More family values talk

I probably should stop this because I'm going to wear this subject out. Anyway Ross has another post in this ongoing conversation around making families work. It's very very good. So good, that I want to think on it some before I reply. That said, two things need to be stated.

1.) I used the word artifice in reference to the nuclear family in one of my earlier posts. It read like I was claiming the nuclear family, itself, was artifice. I don't believe that one bit, and it wasn't what I was trying to convey. My point was that the nuclear family without the underlying values that make families work, is, like any family without those values, artifice. I make no claims against marriage, except in my own life. And I certainly make no claims against two-parent households. I'm the product of one, after all, and I'm participating in one now.

2.) I think Ross knows this, but it's important that you guys know this. While I differed with his characterization, in terms of familial confusion, I took no offense at it. I thought he was perfectly respectful, and crossed no lines. I disagreed, and do disagree, about how we talk about family and family values. But that really is about it.

Anyway, read his post. A sample:

...generalizations matter too. The "artifice" of the traditional family isn't just an artifice, and the values that social conservatives hold so dear - monogamy, marriage vows, the idea that every kid deserves a mother and a father in his life - don't just exist to make people in non-traditional families feel bad about themselves. In the aggregate, Dan Quayle was right. In the aggregate, marriage is better for kids than single parenthood. In the aggregate, marriage is better for men and women than long-term cohabitation. In the aggregate, divorce is bad news - for your finances, your health, and your children's long-term prospects. And in the aggregate, if you're concerned about income inequality or social mobility or the crime rate or just about any area of socioeconomic concern, then you should be at least moderately fretful about the long, slow decline of the American two-parent family - among blacks, whites, and Hispanics alike.

These aggregates don't capture the lived reality of millions of American lives, and they can easily become rote and hollow pieties. But they capture a pretty important reality nonetheless.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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