Child Rearing in a Traditional Family?

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2014-05-20 – One of the last secular arguments against gay marriage is focused on raising children. Never mind that a sizeable fraction of hetero marriages never have children at all and another sizeable fraction of hetero couples are raising other people’s children from prior marriages (the so-called “blended families”). Never mind all that. That’s a discussion for another day.

Today I want to think about the way a so-called traditional family is organized: a mom that stays home with the kids and a dad that goes off to work.

First of all, when the dad goes off to work, the kids are essentially left with a single parent for most of the day. I’m not sure what is ideal about this.

Second of all, this way of organizing family life is far from traditional. Not in the long term. Just because it was the tradition in our lifetimes doesn’t mean that it goes back to biblical times. It doesn’t.

It is mostly a result of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution destroyed patterns that existed prior. Until then, dads didn’t go away to a job to work. Until then,  moms didn’t have home labor relieved by machines. Until then, kids didn’t go to school.

Dads never had much to do with raising daughters. Before the industrial revolution, maybe they taught their sons a trade. Moms took care of the little ones and taught daughters as the grew older.

There was no equal sharing of child rearing. So what’s up with saying that that’s what traditional marriage was about?

If we really valued the child-rearing aspect of old-style marriages, we’d really like two-woman marriages (2 parents) and really hate two-man marriage (0 parents). Hetero marriages would be just barely acceptable (1 parent).

Of course, this line of reasoning really exposes the argument as either not-well-thought-through (most likely) or even nothing more than a fraudulent cover for something more sinister.

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