No Mother’s Day for You

  To send your kids to Rodeph Sholom, a prestigious day school on Manhattan's Upper West Side, you'll need an extra $20,000 a year and a high tolerance for politically correct nonsense. In a letter that arrived just in time for Mother's Day, parents were told that "after much thought and discussion," Rodeph Sholom "will not be celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day." Why not? As a school director explained, "these holidays are not needed to enhance our writing and arts programs." Well, by that standard, no holiday is needed. But if you think something's missing here, you're right. The letter goes on to say, "families are changing . . . there may be two fathers, two mothers, the mother may not have custody, it could be a grandmother." Thus, "[our school has] many different family makeups." And that requires "[recognizing] the emotional well-being of all the children." Celebrating Mother and Father's Day "may not be a positive experience for all children." In other words, a kid with two mommies or two daddies might feel bad if other kids are drawing their mom a picture or making their dad a pen holder. Well, as you might expect, the decision didn't go down well with every parent. One mother called the decision "politically correct" and "inappropriate." She wondered whether "there are ways of showing sensitivity to the needs of children in unusual situations that don't require undermining traditional family structures." Well of course there are, but the problem is that, for the people making this policy, there's nothing "unusual" about the situations she's referring to. What happened at Rodeph Sholom is only the most recent expression of what our culture seems to believe about the family: that no arrangement should be considered normative, and families can take on an infinite number of forms to suit the needs and desires of the parties involved. It's not just a matter of recognizing that some children will be raised in single-parent homes or by grandparents. The authors of this policy are saying, in effect, that no one arrangement is better than any other for children. This is utter nonsense. As Jennifer Roback Morse reminds us in her new book, Love and Economics, by every reasonable measure, living in an intact two- parent home is best for children. So why pretend otherwise? Because, as Morse says, this pretense fits so nicely with our culture's exaltation of personal autonomy as the value that shapes every decision we make. Dropping the pretense would put us in danger of acknowledging an unpleasant truth: that we don't love our children as much as we say we do -- certainly not enough to let them get in the way of our personal desires. If we really valued the "emotional well-being" of our kids, we would be working to strengthen intact two- parent families, instead of banning Mother's Day. We'd worry less about providing "positive experiences" and more about putting our kids' needs first. But we don't. Instead, some people will go to any length to keep the subject from coming up. Anything to keep them and us from realizing that it's their bad choices, not our holidays, that are the reasons they feel so bad. For further reference: Morse, Jennifer Roback. Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work. Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 2001.  


Chuck Colson


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