITAS organisation is very similar to the information I originally provided.

You can check on all this, but if you find non-anecdotal information indicating that cohabitation in families should be encouraged and taught to children, then please reference it.

Leslie Cannold.
I’m rather curious about “Educators need to ensure their students understand the conditions that led to feminism, environmentalism, Indigenous activism and the emergence of unions.” It is rather strange that feminism is mentioned in relation to family education, as feminists have long wanted families to be cohabitation or de facto relationship type families. However the study data now coming out indicates that these types of families are generally unsuitable, and not to be encouraged.

If someone in the academic world wants young people to be educated about families, they must be willing to state what type of families are most suitable. That way everything is clearly known, and it would help remove the possibility that someone will try to indoctrinate young people into forming unsuitable families.

I’m sure you would agree that such indoctrination would be highly unethical by educators.
Posted by Timkins, Tuesday, 31 May 2005 12:43:06 PM
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