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Give Me Those Old Time Family Values

Glenn Reynolds, who is more libertarian leaning than most of your typical “values voter” types, has a post up about the bleak reality of single parent households.

A read through the whole report points to the unavoidable conclusion that a major goal of social policy has to be the formation of two-parent households.

This shouldn’t involve—as the occasional dorky pastor type or culture warrior might imagine—giving chastity and abstinence lessons to teens. Such lessons aren’t a bad thing necessarily; it’s just that over the centuries this kind of influence appears to be, well, limited.

One thing about having genealogy as a hobby is that it gives you a better perspective on past morals of everyday people than you’ll get from, say, reading books (mostly written by elites). While there was no doubt higher expectations on both men and women in morally strict times, such as the Victorian and Edwardian eras, there were without a doubt plenty of unmarried people getting it on. My own great-grandmother, the only one I remember (she died when I was 8), does not have 9 months between her parents marriage and her birthdate in 1900.

I think there was probably a good bit of resignation that young people were going to do what young people are prone to do, but there was a relatively non-negotiable expectation that if you knocked a girl up, you married her. I have more than a few ancestors who ended up married that way.

11 Responses to “Give Me Those Old Time Family Values”

  1. RAH says:

    Intact families are better are a no brainer. I have been amazed that so many women decide to have child before they decide to marry the father. They are more scared of the commitment to the man than the 20 year commitment to the child.

    I blame the culture that pushes permissiveness and feminism that disparages men.

  2. harp1034 says:

    It should still be that way. Sad to say it is not. You want her son? She is all yours. Now you will have to listen to her mouth every day for the rest of your life.

  3. RAH says:

    Remember the statement defining deviancy downward about the amount illegitment children in the black community

    It was known then and that simple fact has not changed despite people illusions.

    Married people have more resources , The children do better and they live longer.

    It is a culture of selfishness that placed parents desires above morality and children that have lead to this .

  4. Johannes Paulsen says:

    You know what? We might as well bring back shaming of stuff like this. That open, liberal society in which we allowed people to live lifestyles that we thought wrong-headed has collapsed in favor of one in which shaming is only allowed (nay, encouraged) if you are a member of the academic or political elite.

    There sure doesn’t seem to be any percentage in us steering clear of it anymore.

    [/cynical_griping]

  5. aerodawg says:

    I think the most pernicious aspects of the all encompassing welfare state is that it made single parenthood much more viable. Who needs to put up the difficulties of a spouse when Uncle Sam can provide the same resources without any hassle?

    That and making single parents into these twisted “heroes.” The only way you’re a single parent hero is if your spouse dies and you still keep your $^#& together….

  6. Whetherman says:

    An old guy who was a grown man at the turn of the last century once told me there was a popular saying that “The second child takes nine months; the first one can come any time.” Also, that in many families the youngest siblings were actually the children of the oldest siblings.

    My own grandparents were married in May, and my oldest uncle was born before the end of that year.

    If you think our own country is bad, now, check out statistics for countries like England and Ireland; they’ve been statistically worse than we are, for years, and have less of a race factor to blame part of it on.

    Speaking of statistics, I would seriously question whether family statistics for the lowest economic classes were ever accurate.

  7. Roger Wilson says:

    Seems to me I read somewhere that in queen Vic’s time it was OK for the men to mess around and if affluent enough have a mistress. But the woman was expected to stay at home, hold tea parties with other women and have babies with her spouse.

  8. Will says:

    IIRC, prior to “the pill”, it was calculated that approx half of brides were pregnant at the wedding.

    Also, researchers looking at DNA and blood types records found that about 20% of children of marriages were not fathered by the husband.

  9. Bram says:

    Not going to happen. The Left loves single parents. The Mom ends up wedded to the State. The kids end up learning everything the know (and nothing the shouldn’t know) from State schools.

  10. Alpheus says:

    I like to think of myself as a conservative libertarian: I’m a conservative, both because I don’t think that society should change suddenly and recklessly, and also because I believe (both religiously, and as I see how society best functions in general) that society functions best when family structure is held in high esteem. I’m a libertarian, however, in the sense that I don’t believe that the State should have a role in encouraging good social behavior; to this extent, I’m very anarcho-capitalist.

    Indeed, I would go so far as to say that, while the ideal is to be chaste before marriage, and then have total fidelity once married, in practice, humans make mistakes. When those mistakes are made, however, the best corrective actions *should* involve intact families. While children may have been conceived out of wedlock, between being born into marriage or becoming the younger “siblings”, or were given to other families, they nonetheless grew up in intact families.

    To the extent that our society doesn’t support such things today makes raising a good generation harder; to the extent that many State policies actively undermine well-structured families, makes the State itself complicit in the destruction of the family…and this offends both my libertarian and my conservative outlooks!

  11. JK Brown says:

    A few years ago, I came across a book published in the first decade of the 1700s on sex in America, Massachusetts more precisely. I do remember chuckling when I read they primary sources were church records. I now know, that up until about that time, all matters of sex and family were matters for the church, not the state. It was quite the scandal among traditionalist (especially Catholics) when a Boston civil court granted Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband in 1643.

    Anyway, the most oft entry in the church records of the late 17th century was the report of a young couple confessing to fornication shortly after being wed. One had the impression the young wife held exhibit A of their transgression in her arms.

    I don’t remember any entries on the fate of a young woman whose suitor proved a scoundrel who escaped before wedding her.

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