Recently I saw a TV program on the subject of the increase of violence among young people. A few days later I came across an article in a secular paper on the same subject. Both the TV program and the article suggested reasons for this sad phenomenon and the common denominator seemed to be the breakdown of the family. This gave me the idea of writing about the importance of the family for the good, and even the survival of society.

There are innumerable statements in Church documents on the family and its importance, but I think perhaps it is more effective to confine myself to the expressed opinions of “non religious” experts, such as university professors and scientists, who write from what would be termed the “practical” point of view. But, first of all, let’s hear what the radical feminists have to say on the subject.

This is what Sheila Cronin, a U.S. radical feminist, thinks of marriage: “Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women’s movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.” And here is a quote from the Declaration of Feminism, November 1971: “Marriage has existed for the benefit of men. It has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women. We must destroy it. The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men. All history must be rewritten, in terms of the oppression of women. We must go back to the ancient female religions like witchcraft.”

Gloria Steinem writes, “By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential and not in God.” And just listen to this one: “The most merciful thing a large family can do to one of its infant members is to kill it.” So said Margaret Sanger (1883-1966), founder of the American Birth Control League, direct ancestor of the largest abortion provider in the U.S., Planned Parenthood.

Let’s hear from the other side of the fence – from people who see the family as the saviour of society, Doctor Wilder Penfield, former president of the Vanier Institute for the Family, asks, “Is the family important for society?” He answers his question in these words: ”There never has been and there never will be a durable society based on any other system than the union of man and woman and child and on fidelity to that union. Should the family fail, society and civilization are doomed.” There is a family life expert in the U.S. named Dr. Ross Campbell. He has written a book entitled How to Really Love Your Child. In it, he says that parents are very discouraged today because they feel that no matter how hard they try to raise their children well, the influence of others seems to override their efforts. Dr. Campbell believes that the opposite is true. He says that every study he has read indicates that the family wins hand down. Despite all the distractions, he is convinced that the family has the greatest overall influence. The home, he says, “has the upper hand in determining how stable and secure the child will be, how affectionate or aloof he or she be.”

Every study I have read on the family as the foundation of society stresses the paramount influence of the mother. Many readers will be familiar with The Feminist Takeover by Betty Steele. Dr. Charles Fell former Chancellor of McMaster University, wrote the foreword. In it he says “If I were to sum up the book in a few words I would say, ‘The mother is the heart of the family and consequently the heart of society’.” That is a powerful statement but it’s by no means new. We have all heard the old adage, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” In the past, the hand that rocked the cradle was invariably the mother. It was not necessary to mention her because it was taken for granted. But, is that true today with the introduction of baby-sitting almost as a profession?

The hand that rocks the cradle is more often that of a teenage babysitter. What is more serious, that of a professional daycare worker. It is really impossible to find words to express the deleterious effect of daycare on the family and consequently on society? Again I must defer to the social experts, even though my convictions on the subject are very strong. Dr. Donald Rinsley is a Clinical Professor at the Kansas School of Medicine. He has written a book entitled, A Child Psychiatrist Looks at Day Care. The following are some relevant quotes: “During the first three or four years of life, the child undergoes an enormous expansion of intellectual, emotional and neuromuscular development. From the very beginning of life outside the mother’s body the infant seeks to relate to the bond with the mother by means of reflex actions of contact. The bonding relationship is essential for the later development of the child’s capacity to form human relationships, thereby becoming a socialized human being.” Dr. Rinsley then speaks of the importance of the father’s relationship with the child. But, he says, “While others may at times replace the mother, there is evidence that the mother-infant bond, which actually begins to form during pregnancy, is unique and cannot be fully substituted for by even the most sensitive and caring surrogate mother-figures.” Men, he says, can carry out maternal functions, but their effect on the child is by no means comparable to that of the mother. He continues: “It is, then, the solid, healthy, intact family which will ensure the future of mankind.”