Family Mainstreaming – Guidelines for a Family Policy of the Future.

Every successful company has a mission statement and quality standards as a basis for its development. In the same way, Family also needs a clear Vision based on Moral Values and Standards as a necessary basis for a healthy development.

What is the current understanding of Family? The Family Report 2009 states: „Family is culturally specific, discursively shaped and communicatively produced by different actors (e.g. political parties, ideological groups, denominations, sciences) and has to be recreated again and again„.  In other words, everyone interprets family for him/herself and defines what family is. There is no universally valid model, no commonly shared values and standards. This lack of a guiding principle, and thus the lack of unifying values, is one of the main reasons why so many marriages and families fall apart.

The Family, as Martin Luther put it, is a „School of Love“. Any successful school has clear norms and standards. To build a successful and stable family, we need to understand the dynamics of a well-functioning family. If family is the elementary school of moral and social development, than it needs, in order to function well, high moral and ethical standards and norms.

Politicians view the Family only as an organisational unit. So, an efficient  management of economic resources and time becomes the measurement for success. Therefore, politicians consider the access to the resource of time as being the important indicator of wealth in modern society and in the quality of life of families. Hence, they believe, that families differ greatly in relation to the abundance of the time they have, and this has considerable influence both on their quality of life as well as a family’s satisfaction. That view of the Family however is a very superficial view. No consideration is given to the quality of the family relationships.

Most politicians define family primarily as a „responsible“ community between parents and children. Most often it is irresponsibility and unfulfilled promises of family members that cause the family problems. Having children is recommended only after appropriate financial security. Having financial security and children however is no indicator for the quality of the relationships and a responsible lifestyle of the Parents. There is a great deal of scepticism about marriage and about a „normal“ family with parents and (several) children. This has led, intentionally or unintentionally to relationships, that are non-committal, semi-committal and cautious about bonding.  The core of a family however, is formed by binding relationships. The quality of the relationship of the parents determines the wellbeing of the family and the moral development of the children. This is the decisive factor, for whether the family becomes a place of happiness and security, or becomes a place of conflict and disintegrates.

Family policy aims to create a legal, social and economic framework. Supportive measures serve so that families can develop well and lead a pleasant family life. However, family policy can only contribute to the external conditions; the internal conditions of family relationships must be created by the couples and their children themselves.

Family Politicians see there field of action in supporting the socialization of the child. Providing public childcare is therefore an important measure. The main argument in favour of public childcare is to relieve parents of their child-rearing responsibilities so that they can concentrate fully on their careers. What they more or less ignore is the role of parents for the socialisation of the child for good or for bad. The first place of socialization for a child is the family and the parents are the first reference persons for the child. They are the immediate role model, the gateway to the world. Infant and toddler research leaves no doubt about the importance of parental influence in the first years of life for the further and fundamental development of the child. If parents want to take care of their child themselves, this should not only be a choice, but should actually be made possible. Which supportive conditions are good for the overall human development and therefore worthy of support is, however, controversial. This can be seen in the question of early education and child care.

The Family Forum takes a critical view of the care of young children by state institutions, because politicians not only distrust parents, but do almost nothing to strengthen the role of parents and parental skills. Strengthening the moral role and authority of parents and their ability to raise their children, should be a policy concern. Training parents for this important task of rearing a child – that’s where family policy has been failing for decades. Politicians not only distrust parents, but they almost do nothing to strengthen parenting skills of parents. Policymakers must think about how to better support parents, better promote parenting skills, so that their children become good citizens and successful as future parents. Strengthening Family Values is not only a political question of what is possible, but a question of what is necessary for the development and well-being of families.

In modern education, the independent and emancipated person is the goal. This goal should be expanded with regard to the future role of our children as parents and those responsible for their own family business. The guiding principle of future pedagogy must be the responsible and relational person.

Marriage and Family today are considered to be a choice. When Marriage and Family are considered a Chance and a Blessing, than the family life will more likely be considered as an Enrichment, than a Burden. Marriage and Family then become that place where everyone can develop and unfold his or her total personality. It becomes a place of self-realization, a place of encounter, a school of life and love.

Family policy should start to trust parents more. The power of trust will strengthen and motivate the family members to invest in their family-relationships and the wellbeing and happiness of all family members

What our society needs, are positive examples of strong and functioning families. Parenthood and families must therefore be upgraded and also appreciated for the work they do for society. Only strong, healthy and harmonious families are the guarantee for a good and secure future.