Monday, November 12, 2018

A Happy Family

Good Monday morning. 

I hope you're not expecting much in the way of post-election discussion. I am over it. I am glad Republicans held the Senate primarily so they can *hopefully* continue confirming judges, though the final make-up of the Senate that will convene in January is unclear as they are still counting votes in a few states.

Specifically, Arizona is still counting votes in their Senate race, though it appears that race will eventually officially be won by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Everything in Arizona appears to be on the up & up; it's just a close race & thus they literally will count every vote. Florida, is, of course, another matter. I am trying to pay very little attention to the fiasco in Florida. I guess to be fair to the people of Florida, I should say there is quite a mess in Broward County, a county that continues to land itself in the news because it is apparently full of inept fools. My guess is Rick Scott is the next Senator from Florida, & Ron DeSantis is Florida's next governor. When those calls will be official I've no idea, & on this cold, rainy Monday morning, I just really do not even care.

Last week I discussed the merits of the time change, or more specifically I discussed why you should embrace the dark, cold winter. You can read that by clicking ---> here if you're so inclined.

This morning before I sat down to type this blog I was working on my agendas for the week. I always type up a weekly agenda for the classes I teach. It helps the students organize themselves, & it also helps me organize myself. At the end of this week's respective agendas (one for my speech class, one for my Freshman Seminar classes) I typed, "Happy Thanksgiving." I changed the font from my traditional Times New Roman to a fun, festive font. I admittedly enjoy playing around with fonts. I looked over the agendas before I posted them online, & I looked at my pretty, "Happy Thanksgiving," & I was a little heartsick for some of my students who are unlikely to have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Recently I read an interesting article from the Institute for Family Studies. You can click here to read the article in full. Titled, "The Wealth of Nations Begins at Home," it was, for me, a fascinating read about the importance of family. There are no new, earth-shattering concepts in the article. Rather, the author begins by explaining that, "Economics has its roots in the Greek word "oikonomia," which means the "management of the household." The author goes on to explain research that sought to examine the link between family structure & global economic growth. Those two things might be seemingly unrelated, but oh, they are not. 

What is discussed in this short article is amazing but also common sense if you think it through. The premise of this argument is that not only do stable, married couples enjoy economic benefits that impact their immediate family, but stable, married couples positively impact the nation their family calls home; the benefits can be seen economically, educationally, & even in the area of public safety. 

Healthy, functional families tend to raise healthy, functional children, but in a macro sense, healthy, functional families are the backbone of healthy, functional nations. 

And we wonder why we're seemingly falling apart. Our culture glorifies single motherhood, & this has been a push for years in Hollywood (see: Murphy Brown, Angela Bower (Who's the Boss?) as well as countless sitcoms in which Dad is a hapless figure, the butt of all family jokes). To dare suggest people wait until marriage to have children is considered by some to be hate speech. In my current position at the community college I teach & interact with quite a few young people who have made poor choices in life. They are so far behind in the count, to borrow a baseball metaphor, that you can sometimes see defeat written on their faces. They have no training or education that might help them find & keep a good job. Some of them haven't reached their twenty-first birthday & they have two or three children of their own. Few of those with children are married. I am, as a state employee, not encouraged to tell them hard truths about the wisdom of God's way of doing things.

We look to government for solutions to all our problems when government programs have, since the 1960s, enabled Daddy to walk away. When Daddy walks away, he leaves a hole not even the largest government check can fill. We want our institutions to do what only a healthy family can do, & this is one reason why we're perpetually frustrated with our government, & our schools, & yes, even our churches. No one other than Mama & Daddy can do the hard work of properly rearing children, not their school, not your church, & certainly not the government. The more parents outsource their parental responsibilities to others, the more we all suffer. 

I do believe there is a case to be made that we all suffer. If my neighbor down the street is a single mother whose son feels unloved because his father never calls him & he acts out by burglarizing my home, I suffer. If my state decides to raise taxes in order to further fund school programs that they believe will narrow the gap between students living in two-parent homes & students living with a single parent (& these gaps are well-documented), I am literally paying for other people's selfish decisions to walk away from their parental responsibilities.

Fix your family. As much as it is within your power, fix your family. Help others fix their family when you can. Try & fill in the gaps where you can for broken families. I have been more Mom to a handful of students than I was Teacher; some kids need to learn how to fix comma errors, but some kids need far more.

If you will spend next week surrounded by happy, healthy, selfless family members who love you & who make God-centered decisions, be so very thankful. 

Oikonomia. Manage your household. Actually, young people, first manage yourself. Then, when the time is right, manage your household. Fight for your marriage. The rest — all the macro issues about which we fret & argue like education & our debt & all these scary mass shootings that dominate the news — might literally fall into place.

Like I said, the argument put forth in the research that's summarized in this article I've linked is not rocket science. As the family goes, so too go the nations. Our first mistake is the assumption that some new law or government program will fix our problems, when in fact laws & programs have created some of our problems. Our other mistake is not recognizing the extent to which the family has been & continues to be demeaned & redefined by our culture. Our culture actively seeks to reject God & His wisdom, & the God-designed, God-centered family is one of the first casualties. This has disastrous consequences on both the micro & macro level. I don't need to link to the countless studies & statistics that show the uphill battle single mothers face to keep their kids on the right path; educationally, economically, & criminally, children of single mothers are significantly more likely to struggle.

Mama & Daddy are the first line of defense, not government. If you are blessed with children, you need to be Mama or Daddy first regardless of what other shoes you fill. Elected officials, school teachers, & even preachers need to be Mama & Daddy first. One thing I love & appreciate about my preacher is that he is Daddy first. He should be Daddy first. His boys are his priority. If everyone approached parenting the way he does, the therapists & counselors & preachers who spend a great deal of their time trying to piece together broken people & broken families would have considerably more free time on their hands. It starts at home. I must end with Ronald Reagan's words: "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."

I hope you have a good week. It is mighty cold in Louisiana right now, & that makes me mighty happy.


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