The phrase “family values” has long been a feature of the insidious culture wars that have done more to divide us than move us forward. I don’t buy into the idea of “family values” as a pearl-clutching in the face of modernity or diversity, or moralistic grandstanding.
I take “family values” at a far more literal level – valuing the family. Strong families make for strong communities, which make for a strong society.
I would like to plant my flag squarely on the side of family values; I believe:
Working mothers and fathers deserve paid maternity/paternity leave to tend to their young charges and help strengthen their familial bonds
Workers who get sick should not have to fear loss of income or the loss of their jobs, and parents with sick children should not have to send their kids to school and expose other children to sickness because they can’t stay home and care for their kids
Families should have paid vacation time to enjoy one another’s company, build life-long memories and strengthen their family bond
Daycare and preschool education should be affordable for parents everywhere, who should not have to choose between working and making sure their children are cared for
Child development studies are clear that the vast majority of brain development happens before the age of 5, yet the majority of state education resources don’t kick in until our kids enter kindergarten. And every $1 invested in early childhood education saves $7 in the long term through reduced costs associated with remedial education, criminal justice and welfare payments.
Allowing parents to work without worrying about childcare will lift families up out of poverty, and giving families time to bond after birth and with guaranteed vacations will help make sure there is a work-life balance for everybody. We need to fight for family values, today.