Posted: December 22, 2020 by Kelly Murphy-Redd
What does the family have to do with economic development? I will answer that question, but please bear with me for a moment.

During this, very different, Christmas season, it is even more important to value and cherish our families.

This is especially true in light of the attack on the family. Yes, the attack. An unfortunately-prominent activist group has published on their website, their goal of eliminating the “nuclear family.” This family unit has two parents and any number of children. Several years ago, someone wrote children should be raised by a “village.” The nuclear family, of course, in no way, reduces the positive impact of the extended family.

Many studies show the decline of the family in the U.S. among all ethnic groups. Statistics show that women-only households are more likely to live below the poverty line. In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that these types of families increased to 28 percent.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported in 1998 (researchers continue to cite) children from fatherless homes accounted for:
  • Suicide: 63 percent of youth suicides
  • Runaways: 90 percent of all homeless and runaway youths
  • Behavioral Disorders: 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders
  • High School Dropouts: 71 percent of all high school dropouts
  • Juvenile Detention Rates: 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
  • Substance Abuse: 75 percent of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers
  • Aggression: 75 percent of rapists motivated by displaced anger
One of the most destructive trends is in black families. The great writer Walter Williams, who, sadly, died this month, often wrote about the decline of the black family. He made the case that the lack of fathers in the black family, for many years has contributed greatly to the problems faced by that community. Williams was a professor at George Mason University.

Shelby Steele, Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution has also decried the decline of the black family as damaging the black community. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. These are only two of many black leaders today talking about this issue of family.

The family is where children learn how to treat people. Remember “The Golden Rule,” learning to share and saying please and thank you? Remember eating dinner with the whole family every night? Parents can teach their children to resolve conflict, and how to work. Children should learn responsibility and how their actions or inactions lead to good and bad results. Hopefully they learn to manage time and money. The family is supposed to be where dreams for the future and ambitions are developed and encouraged. The value of education is emphasized or not. Of course their moral compass is instilled by the family first. 
So, to answer the question about how family relates to economic development:

A huge part of economic development is the search for talent-employees. Many of the complaints we hear from employers are about the lack of “soft skills.” Many employees today are not punctual and don’t have a good work ethic or attitude towards hard work. The desire for immediate gratification and limited attention spans is prevalent. Respect is lacking and selfishness is prominent. Where do these traits come from? You know; the family.

That is not to say that aren’t single parents, grandparents, guardians, etc. doing a wonderful job at raising kids. There are. It’s just so much harder. Look at Dr. Ben Carson raised by a single mother who couldn’t read. Statistics show most children stand a better chance when there are two parents, but there are those bright shining lights that manage to overcome the extra challenges stemming from one-parent households.

This year, families have been forced to spend more time together. I hope that is the positive by-product of the pandemic. Learning to be together again and be more in touch with what is going on in our lives has been the chance to reset the family dynamic. We have had to pay more attention. We have been less busy and distracted. I hope everyone takes this opportunity to strengthen their families. It will pay dividends even more important than the relationship with economic development.

Let us treasure our families this Christmas. They are the most important thing is this world.