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Disability Action Center NW

By Todd DeVries

Idaho’s families require actions, not words.

Last week, the Idaho House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution calling for the creation of a Traditional Family Values Month. Passing this resolution is akin to lamenting the departure of the horse years after someone left the barn door open.

Decades of neglect and bad social policy have more to do with the difficulties families experience rather than a perceived lack of “traditional values.” The resolution decries the decline of two-parent households, noting that, in 1960, approximately 77.5% of children grew up with both parents at home. By 2021, this number fell to 37%. Worse, the resolution couches its rationale in religious and moral language that invalidates and denigrates parents who do not meet their very limited model.

Not everyone in our diverse society subscribes to or believes in their narrow and paternalistic religious worldview. Not everyone desires to live in a so-called traditional family structure. The resolution fails to consider education, racial/ethnic or sociocultural factors influencing family composition.

Truly supporting families requires meaningful social change.

In Idaho Falls, there are LGBTQIA+ parents raising healthy and well-adjusted children. In Bonneville County, there are single grandparents raising a second generation of children who need a safe and loving home. In eastern Idaho, there are parents struggling to balance custody, living arrangements and blended families while being loving and supportive, no matter where the children originate from.

All these families deserve both words of thanks and social policies to make parenting easier.

To quote a popular musical: “Do not talk of love, show me. Show me now!” We no longer live in a Beaver Cleaver world, where Father knows best and Mom is in the kitchen baking cookies.

And, in truth, what we call the “traditional” family was only applicable through social engineering. And only lived by people of a certain economic class. For most of human history, family units have not been what our state Legislature describes as “traditional.”

We need legislation that supports all families, not lip service to an idealized and romanticized past.