Showing posts with label traditional nuclear family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label traditional nuclear family. Show all posts

Friday, August 21, 2020

Are humans more like water buffaloes or crocodiles? Let's consult Family Studies professor Bethany Letiecq

Years ago, while visiting Uganda, I took a boat up the Nile River to its source. Along the way, I saw a group of crocodiles sunning on the riverbank. They were nearly identical in size--all about 12 feet long.

My guide told me that one never sees large crocodiles and small crocodiles together because the big ones eat the little ones. "And," the guide added, "crocodiles will eat their young."

I remember thinking to myself: "God, why did you make crocodiles--or black mamba snakes, for that matter? If I ever get to heaven, I'll ask God to explain himself.

Later in the day, I hired another guide to show me some lions living in the wild. My hotel ran a guide service, but the touring vehicles were restricted to the roads. My guide, however, was an official lion researcher, and he could drive wherever he wanted.

I expected my guide to show up in a Robert-Mitchum-style safari hat and driving an ancient British Landrover. But he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and he drove a Toyota Corolla.

Nevertheless, the guide could indeed drive wherever he liked, and we were soon motoring over the savannah with no thought about whether or not we were on a road. Sweet!

Soon we came upon a large herd of water buffalos, who looked up alertly from their grazing. I noticed that the adult buffalos began putting themselves between our Toyota and their calves. My guide explained that water buffalos are very protective of their young. When lions are about, the water buffalos make a circle around their calves and can usually protect them from lions or other large prey.

I was deeply impressed by the water buffalo's natural disposition to protect their offspring, and I asked myself this question: "Are humans more like water buffalos or like crocodiles?

I think the jury is still out on that question, but perhaps we should consult an expert, someone like Profesor Bethany Letiecq, a family studies researcher at George Mason University.

Professor Letiecq criticizes the traditional nuclear family because it privileges its members over other family types. Thus, she argues:
Family privilege recognizes that some families are the beneficiaries of unearned or unacknowledged advantages in our society simply based on how they are configured. For example, our society values and privileges heterosexual marriages over other relationships, including couples who live together, raise children together, and choose not to marry.
I don't think Professor Letiecq believes the traditional nuclear family is intrinsically evil, but she does say it is "patriarchal and hegemonic at its base."  She maintains that marriage "was designed by White, heterosexual men to maintain their power and social-economic dominance and control over the 'other.'" So--hardly an endorsement of the Ozzie-and-Harriet marriage model.

Unlike Professor Letiecq, I am not a family studies researcher, but I know a lot about dysfunctional families. I grew up in one, and I've seen the evil effects of divorce on children.  I feel quite sure that children need the love and protection of two committed adults to grow up to be happy, healthy, and productive human beings. And although there are many models for raising children, I don't believe there is a better one than the family, which has been a venerated institution for thousands of years.

Thus, in my view, anyone who attempts to disrupt or disparage the traditional nuclear family is not advancing happiness and wellbeing in our society. On the contrary,  when it comes to the welfare of children, people who undermine the traditional family are less like water buffalos and more like crocodiles.

Baby crocodiles: tasty appetizers for Mom and Pop