There’s lots to admire about traditional family values, but they’re under siege.
There’s lots to admire about traditional family values, but they’re under siege.

Decent family values are under attack

"IF it feels good, do it" has become the mantra of modern life where the everyday means you can have whatever you want the minute you decide on it.

It is so hopelessly old-fashioned to carve a childhood, let alone an adult life, from what used to be the bedrock of society.

Remember them, those traditional values of good character, sacrifice, hard work and self-sufficiency? And then there's the belief that good things come from a life lived with honesty, loyalty and diligence.

Instead, this week we're told children should be encouraged to utter profanities, a crime when I was a kid, because social engineers looking for a cause, any cause, reckon it enhances "development".

Meanwhile a former deputy PM does a paid interview with his mistress and together they bathe their love child for the TV cameras, no matter that his wife and four daughters are not part of this touching tableaux.

The latest missive from the world of dating says more than 3000 Sydneysiders have flexed the plastic and signed up to an app which advertises open relationships.

Barnaby Joyce bathes his newborn son Sebastian on his paid interview on Seven’s Sunday Night program. (Pic: Channel 7)
Barnaby Joyce bathes his newborn son Sebastian on his paid interview on Seven’s Sunday Night program. (Pic: Channel 7)

And another chunk of research says wives in 2018 are more willing to 'turn a blind eye' to single lapses in their husband's fidelity because monogamy, well, that belongs in the too-hard basket.

If contemporary moral development has not yet hit the buffers, it is veering perilously close.

That's not grandma talking out of turn either. It's not trite or contrived to link these recent bullet holes in our family armour.

If you're a parent trying to help your kids process life and develop a moral compass, then your job is getting harder.

A healthy society surely depends on instilling ethical values in our youth. And by this I mean civility, diplomacy and old fashioned can't-beat-them manners.

If you have self-respect, you respect others. Working on your character is vital so that you pay attention to the qualities and values which shape your thoughts and actions.

Our disenchantment with politics, education and immigration, to name only a few issues, means many seem to turn their backs on society and its traditions, its institutions.

So this is how we arrive at a situation where a senior politician like Barnaby Joyce trades on family values but demonstrates few.

It used to be that families stayed together to survive. Divorce is now is entirely unremarkable and that is something to mourn, not a light bulb moment for monetising infidelity.

Meanwhile an expert identifying as an artificial intelligence researcher says cursing in front of your kids, and them turning the air blue, is good for them.

"Swearing is part of children's social development," said neurologist Emma Byrne this week, who coincidently has a book to sell.

"We try to keep strong language away from kids until they know how to use it effectively… I strongly argue that we should revise this attitude.

"Learning how to use swearing effectively, with the support of empathetic adults, is far better than trying to ban children from using such language."

We should be teaching kids respect, not how to swear.
We should be teaching kids respect, not how to swear.

So if you are summoned to the principal's office because your mini me has told her teacher to F off because maths is a load of F-ing rubbish, see how far you go in giving them a "well done darling" high five.

Byrne added: "In researching and writing about swearing I'm not attempting to justify rudeness and aggression. Not at all. I certainly wouldn't want profanities to become commonplace: swearing needs to maintain its emotional impact to be effective.''

Horse and bolted is what I would suggest there.

Children have to "understand the emotions of people who are swearing", apparently. If we ban the C word during Sunday roast, then our sons and daughters will be denied the emotions behind these four-letter words.

Emotions, yes, that's what should rule parenting, not facts, thoughts, decency and actions.

Who are we to crush those pint-sized egos or stamp on their right to self-expression or suggest that a lesson in self-restraint or respect when it might offend?

Maybe we could even blame our teachers. After all didn't our mums say that people who use profanities only do so because of their unsophisticated grasp of language?

Children do not need to be taught to swear. They need to be taught correct use of grammar, spelling and punctuation among other life skills.

How about we teach them to steal too? If you want something just take it. Or to assault people? There's emotion behind those acts too.

Then there's the popular mindset that your success in life depends less on your choices and more on you being a victim of circumstance.

The annual Deloitte Millennial Survey recently found that this age demographic has little faith in political and business leaders to make positive changes with 63 per cent believing politicians have a negative impact on society.

Many young people live what I would describe as atomised existences with influencing relationships conducted via screen rather than in person. We do not want them to navigate these worlds bereft of a moral guide by their side.

Our attitudes to sex and relationships is different from our parents' and their parents', sure, so perhaps it is normal to expect our children's attitudes would change.

We can't stop globalisation but as parents we need to cherish our values culture so kids have some boundaries.

Our basic credibility is at stake if young people, tuned in to hypocrisy, think we are saying one thing while doing another.

As far as the importance of marriage goes - and no one gets on board the nuptials bus expecting to get divorced - the concept of 'For better, for worse' is hardly a new one is it?

According to a report from the UK, women are increasingly reject the idea of divorce - a 45 per cent drop in petitions since 1993 - to instead salvage a marriage as long as their 'red line' has not been compromised.

Back here the founder of play-the-field app PolyFina Bruce Alexander was quoted as saying: "There's a fear that polyamory, or open relationships, would be the death of monogamy. Certainly what I'm seeing is it can save a monogamous relationship."

If there's a dollar in it, that makes it OK then.

Family values used to be the foundation of everything, you and your relatives like links in a chain giving each other respect and stability.

Children are growing up believing that it is perfectly normal to use social media or the internet for answers rather than asking grandparents or other family members for help. Teens are lonely, thank you social media.

We don't have to accept the tears in the fabric of our society or decide that it's easier to join the crowd of discontent.

We can be true to ourselves and our traditional values, even though it may feel like we are swimming into an evolutionary tide.

I would like to think there is a lot of hope actually by observing children I know.

Their open faces and optimism for the future, while managing to maintain a healthy respect for their parents and their peers, tells me that all is not lost.

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