Family values

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Family values, sometimes referred to as Familial values, are traditional or cultural values (that is, values passed on from generation to generation within families) that pertain to the family's structure, function, roles, beliefs, attitudes, and ideals. In the social sciences, sociologists may use the term "traditional family" in order to refer specifically to the child-rearing environment that sociologists formerly called the norm. This "traditional family" involves a middle-class family with a breadwinner father and a homemaker mother, raising their biological children. Any deviation from this family model is considered a "nontraditional family". Nontraditional families, nevertheless, make up the majority of American households, as of now.[1]


According to, "family values" is defined as "the moral and ethical principles traditionally upheld and transmitted within a family, as honesty, loyalty, industry, and faith."[2]

According to Merriam-Webster, "family values" are "values especially of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society".[3]

According to, "family values" are "values held to be traditionally learned or reinforced within a family, such as those of high moral standards and discipline."[4]

In politics


The Family First Party originally contested the 2002 South Australian state election, where former Assemblies of God pastor Andrew Evans won one of the eleven seats in the 22-seat South Australian Legislative Council on 4 percent of the statewide vote. The party made their federal debut at the 2004 general election, electing Steve Fielding on 2 percent of the Victorian vote in the Australian Senate, out of six Victorian senate seats up for election. Both MPs were able to be elected with Australia's Single Transferable Vote and Group voting ticket system in the upper house. The party opposes abortion, euthanasia, harm reduction, gay adoptions, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for gay couples and gay civil unions It supports drug prevention, zero tolerance for law breaking, rehabilitation, and avoidance of all sexual behaviors it considers deviant.

In the 2007 Australian election, Family First came under fire for giving preferences in some areas to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian party that supports legalization of incest, gay marriage, and drug use.[5]

Great Britain

Family values was a recurrent theme in the Conservative government of John Major. His Back to Basics initiative became the subject of ridicule after the party was affected by a series of sleaze scandals. John Major himself, the architect of the policy, was subsequently found to have had an affair with Edwina Currie. Family Values have been revived by the current Conservative Party under David Cameron, being a recurring theme in his speeches on social responsibility and related policies, demonstrated by his Marriage Tax allowance policy which would provide tax breaks for married couples.

New Zealand

Family values politics reached their apex under the social conservative administration of the Third National Government (1975–84), widely criticised for its populist and social conservative views about abortion and homosexuality. Under the Fourth Labour Government (1984–90), homosexuality was decriminalised and abortion access became easier to obtain.

In the early 1990s, New Zealand reformed its electoral system, replacing the first-past-the-post electoral system with the Mixed Member Proportional system. This provided a particular impetus to the formation of separatist conservative Christian political parties, disgruntled at the Fourth National Government (1990–99), which seemed to embrace bipartisan social liberalism to offset Labour's earlier appeal to social liberal voters. Such parties tried to recruit conservative Christian voters to blunt social liberal legislative reforms, but had meagre success in doing so. During the tenure of Fifth Labour Government (1999–2008), prostitution law reform (2003), same-sex civil unions (2005) and the repeal of laws that permitted parental corporal punishment of children (2007) became law.

At present, Family First New Zealand, a 'non-partisan' social conservative lobby group, operates to try to forestall further legislative reforms such as same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. In 2005, conservative Christians tried to pre-emptively ban same-sex marriage in New Zealand through alterations to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, but the bill failed 47 votes to 73 at its first reading. At most, the only durable success such organisations can claim in New Zealand is the continuing criminality of cannabis possession and use under New Zealand's Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.


Federal law of Russian Federation no. 436-FZ of 2010-12-23 "On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development" lists information "negating family values and forming disrespect to parents and/or other family members" as information not suitable for children (“18+” rating) [6] It does not contain any separate definition of family values.


Singapore's main political party, the People's Action Party, promotes family values intensively. One MP has described the nature of family values in the city-state as "almost Victorian in nature". The Singaporean legal system bans homosexual acts[7] and prescribes harsh penalties for drug trafficking. The Singaporean justice system uses corporal punishment.[citation needed]

United States

The use of family values as a political term dates back to 1976, when it appeared in the Republican Party platform.[8] The phrase became more widespread after Vice President Dan Quayle used it in a speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Quayle had also launched a national controversy when he criticized the television program Murphy Brown for a story line that depicted the title character becoming a single mother by choice, citing it as an example of how popular culture contributes to a "poverty of values", and saying: "[i]t doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown—a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman—mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice'". Quayle's remarks initiated widespread controversy, and have had a continuing effect on U.S. politics.[citation needed] Stephanie Coontz, a professor of family history and the author of several books and essays about the history of marriage, says that this brief remark by Quayle about Murphy Brown "kicked off more than a decade of outcries against the 'collapse of the family'".[9]

The media in the United States, the Christian right often promotes the term family values to refer to their version of Familialism.[10][11][12]

In 1998, a Harris survey found that:

  • 52% of women and 42% of men thought family values means "loving, taking care of, and supporting each other"
  • 38% of women and 35% of men thought family values means "knowing right from wrong and having good values"
  • 2% of women and 1% men thought of family values in terms of the "traditional family"

The survey noted that 93% of all women thought that society should value all types of families (Harris did not publish the responses for men).[13]

Republican Party

Since 1980, the Republican Party has used the issue of family values to attract socially conservative voters.[14] While "family values" remains an amorphous concept, social conservatives usually understand the term to include some combination of the following principles[citation needed] (also referenced in the 2004 Republican Party platform):[15]

