Family values

From Academic Kids

This article discusses "family values" as a moral concept. For the rock music tour, see Family Values Tour.

Family values are a set of social norms for defining a family, its acceptable structure, and the perceived proper roles of its members. Most often, the term connotes a conservative ideology that supports sexual morality and traditional gender roles, and that opposes homosexual relationships, same-sex marriage, and abortion. The term may also refer to endorsing censorship of phenomena in the media (such as many forms of nudity, profanity, sexuality, and violence) which children might view.

While the term family values appears most often in statements by the Christian right, efforts have recently emerged to appropriate (or re-appropriate) the word by commentators on the political left, who favor what they see as a more inclusive historical definition of family values, including values in support of the family as a household unit of any kind.


Historical perspective

Family values do not remain fixed and rigid; they change in response to economic, political, and cultural developments. They vary from country to country, and even between different households. Prior to the 20th century, for example, the idea of a married woman seeking status and recognition independent of her husband would have constituted a breach of family values, as society then expected women to focus exclusively on household duties. As societies have shifted economically from agriculture to industry, extended families have given way to nuclear families.

Family values in conservative U.S. politics

Since 1980 the Republican party has used the issue of family values to attract socially conservative voters, especially those in the South and Middle America. The use of "family values" as a term became widespread after a 1992 speech by Vice President Dan Quayle that attributed the Los Angeles riots to a breakdown of family values. It remains a core issue for the party, playing a significant role in President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. To a lesser extent, the Democratic Party has also used the idea of family values to attract social conservatives to its own ranks.

While family values remains a rather vague concept, social conservatives usually understand the term to include some combination of the following principles:

  • The belief that marriage should involve one man and one woman.
  • The belief that two-parent families perform better than single parent families in raising children (although condemnation of divorce is not universal).
  • The belief that parents should take responsibility for and have control over their children's education.
  • The belief that laws, public education, and popular media should promote (or at least act compatibly with) Christian morality
  • Rejection of homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation, sometimes extended to include disapproval of modes of behavior or appearance deemed inappropriate to a person's gender.
  • Rejection of abortion, and sometimes contraception as well.
  • Stricter discipline of children, including corporal punishment.

Organizations that promote conservative family values

See also


  • Bennett, William J., ed. The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0671683063.

External links


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