Friday, 20 March 2015

Family values

If ever there was a phrase that means precisely nothing, it's "family values". Or rather, it can mean anything you want it to mean, usually to criticise those households that are seen as weird and degenerate.

It's one of those phrases that are used to conjure up some idyllic, nostalgic paradise when everyone lived in a perfect family made up of happy, carefree individuals smothered in love and affection.

Not many families are that perfect. Most families are full of frictions and frustrations and grievances of one kind or another, and for them "family values" probably just means putting up with people who drive you nuts on a daily basis.

And if "family" implies two heterosexual parents with children, then where does that leave childless couples, or those who're on their own, or gay couples? Presumably they're a bit blemished, a bit lacking, unable to share the deep joys of family values, whatever they may be.

I'm particularly sickened when politicians pose with their spouse and children, as if that's the ideal arrangement we should all be aspiring to, and as if only politicians with these credentials can be trusted to run the country properly. As opposed to say, lesbians, who are sure to turn the country into a hopeless basket case.

Even Barack Obama feels obliged to parade his wife and kids at every opportunity, just to prove he's a regular joe who's fit to be president.

As for those politicians who regularly extol "family values" and are regularly caught with prostitutes or shagging their buxom interns, how nauseating is that?

To hell with family values. A bit more compassion, empathy and human kindness will do me fine.

19 comments:

CheerfulMonk said...

"A bit more compassion, empathy and human kindness will do me fine."

Amen to that!

Nick said...

Jean: Those are words that mean something to me, unlike "family values".

Bijoux said...

I agree that 'family values' has become a meaningless catchphrase, and nobody should be taking cues from a lot of the politicians out there. However, I disagree with you about Obama. I think he and his family are good role models for our country. Personally, I think children are treated abysmally here, so I'm all for families who value children (turning the phrase around).

Helen Devries said...

What do they mean by 'family values'?
Perhaps some interviewer should try asking them....

Wisewebwoman said...

That phrase has always baffled me. Whose family? Where?

One of the happiest families I know is my gay friend John who as a single parent adopted an abandoned African child and went through hell to bring him to the US and 13 years later they make everyone around them glow they are so joyful.

XO
WWW

Jennifer said...

Cheerful Monk took the words right out of my mouth!

:)

Nick said...

Bijoux: Given the way many children are treated, perhaps "family values" should be replaced by "nurturing values"?

Helen: Good suggestion. Pin the politicians down on this vague cliché they love to trot out.

Nick said...

www: Excellent example of all those thriving households that defy the common stereotypes.

Jennifer: Indeed. Never mind all the claptrap about families, let's just behave decently to each other.

susie said...

Annoying phrase. Up there with "it takes a village."

Nick said...

Susie: Very true. But at least "it takes a village" means something concrete, while "family values" means absolutely nothing.

Nick said...

Actually "it takes a village" is a phrase seldom heard on this side of the pond. It could do with more of an airing, because the viewpoint it expresses is an important one.

Grannymar said...

The sooner we lose labels and treat all people with respect the better all round.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Amen to that.

Liz Hinds said...

Maybe we should have human values. Otherwise known as compassion, empathy and kindness. And respect.

Nick said...

Liz: Exactly. We're all capable of that, whether we're coupled or single, parents or non-parents.

Secret Agent Woman said...

While I agree that families can (and should) be much more widely defined, I don't think Obama parades his family around for show. My impression is that he has a bright capable wife who is an integral part of his life and they are a close knit family. Why shouldn't they be out and about together. I don't think we have to assign LESS value to the standard heterosexual two-parents family, just not MORE value.

Nick said...

Agent: Okay, fair enough, the Obamas are just a close-knit family! But I wasn't saying the standard family had less value, just that politicians seem obliged to stress they have one, as the alternative is still suspect to some people.

Rummuser said...

Well said Nick. What goes on behind closed doors in families can be guessed at easily by knowing just one member of the family. In today's highly connected by social media world, I see more dysfunctional families than the so called family value families.

Nick said...

Ramana: Dysfunctional families seem to be commonplace. I think a lot of totally unsuitable people become parents and make a complete hash of it.