Social and religious conservatives often use the term "family values" to promote conservative ideology that supports traditional morality or Christian values.[19] Some American conservative Christians see their religion as the source of morality and consider the nuclear family an essential element in society. For example, "The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values."[20] Such groups[which?] variously oppose abortion, pornography, pre-marital sex, polygamy, homosexuality, certain aspects of feminism, cohabitation, separation of church and state, legalization of recreational drugs, and depictions of sexuality in the media.[21]

Democratic Party

Although the term "family values" remains a core issue for the Republican Party, in recent years[when?] the Democratic Party has also used the term, though differing in its definition. For example, in his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, John Kerry said "it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families".[22]

The Democratic Party definitions of family values often[quantify] include items that specifically target working families, such as support for:[citation needed]

Other liberals have used the phrase to support such values as family planning, affordable child-care, and maternity leave.[23] For example, groups such as People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays have attempted to define the concept in a way that promotes the acceptance of single-parent families, same-sex monogamous relationships and marriage. This understanding of family values does not promote conservative morality, instead focusing on encouraging and supporting alternative family structures, access to contraception and abortion, increasing the minimum wage, sex education, childcare, and parent-friendly employment laws, which provide for maternity leave and leave for medical emergencies involving children.[24]

While conservative sexual ethics focus on preventing premarital or non-procreative sex, liberal sexual ethics are typically[quantify] directed rather towards consent, regardless of whether or not the partners are married.[25][26][27]

A woman at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear holding a sign that declares her ideas of family values


Population studies have found that in 2004 and 2008, liberal-voting ("blue") states have lower rates of divorce and teenage pregnancy than conservative-voting ("red") states. June Carbone, author of Red Families vs. Blue Families, opines that the driving factor is that people in liberal states tend to wait longer before getting married.[28]

A 2002 government survey found that 95% of adult Americans had premarital sex. This number had risen slightly from the 1950s, when it was nearly 90%. The median age of first premarital sex has dropped in that time from 20.4 to 17.6.[29]

See also

Associated organizations


  1. Panasenko, N (2013). "Czech and Slovak Family Patterns and Family Values in Historical, Social and Cultural Context". Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 44 (1): 79–98. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Retrieved September 3, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "family values". Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Inc. Retrieved September 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "family values". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved September 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lewis, Steve (November 6, 2007). "Christian party's unholy alliance". Herald Sun.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Антон Одынец (January 4, 2011). Детей защитят от 'вредных' книг и фильмов (in Russian). Фонтанка.Ру. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Sections 377 and 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore)
  8. Stone, Lawrence (November 16–17, 1994). "Family Values in a Historical Perspective" (PDF). The Tanner Lectures on Human Values. University of Utah. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 10, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Coontz, Stephanie (May 1, 2005). "For Better, For Worse". Retrieved December 3, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ronald Simkins; Gail S. Risch (March 1, 2008). Religion and the Family. Fordham Univ Press. ISBN 978-1-881871-49-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Edgell, Penny; Docka, Danielle (2007). "Beyond the Nuclear Family? Familism and Gender Ideology in Diverse Religious Communities". Sociological Forum. 22 (1): 25–50. doi:10.1111/j.1573-7861.2006.00003.x. ISSN 0884-8971.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Seth Dowland, Family Values and the Rise of the Christian Right (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)
  13. "Public Opinion on the Family – Family Diversity". Retrieved January 16, 2011. Questions about family values have generally included issues concerning the current diversity of family structures.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "T. Rexs Guide to Life — Main / Republican Family Values". Archived from the original on February 24, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America" (PDF). MSNBC. Retrieved July 23, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Kendal P. Mobley. Helen Barrett Montgomery: The Global Mission of Domestic Feminism. Baylor University Press. Retrieved December 31, 2007. Late Victorian culture assumed that family was the basic model for society and that the relationships and values of the family, which were based on complementarian gender assumptions, ought to be extended into social ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Allan J. Lichtman. White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement. Grove Press. Retrieved December 31, 2007. The new right put a positive spin on anti-pluralist morality. They weren't just against sinners and feminists; they were the "pro-family" and "pro-life" champions of wholesome "family values." Still, defense of the family meant battling the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), abortion, pornography, gay rights, and gun control.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Prof. Peter Goodwin Heltzel. Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics. Yale University Press. Retrieved December 31, 2007. Founded at the same time that the evangelical pro-life movement was gathering stream, Focus was politicized from its inception. In the 1980s Dobson became more involved in politics, focusing on a cluster of issues related to family matters, including abortion, pornography, and the women's movement.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Support Our Families". Retrieved January 16, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "American Family Association". August 6, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. John Woolley, Gerhard Peters (July 29, 2004). "Speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention". Boston, Massachusetts: The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on November 1, 2004. Retrieved December 3, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Myriam Miedzian, Family Values: American and French Style, The Huffington Post, 2008-05-21
  24. "/ News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Op-ed / Walking the walk on family values". October 31, 2004. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Friedman, Jaclyn; Jessica Valenti (2008). Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. Seal Press. ISBN 1-58005-257-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Corinna, Heather. "What Is Feminist Sex Education?". Scarleteen. Retrieved October 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Corinna, Heather (May 11, 2010). "How Can Sex Ed Prevent Rape?". Scarleteen. Retrieved October 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Red Families Vs. Blue Families". May 9, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Jayson, Sharon (December 19, 2006). "Most Americans have had premarital sex, study finds". USA Today. Retrieved May 22, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Based on data from National Survey of Family Growth (2002).

Further reading

External links