It’s not easy being a parent these days. We live in a culture that has become hostile to the family. Modern media seeks to divide parents and children, confusing them with woke ideology and turning them into screen junkies. Modern education seeks to do the same, not only in its curriculum, but also in its insistence that government employees have more right to raise and teach children than parents. The general public, in which childless adults now outnumber parents, either casts children as a vanity project at best or a shameful burden at worst.
Then there’s the great financial cost of being a parent. Actual single-family houses are prohibitively expensive for most young parents. Basic necessities like food, clothing, health care, and all the rest continue to present huge challenges for cash-strapped households. Most parents both have to work to cover so many of these expenses, but this introduces the additional expense of childcare. Unless the parents are wealthy, most of them simply have to accept a life of austerity.
Fortunately, Republicans are noticing and saying something about it — if not actually doing anything or even running on it. RealClearPolitics recently reported that the Republican Study Committee has released a “Family Policy Agenda” that “includes over 80 specific recommendations that they will try to make law if the GOP wins control of Congress.” Finally, the self-proclaimed pro-family party is articulating an agenda to actually support the family — and desperate conservatives won’t have to pine for a pro-family politician like Giorgia Meloni to come their way.
Unfortunately, some of these recommendations have already been adopted by the GOP — they’re just putting the “family” label on it. And other recommendations fall woefully short of addressing real challenges facing American families.
In the first category, many of the recommendations concern the myriad attempts of institutions adopting what Rep. Jim Jordan calls “radical gender theory.” The committee called for outlawing transgender surgeries and treatments for minors along with educators who secretly encourage students with gender dysphoria to seek such treatments. Moreover, it advocates defunding schools that use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns without parental consent and creating a legal definition of the sexes. The committee recognizes that the gender issue is being used as a wedge between parents and their children, empowering organizations to exploit the situation and break up the family.
Similarly, it suggests pulling funds from schools that push Critical Race Theory in their instruction. Because CRT is a somewhat nebulous idea whose meaning shifts depending on the context, the committee makes its language clear, prohibiting any instruction claiming “that race is all that matters” and “categorizing children as either victims or privileged racists depending upon the color of their skin.” One would hope that this applies to school equity policies in addition to what’s said in the classroom.
Perhaps the best recommendations regard placing limits on social media companies and protecting children. In line with the legislative proposals of the Institute for Family Studies, the Family Policy Agenda would also require age and parental consent verification on social media. Such measures would definitely help children who can’t safely use the internet because the risks of being morally corrupted and brainwashed are too great and Big Tech companies can’t bring themselves to do anything about it.
As far as directing the economy in a more pro-family direction, there are recommendations about allowing working parents to have more flexible hours and changing the tax code. For some reason the agenda also includes ideas about labor unions, universal basic income, and licensing laws. This is probably the weakest aspect of the agenda since it falls short of providing meaningful financial assistance to families and dilutes the recommendations with unrelated Republican priorities. Some of us would’ve liked to see more policies like those of Victor Orban in Hungary, which give cold hard cash and tax credits to couples who marry and have children.
However, taken altogether, the Family Policy Agenda is a great first step to helping families, mainly in giving purpose to current policies that mostly seem reactive. It addresses many of the challenges constraining parents and threatening children. Even if many of these points should be common sense to anyone, they have been mostly forgotten by elected officials on both the right and the left. Now, they just have to put their money with their mouth is and go even further.
Of course, even if Republicans somehow succeed in retaking control of the federal government and actually enact these policies, there’s still much more progress on the cultural front that needs to happen. It’s not enough to clear away some of the obstacles that hamper families; our whole idea of parents needs to change. Instead of treating parents as a cumbersome subpopulation in need of government handouts and regulations, they deserve to be recognized as necessary, and indeed heroic, members of society. Parents sacrifice so much of themselves for a greater cause: bringing up the next generation.
More than material support, mothers and fathers need to be honored. When they are taken for granted, as they have been for the past few decades, fewer families are formed, and the ones that exist eventually break down. All too often, parenting is seen as a thankless task that prevents adults from having fulfilling lives of self-indulgence, social activism, and shameless narcissism.
Whatever the cost, this whole dynamic must be reversed. A pro-life outlook should not only be a matter of sustainability and long-term benefits — which it is. At its heart, it’s about promoting the good, both for the individual and the community.