Conservatives, in particular, need to give up the idea that the fifties – the era of “Leave it to Beaver” – will ever come back. Too many factors, such as women’s growing role in the workplace and the sexual revolution, have altered reality permanently. Only 45 percent of children live in intact married families, and those who cherish the institution of families have little choice other than to embrace other models, including blended families, single-parent households, as well as same-sex parent households.
Families today, notes demographer Wolfgang Lutz, struggle in an environment dominated by adults and their concerns. Many young grow up without siblings, cousins and the extended family network so critical to humans for much of our history as a species. Religion, which historically has supported families, has declined in most high-income countries, including, to a lesser extent, the United States, notes the Pew Foundation.
Secularization generally works against child-raising. Religious people – Orthodox Jews, practicing Muslims, evangelicals and Mormons – have many more children than their more secular brethren. As author Eric Kauffman puts it, secularism appears to fail to “inspire the commitment to generations past and sacrifices for those yet to come.”