Certainly the traditional American family is under siege and the challenges for young parents have never been greater. Never before in the history of this country has there been a lower probability that a child of any race will grow up in a family with a father and mother present. We now approach, as a nation, one out of every three babies being born out of wedlock. Can we imagine a society, which Americans can anticipate, in which a large percentage of its working adults have no memory of growing up in a home with a father and mother?
For families that are intact, the percentage with both parents working outside the home is unprecedented. It seems reasonable to expect that this percentage will continue to grow. So as fathers and mothers go to work every day to meet the economic challenges for their families, the time and energy they have available for giving quality time and attention to their children has got to diminish in some way.
In all likelihood, while these parents are at work, their children will attend one of our nation's public schools, where the only forbidden is to suggest to a child that there are any absolute rights or wrongs in this world. It is far more likely the child will be taught the virtues of not being judgmental, of tolerance, and the absence of any absolutes.
Meanwhile, the miracle of technology provides a major new source of competition for parents for the attention of their children. Every day, children have new channels for getting information. The Internet not only grows and gets faster, but now is available through wireless devices. Hundreds of channels of TV are pumped into homes via cable and satellite. It has never been simpler or cheaper to copy information from the Internet, TV or radio and forward on to others.
The fruits we harvest today from freedom and technology are great. But I believe we need to re-establish a sense of responsibility commensurate with the freedom and power individuals now possess. Parenting means transmitting. Children hear from parents what those parents heard from theirs.
There are sources of truth other than R&D laboratories. Periods in our history when we thought our political and economic apparatus could work independently of religious and moral truths have not been our great moments. This is a time for getting back in touch.