The Value of Family: A Blueprint for the 21st Centuryby Ruth Westheimer, Ben Yagoda, Dr Ruth Westheimer
The challenge is great. Despite all the talk about "family values", the family is besieged. The percentage of children living below the poverty line rose 49 percent from 1973 to 1992; American children are less likely to be immunized than those of any other developed nation; and many corporations still lag behind in areas such as maternity leave, while rewarding
The challenge is great. Despite all the talk about "family values", the family is besieged. The percentage of children living below the poverty line rose 49 percent from 1973 to 1992; American children are less likely to be immunized than those of any other developed nation; and many corporations still lag behind in areas such as maternity leave, while rewarding workers for long hours away from home. Moreover, the skyrocketing divorce rate and boom in the out-of-wedlock birth rate has relegated the "traditional family" to the realm of myth. Against this grim backdrop, Dr. Westheimer sees tremendous hope. She argues that the family is actually redefining itself in ways that will become more important - and more accepted - in the 21st Century. She points to changes in social attitudes and corporate and governmental policies that will allow for more unconventional but functioning family units, such as "step-" or "blended" families, and families headed by a gay single parent or couple. In addition, she sees generations pulling together for the sake of today's children, as more and more grandparents become active in their grandchildren's lives. In this book, help is available. Compiling an exhaustive list of family programs, resources, and self-help groups around the country and on the Internet, Dr. Westheimer tells parents how to get help for themselves and their children. And, sternly taking issue with new governmental legislation that claims to be "pro-family", she points our leaders in a bold new direction.
Best known as the dispenser of honest advice on sex (Heavenly Sex, 1995, etc.) and relationships between men and women, Dr. Ruth and her coauthor Yagoda (Will Rogers, 1993) examine the families that grow out of those relationships. She agrees wholeheartedly that the American family is not what it was, but she sees in a more optimistic light than many observers the new networks of blended families, extended families, families that include gay couples or are headed by single mothers or fathers. Putting a positive spin on virtually every aspect of the family values debate, from orphanages (they foster a "tremendous sense of belonging") to divorce (it has "created a kind of new extended family"), Westheimer also refuses to let "declining family values" take the blame for such events as the Los Angeles riots and the high teenage birth rate. She notes sensibly that falling employment, the rising cost of living, and other social factors (like women in the workplace) are forcing families to adapt. She argues that families could use a lot more help from government and business, and offers resources (including Internet addresses) likely to be of help to contemporary families. What gives this volume impact is the breadth of Dr. Ruth's personal experience (she lived in group homes, became pregnant out of wedlock, married, divorced her husband, and supported her daughter as a single mother) and the succinct and sensible marshalling of material.
Dr. Ruth's advice on sex has helped create new ideas about relationships; this feisty work may help stiffen the spines of the inventive men and women who are now trying to redefine the American family.
- Grand Central Publishing
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)
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