On The Nuclear Family

Anybody silly enough to believe it is a new thing that young people are confused in a couple of significant ways need only really peruse various histories with an open mind to decide otherwise.

My generation had their own issues of confusion, and they didn’t look so very different in origin than the ones currently being displayed.

So the first thing to do is to talk about the origin(s) of the confusion.

The first of these is a failure to understand that it is highly likely one is the first to come up with a given idea. And again, this is not something that began recently to be an issue. My generation and those before mine had similar illusions.

The second is, having made the first mistake, being unaware of the results of those who also had the idea and attempted, successfully or unsuccessfully, to implement that idea or those ideas.

By way of example, I saw some folks recently discussing the “evil” that is the nuclear family. To be fair, they less couched it as evil and more insisted that the idea was “outmoded in the modern day,” and “a mechanism of the (evil) capitalists used to control others.”

The conversation centered though, essentially around the idea of groups of friends coming together and sharing resources between and among them in such a way that all could and would survive in relative comfort.

Anybody reading this and not thinking “from each according his ability, to each according to his need,” may want to take a serious look at history. Does the afore-quoted verbal construct sound appealing to you? Perhaps it would seem less so if you were made aware that it was the veritable paragon of virtue upon which literally millions of people were dispatched to their not-nearly-pretty untimely ends.

You see, that statement was and remains one of the base tenets of Communism. Under the constructs that supposedly embodied those basic ideals in multiple countries and multiple cultures, millions perished in squalor, poverty and of starvation.

Did it truly happen as a result of Communism? I would argue that such a statement is not entirely accurate. Rather, the concept of Communism left a “power vacuum” that was filled by ready and ruthless men. Those men then used the idea and ideal of Communism to keep the masses in line when violence and threats failed (which frankly was not very often). The point is, true Communism is pretty close to anarchy. So much so that men of the right (or more properly wrong) bent were pretty easily able to take advantage of all those well-meaning people who truly thought the almost-government-less idea was a good one.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the only ending for such an idea, and it is likely the worst. You see, here in the United States, we had a generation out of which large numbers of folks tried something a little more “localized.”

The generation commonly referred to as “hippies” are those about whom I am speaking here. They were somewhat successful for a time, but it pretty much never lasted. The reasons were many. Funnily, one of the largest was that the people in question “grew apart.” They just could not continue to be together. Sometimes because of disagreements, sometimes because of abuse, and I’m sure there were a good many more reasons.

Here’s the thing though, the idea that the nuclear family is, or could ever be “outmoded” has very little to do with the existence communes or Communism. Allow me to take a second to explain why.

It’s hard to argue that, whether planned or unplanned, sexual activity between males and females of the species can have a possible outcome of pregnancy. Obviously, pregnancy carried to its usual end will more often than not, result in childbirth.

I’m sure nobody was surprised at my saying this unless they are rather lacking in knowledge about the results of female intimacy with males (particularly that which is sexual in nature).

Where one can make arguments to the effect that a person is not responsible for the results of their actions, I’m pretty sure more folks than not would argue to the contrary in most circumstances. This includes bringing babies into the world. And it should be well understood that I’m not just talking about mothers here either. The man who partook of the sexual relationship is equally responsible when the ultimate outcome is the coming into this world of a child.

You can try and make others responsible, but in truth—particularly if the involved parties are adults—the two who caused the child to come into existence are the most obviously responsible more often than not.

Et voila! You have defined the “nuclear family.” The nuclear family was not born out of some outlandish, other-worldly or crazed imagining of a capitalist overlord, seeking to find yet another mechanism for control of his or her unwitting victims. The nuclear family was and is a pragmatic mechanism by which two adults deal with the care of those children they bring into the world.

In scant few societies has it ever worked any other way. One can argue for a different approach having been the norm in places like ancient Sparta, and I’m sure others can be found. In most countries, civilizations and cultures though, the biggest question was “How long are parents responsible to bring up their children.”

Interestingly, here in the United States, that number has been raised to the point where obviously adult children are still being supported financially and cared for by their aging parents.

My great great grandfather, for whom my youngest son was named, left home at a scant 14 years of age. I started my first job at around the same time of life, and left home for good and all at nineteen. No sibling in my generation was home even for a limited time past the age of thirty (I would venture to say twenty-five, but I’m not perfectly sure). The point being, the age has been steadily rising.

One more thought. Very few people aged less than twenty five or thirty think a great deal about who will be building houses, fixing broken plumbing or paving roads when they’re too old to be able to, or unwilling to do it. The fact is, having children is not at all a bad thing. Nobody says you have to create your own population explosion, but having people around to do the things you no longer want to or can do is not a bad plan.

Remember, as we get older, many of us become less and less able to even care for ourselves, much less do for others the things they want or need done.

Okay, yet again I have manage to exceed my self imposed limit. That being the case, allow me to wish you a wonderful day (or night, as the case may be), and thank you for reading.

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